Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

A Familiar Taste

The Apple PR force is out in full swing for the launch of Apple Music, but I’ve found most of the initial impressions lacking. Kory Grow’s interview with Trent Reznor for Rolling Stone, on the other hand, is far more interesting:

That aspect of treating music like art is important. And we’ve tried to do that everywhere that you come across music in Apple Music. When you listen to a radio station here, every song has been chosen by somebody. When your recommendations pop up “For You,” that wasn’t based on some tag that came into the system; it was based on editors sitting and saying, “We like this subgenre of hip-hop which branches off into these artists which branch off into these artists,” and paying attention to the actual behavior in the app. And we believe that the result ends up being something that feels better. It makes music feel more personal and it raises it up a notch into something what it deserves, rather than a big-box-retailer feel, like, “Here’s the stuff, pick what you want.” And some people will say that none of that matters, but it does to us and we are proud of the love and care that we are treating music with.

Genius — like most recommendation engines — is entirely based on a programmatic approach to finding similar music, and the effects of that have been plain to see. Artists are suggested based on the number of common downloads, similar band members, and similar genres. That’s really limiting, and a human curator can patch that gap. This is based on the Beats Music model, but it’s vastly more integrated in its Apple Music guise to create a kind of blended library between your local files and streaming songs. I’m looking forward to trying this out as soon as I can.