Friday, March 02, 2007

iLike - The Future of Music Communities?

iLike is a relatively young music community based software service, having only just reached the rip old age of four months, but I predict that this is going to become a very popular service, and the principles on which it is based will be adopted by many other music services.

It is wonderfully designed service with a very fresh, clean and modern interface. The service itself is very simple in concept - to help you organise and share your music, allow you to interact with people who share similar music tastes and recommend new music. While many other sites and services are setting out to do similar if not exactly the same things, iLike combines so many of the best concepts and in such a well designed package that it stands out from the rest.

iLike sets out to introduce you to music that you will like but have not yet listened to and combines several simple methods.

First you must create a profile which can be shared among the rest of the iLike community. You start by manually describing the genres and actual musician that you like. This creates a crude profile of your music tastes. But by downloading a small software gadget that analyses what you play in iTunes or Windows Media Player the service it able to get a realtime view of your music preferences, initially taking a snap shot of your music library and then starts an ongoing analysis of your music listening habits in the most logical way, by making a note of every time you listen to music on your computer or iPod. Continuing to build up and ever more perfect picture of your listening habits.

Users of iTunes software also have the benefit of having a user interface directly in the iTunes browser, that gives you access to your profile and community features of iLike. It shows you similar songs to the ones that you are currenly playing - so if you like Muse but want something similar, simply start playing one of your Muse tracks and it come immediatly back with recommendations similar to Muse. The recommendations all link to 30 second previews accessed via the iTunes store. You can also rate the songs in your library so iLike can determine which ones you like over others. Being embeded in iTunes and so always there when you are playing your music, with no need to remember to login to a website is a strong feature. We all have far too many sites to surf, to remember to come back to so many sites we have registered with. Once registered you are likely to continue to use the service as it is also very unintrusively implemented. The concept of dedicated software to access web content is going to be a strong trend in future.

Interesting are the complex algorthms that they use to determine what you would like to listen to. The most successful services in the future will be those that have alorythmns that are able to search massive quantities of data and deliver you only a few, but highly relevant results. While is can be easy to relate certain bands with others, the software that calculates your recommended suggestions is far more complecated.

iLike also harnesses the community of users and networks you to people that share similar tastes in music. By being able to easily browse other peoples libraries that share similar bands, it bives you a less mathematical and more human way to discover new music. You can build up lists of friends and see what they are listening to, what is most popular and recommend tracks to them.

This is the future of tracking and understanding trends and analysing music consumption. Bands can find out exactly who is listening to their music and which songs are played the most. This must be really interesting to base understanding on the actual listening rather than on record sales.

iLike seems very heavily geared at providing an excellent service, with the aim of generating revenue from providing traffic and sales to the iTunes store. The strong links between iLike is also apparent in it's design, as it seems to have been designed specifically to fit in with the iTunes software. I ask how long will it be before iTunes buys iLike or releases their own version of this community software.

A really great aspect of iLike is that it not only recommends establish artists, but is a forum discovering new music talent. Capitalising on the content of their sister site Garage Band, it acts as a filter on the many thousands of unsigned artists that have submitted their music to Garage Band. So through iLike you are also recommended new unsigned bands who's music is easily downloaded for free with one click straight to your iTunes library.

The service requires so little effort, yet delivers good value. you do not need to make friends, build pages, maintain blog etc, but you can do all of these things with it if you wish.

Download iLike and join the community HERE.