Music, My Stories, Stupidity

Algorithms

Spotify has been in the news a lot lately and when it hits the news its always for the wrong reasons.

I can tell ya that no one in Australia gives a crap about Joe Rogan and the Neil Young/Joni Mitchell drama. The majority of the country here doesn’t even know or care who Rogan is. And for Young pulling his catalogue of songs from the service, he’s cut his income by 60%. Maybe it’s a North American issue as Young’s reach in Australia is minimal unless he had a crossover song which became mainstream like “Rockin In The Free World” and “Hey Hey My My”.

Young can take this stance as well. You see, he hasn’t sold his rights to investment firms and hedge funds, so he’s entitled to do what he wants with his music, whereas the artists who sold their rights and took the money are silent. Because they have to be. There are too many players on their rights.

And the news cycle is fast. What was trending last week, disappears after 24 hours and I’m probably the only one writing about this a week later.

But this post is not about Neil Young or Rogan. It’s about Spotify.

It’s about the algorithms from digital services.

We’ve come a long way since Apple release the iPod in October 2001.

While the algorithms might have been cool at the start, all they do now is recommend more of the same.

It looks like the coders behind em, have gone to various lists and Wikipedia pages across the internet and used those lists to create their algorithms.

For example, Google, “Great Guitar Solos” and multiple lists come up. The Spotify coder would then take that list and use the artists in the lists for a playlist. In other words, its basic dumb coding.

When I want to hear Guitar Solos like “Comfortably Numb” from Pink Floyd and Dave Gilmour, I want an algorithm that uses the emotion of that solo to find me other emotive solos like it from artists I don’t know and know.

Like “Try Me” from UFO and the great Michael Schenker. Or “Angel Of Mercy” from Black Label Society and Zakk Wylde as the guitarist. And it would be cool if its evolving, bringing in something different, like the “Live at Budokan” version of “Hollow Tears” from Dream Theater and John Petrucci. And the next time I go to it, the list is different, because it’s trying to recommend something cool and new and different.

But the algorithms just look at my past listening habits and mirror those habits back at me. And I’m not finding anything cool from em.

I’ve gone back to the old school way of getting recommendations from friends and other bloggers, reading reviews and making my own decisions on whether to check something out or from artists themselves who mention an act or band that’s blown em away.

And artificial intelligence can automate a lot of this, but it can’t automate the cool and social aspect of being blown away by something sounding so good, because each listeners experience and connection to the music is different. While music is a personal experience, its social in nature. We want to share our experiences, talk about it, watch it live with others, dance to it and put our views out there.

Lift your game Spotify.

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12 thoughts on “Algorithms

  1. Ken Taylor says:

    Sorry but putting my two bob in, lol. Huge Rogan fan but don’t drink the cool aid people. What concerns me the most is what one person can do by disagreeing with another person, what if Young wakes up tomorrow and finds God and then decides to pull all his content because Iron Maiden has a few songs discussing the Devil, what if Young gives up smoking dope and threatens to pull content again because of Cyprus Hill, or a hundred other acts. Crazy times bring out the worst in people from hording toilet paper, getting over tested and spreading misinformation in a world that’s overflowing with misinformation. Rant over

    • Well said Ken.

      Too many people are reactive.

      From my experience I haven’t heard not one joke or podcast or even one word from Rogan. And this was before I even heard of his name mentioned last week. Maybe I’ve lived in a cave. Lol.

      And his views don’t bother me, like many other people out there who put their views out which I disagree with. They just don’t bother me.

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I’m all for that because I hate censorship.

      • Ken Taylor says:

        I love to watch his podcast while cooking, the ones with other comedians are soooo funny, the two with Maynard are very cool. On a completely different note, have you heard of an Australian band called Koritni. I know you like Jimmy Barnes so you should give these guys a run.

  2. Spotify??? What is Spotify??? LOL!! I don’t listen to spotify or Rogan so I have no skin in that game. But you are right about the algorithms. When they first came out I discovered so many new bands, but now, it doesn’t. My Radio Station on Apple Music is basically playing back my catalog with a few tracks I’d never heard, not like before where it was a lot of stuff I’ve never heard. Too bad.

  3. I almost wrote about the whole Young/Rogan mess but found myself indifferent to most of the core issues so I left it alone. The Spotify algorithm is totally useless as far as I’m concerned. Mine behaves just like yours – it goes and finds the same stuff I was already playing. If I leave the app to find its own songs to play it will literally play something I just had on awhile ago. They gutted their new release feature and it’s now also totally useless. Searching for things or getting recommendations is the only real way to use the app.

  4. As a programmer, I can tell you this: Algorithms aren’t smart. they are, at the most basic level, just to way of solving a problem, while doing it as fast as they can, without taking too much memory.

    That’s it. There is no emotions, no understanding, no feelings. AI isn’t any different either. It just looks in the pattern, and works from there. That is why you can recognize spam bots so easily, because they go overboard with the keywords.

    Also, I think that the problem is further compounded by the fact that you can’t actually quantify something like enjoyment. You listen to a music, you like it. But how much do you like it? What about other people? Do they like it or hate it, just as much as you do?

    Anyway, my own thoughts here. Thanks for reading them.

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