iTunes Genius a Dunce? Check out "ilikebsides"

  • February 4th, 2009

When Apple announced the iTunes Genius Playlists, I was looking forward to "a brilliant way to create perfect playlists". I soon realized that the usefulness and value of the iTunes Genius was limited by two important factors: a) the size of your existing iTunes Library, and b) the dollar amount you were willing to spend on new recommended music. Initially, I experimented with what tracks I did have in my library, passing them through the Genius and enjoying the generated playlists on my iPod in the car. After a few weeks, those "brilliant" playlists were beginning to sound a little stale. I needed new tunes. Pronto.

New iTunes recommendation web service ‘i like b-sides’


Ben, otherwise known as "smash" (for various reasons), recently kicked – yet another – personal project out the door. The iTunes music recommendation service ilikebsides uses your local iTunes library XML file and generates mix-tapes of up to 16 songs. So how does it work?

[…] by contrasting the songs you’ve rated and/or played-back against your remaining library, then checking sales-data for each artist and determining ratios of "quality-vs.-quantity" on both-sides… mathematically, using a proprietary formula. But past this point, it’s not so simple…. We also factor songs that you do already own, but don’t listen-to. (…for those who love collecting complete albums or discographies!) In addition, we subtract most of the more popular songs, and then move the songs that you already own elsewhere… for later comparison to retain the integrity of your library.

Although the process of manually uploading a zipped archive of your libraries XML file may seem a little archaic, the results are quite interesting and for the most part, refreshing. Check out a demo mix-tape for an idea of the type of results you can expect to see.

The mix-tapes utilize Amazon web services to stream audio / video. Hear something worth purchasing, each track includes a link to the purchase page for download via Amazon MP3 Downloads.

A worthy iTunes Store alternative

Not to knock the iTunes Music Store, but Amazon MP3 Downloads is worth checking out for DRM-free downloads. Take for example the latest from Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak. Download the album from iTMS for $10 or grab it from Amazon MP3 Downloads for $9. Ok, maybe not the best example of big savings, but every dollar counts right?

The real winner in my eyes for choosing Amazon over iTMS is the Amazon MP3 Twitter account which announces special pricing and deals.

Updates I would like to see

  • Saved library file uploads and registered user accounts for future visits
  • Embeddable mix-tapes to share playlists on a personal site
  • Easier method for updating your music library XML file when new songs are added (iTunes plugin?)

Did you check out ilikebsides? If so, what did you think? Are you purchasing songs from the iTunes Music Store, or have you moved to Amazon MP3?