The idea Musical Taste was always to harvest information about really excellent songs.
My feeling is that while people might often say “The Beach Boys are really amazing”, this doesn't really help someone faced with the mountain of material they recorded. It’s common sense that not all of this is likely to appeal to any one person. Therefore it's much more helpful to say to that person “Well, for a start, ’Til I Die is INCREDIBLE!.
Of course, not everyone consumes music on a track-by-track basis, and this site will probably be less interesting for those who think only in terms of “good albums”. But for the rest of us (and in the days of online music, getting hold of original songs away from their original context is becoming more and more common), it’s quite helpful to have someone explicitly explain why particular songs are so special or interesting to them.
So the site is a user-driven community with a focus on individual track recommendations. There are no restrictions on what can be recommended and there’s deliberately no spot to enter a genre. Why? Because I think genres are stupid and just get in the way of people listening to music. Besides, the site is interlinked in such a way that genres are superflous (see below). One thing the site does have is keywords. When recommending a track, users can specify some words or phrases to describe the mood of the track. Clicking on that word in the recommendation launches a search for any mention of the same word. Like this.
The site provides a number of different ways of navigating through recommendations. Visitors can browse the recommendations by year, artist, or country of origin. They can also search the recommendations, or simply browse those made by a particular user.
The site has expanded slowly since its launch in March 2001, and was relaunched with a new design in March 2002. There have been a few refinements since then, although not as many as there should have been. Here is a list of features, starting with those added most recently:
- users can now upload their own mp3 clips. These are limited to 500 k in size.
- the 'playlist' feature has been expanded, so that playlists can now be generated not just for a year or performer, but for any keyword or search term (if you're feeling too lively, try listening to the depressing playlist.
- Hmm, that's it. I have some more things in store though. Here are some old 'features':
- well over half the songs recommended on the site now have short sound samples available in mp3 format (these short, low bitrate clips are presented for information purposes only, as fair use)
- when browsing user profiles, or by year, artist or country, users can click the 'PLAYLIST' button to download an M3U file. This will stream all of the sound samples from that year, country, or performer, or recommended by that user
- each user now has a profile. By default, this contains statistics about the songs the user has recommended and commented on, where they're from, and when they joined. Users can also go to EDIT to add to their profile (for example, to talk about their musical taste and share favorite links)
- there is also an option to 'contact a user'. Here you can send an email to another user via a web form (the email is sent through the site, so the other user's email address is not revealed). If you would like to opt out of this, please indicate this in your profile
- there is an annotated page of links related to music research or to artists recommended on the site
- individual recommendations contain the following links:
- Clicking on the song title will filter all recommendations for songs with that title
- Clicking on the performer name will filter all recommendations for songs performed by that artist
- Clicking on the year will filter all recommendations for songs recorded in that year
- Clicking on the name of the user who recommended the song will filter all recommendations made by that user
- 'DETAILS' (a link to a recomendation-specific page where you can read all the details available about a particular track, such as its country of origin, other versions, and catalog numbers)
- 'LISTEN' (a link to download an mp3 sound sample of the track if available)
- 'COMMENT' (a comment form, to post a public comment about a recommendation; note that this is no longer a popup box)
- 'EBAY' (an automated search for the album or CD on the ebay auction site)
- 'CD' (an automated search for the CD (if applicable) on Mysimon, price comparison site)
- 'GEMM' (an automated search for the record or CD on GEMM, a network of used and new record dealers)
- there are currently 4449 registered members, who have recommended a total of 5858 tracks
- users can edit the text of their recommendations at any time
This site has been tested on various platforms (PC/MAC/IE/NETSCAPE). However, I'm sure I didn't catch everything, so please contact me if you have any problems.
Any ideas/feedback are welcome. Write to me via a form here, or
Jonny (user: delicado)