iTunes Genius doesn’t work [for me]

Lots of fanfare for iTunes’ Genius thingie. Unfortunately, it does not satisfy me (what does, right?). I just don’t think it works for me. It is actually consistent, it almost gives me the same songs for two different (but similar) songs of the same artist. So I know that their algorithm works for the way it was designed for. My problem is that the algorithm itself doesn’t do what I need.

I like listening to songs like “Ranting of Eva”‘s “Bright Side“. Now, the interesting thing is that the “Red Letter Agent” band actually does have the exact same style of music. If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was the same person who wrote songs for the two bands (note: the members of the two bands actually are good friends and they usually gig together). “The Coral Sea” also have songs (e.g. “In This Moment’s Time”) that the guitar sounds exactly the same. So if in my ears these bands are actually sounding the same, why isn’t Genius putting these together in my local Genius results?

I am sure that part of the algorithm makes sense, it’s just that it’s not as intelligent or as broad as I need it to be. I am looking for a very specific sound, and Genius doesn’t give it to me. At least not when it comes to guitar sound and arrangement identification patterns.

I also asked Brian, guitarist of the “Drist“, what he thinks about these songs and he agreed that all these songs have a similar style with a “slightly dirty” guitar sound (as he put it).

So I know I am not crazy.

Update: IM chat with my husband:

JBQ: teaches you right for listening to alternative rock music.
JBQ: If you listened to pop music, it’d work much better (since all pop music sounds the same): it’d just return a random pop song.
eugenia: 😀
JBQ: Seriously, all the rants I’ve heard about the genius playlist is that it doesn’t work as soon as you go in the alternative/indie genre (which is *exactly* where you want it to work).
eugenia: ic
JBQ: It doesn’t matter that it can solve the easy cases, I want it to solve the hard ones.
eugenia:: yup
JBQ: I want it to give me whatever band you made me listen to* the other day when I say “I want something that sounds like Evanescence”.

* That was The Luminous Sky‘s new album. While these guys play electronic rock, the singing patterns and style of the lead vocalist are the same as with the singer of Evanescence. Listen to their songs “Devoted” and “Falling for you”.

11 Comments »

Ludovic wrote on October 3rd, 2008 at 10:57 PM PST:

So genius does not work, for you but it’s not the only recomandation engine for music. Does last.fm work for you ?


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on October 3rd, 2008 at 11:04 PM PST:

I do not really use it. Especially now with the Comcast bandwidth restrictions I can’t use it. From what I remember, I think it worked better, yes.


memsom wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 3:33 AM PST:

I noticed a few things
about genius:

1: it takes a few days to work. it seems t need to gear itself up. initially it comes up short, but after a few days it starts to get better. i only listen to alt rock/indie (uk definition) and pretty obscure stuff too.

2: it does not work at all if the album r song re not available in itunes store (eg kerbdog ‘on the turn’ gets good hits, but their debut self titled is not in the store abd it can’t find any hits at all)

3 : Ripped music works much less successfully.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 1:06 PM PST:

It doesn’t work for me. I have it running and updated it many times since it came out. It offers me songs that have nothing to do with the style I want.


memsom wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 1:12 PM PST:

“Songs that go great together” is not the same as “songs in the same style” I guess.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 1:31 PM PST:

I am pretty sure that this is what it was meant to be. Don’t play with words just to piss me off. It’s just their algorithm is not good enough.


memson wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 4:42 PM PST:

Steve Jobs stood on stage and described Genius as a method for creating playlists of songs that “go great together”. Those were his exact words. Make of that whatever you want.

Not trying to annoy/piss you off, just saying that it does exactly *that* for me. It does suggest some other stuff that makes sense, but only if it recognises the track properly, else it comes up with utter crap. Obviously, you want it do do a complete exact analysis of the audio, which isn’t going to happen. It’s also dictated to by the cloud, so I’m guessing then bands you are having problems with are quite niche. They’re certainly not known all that well over here, if at all.

Bottom line, you’re expecting too much – musical taste is very personal, and comparison of styles and “alike” sound is extremely down to individual interpretations. Small bands with no real fanbase outside of the niche will not get good predictions due to lack of exposure to the cloud.


Pete wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 6:35 PM PST:

Its driving me a little crazy that I cannot contribute to this conversation, given that I know exactly how the algorithm works.


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 10:03 PM PST:

Oops. Didn’t know it was your code Pete. Hopefully you will still talk to me next time we see each other. 😀

Seriously, having used Genius, I know it does what it’s supposed to do. I am not complaining about this. I just need more than that. 🙂


Pete wrote on October 4th, 2008 at 11:16 PM PST:

No worries! I understand what you are saying.

besides – my code is only on the iPod side 🙂


ibanzor wrote on October 10th, 2008 at 8:37 AM PST:

I think genius is rubbish, if you select a hip hop song it puts on cheesy rock, although it kind of works with rock and metal, but its not really great. I’v got a library of 50 gb and i know most of the music that goes together, so most of the time genius is rubbish…

Also i bought some a few songs from itunes store the other day and genius can recognise them, how stupid is that. Even when genius is updated.


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