One of the reasons that i loved Napster was that you could see how people labeled their music, particularly the genre. In music, i use genre like i use tagging in Gmail, del.icio.us and Flickr, only i’m a bit more obsessive about keeping them organized. My playlists are all automatically created based on my idiosyncratic genre labels. The labels are not for you, but for me and i don’t care if PsyChill doesn’t really exist – it’s the label that ties together things like bluetech and Shpongle.
Due to 1) my new iPod, 2) the barfing of my Mac, 3) the scanning of CDs and 4) my obsession with last.FM, i am diving deeply into my music collection to re-genrify things. It is this attribute of last.FM that is given me the greatest curiosity. Last.FM is full of people with – shall we say – “interesting” tastes. I’m sorry but there is no playlist in the world that should have Gwar and Nina Simone together. Wrong wrong wrong. And why is Elliott Smith on the top artists page of the genre Breaks? No no no.
Of course, i’m part of fucking this up. I love Elliott Smith and i love breaks. Since i am in the breaks group, my listening to Elliott Smith is affecting that genre page. This is a problem. I know better when i manually genrify my music. Elliott Smith is is the MaleNeuvoFolk genre (which is effectively equivalent to Sadcore except can also be listened to when not depressed). I would never recommend Elliott Smith to a breaks aficionado.
I’m worried that this diverse listening pattern is messing up all the data. After three days of listening to non-stop chillout, goa and breaks, i should not be getting recommendations for Rancid and Ludacris. The problem is that there’s a big gap between Beth Orton and Son Kite and i fear that trying to resolve those two listening patterns will result in abysmal results. The system should know that i’m listening with two different faceted patterns – the chill danah and the dancey danah.
When i ask a friend for music advice, i don’t simply say “give me anything you listen to.” I know better. But i would ask “could you make me a dub mix?” or “what would complement Dr Toast?” Or think about the Back to Mine series (collections based on what musicians chill out to). I want my last.FM to understand that there are moods. All of my playlists get this. All of my genrification gets this. Now it’s time for last.FM. I should be able to play everything that userx thinks makes for “coding music” or for “chill out” or for “getting ready to go out.” I want to be able to cluster my music. I want to be able to inform Audioscrobbler to only tell the genre group “PsyTrance” about things that i’ve marked Full-On, Melodic, Scando or PsyChill. Or tell them about a playlist or two. Tag the genres so that i don’t blush when i see my love of Johnny Cash appear as appropriate for other Trip-Hop fiends.