Check out this amazing tool: Pandora. It is the manifestation of the Music Geneome Project, an ambitious undertaking started five years ago by musicians and “music-loving technologists.” The goal of MGP is to “capture the essence” of music by analyzing individual songs element (or “gene”) by element. They created a genome of music by defining hundreds of "genes;" genes for “melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony.” Fascinating!
So, what does it do? You give Pandora the name of a band or song that you like, and they build a “station” around songs that have genes in common with it. They even explain why each song is included in the playlist, opening in a little window listing the elements that are similar.
My first “station” was Radiohead Radio, which introduced me to three bands I’d never heard of - Mellow, Statistcs, and Bright Eyes - all of whom (which?) I liked. Pandora makes it easy to get more of the music you like, as they have linked each title with Amazon or iTunes for easy purchase. Dangerous! My only concern is that all the music may be too similar. When I started a Ben Folds station, the first six songs were medium-tempo, piano-based, and had a male vocalist. We’ll see how much variety there is in the long run; it would be nice to find not only artists but styles that are similar to your favorites.
Enjoy! Up next: a competition update, I promise.
Update, 10/13: Having much better luck with Beck Radio. Ah, Beck...