Virtual Mixtapes

A mixtape for the iPod generation- and beyond! A recent post from Wendell over on the official MusicIP blog, Hear Here, introduced me to a technology to swap virtual mixes (playlists) online using MusicIP and the FIQL website. FIQL is a pretty interesting idea by itself, but when combined with MusicIP, it becomes quite powerful. As Wendell explains, MusicIP can import any FIQL playlist by finding matches from your own music library. If it doesn't find exact matches, it looks for something similar in musical style. These replacements are usually quite smart. For example, I was playing around with some 80s new wave playlists, and nearly all of the replacement songs were also 80s new wave (Mano Negra somehow snuck in). Impressive. You can see from my comments on the original post that there are still some problems with the text pattern and music fingerpring recognition, because the import misses about 10-20% of songs that should match tracks in my collection. Some of these seem to be discrepancies between exact spellings of song titles or artist names, but some others I can't explain. Even if the track names don't produce a match, Wendell claims that the acoustic fingerprint should match if the songs are the same, but this doesn't seem to be happening for me. Let's take a smallish (25) but varied playlist as an example:

01   Huddle Formation   The Go! Team
02   Rocks Off   The Rolling Stones
03   Tangled Up inBlue   Bob Dylan
04   That's Entertainment   The Jam
05   I Feel It   Urban Myth Club
06   Kinky Afro   Happy Mondays
07   Interzone   Joy Division
08   Astro   White Stripes
09   Helicopter   Bloc Party
10   Hounds Of Love   Futureheads
11   Unfinished Synphony   Massive Attack
12   Pass It On   The Coral
13   Hard To Explain   The Strokes
14   See You Soon   Coldplay
15   Good Old Days   Libertines
16   Should I Stay Or Should I Go   The Clash
17   Big Exit   Pj Harvey
18   Do You Remember The First Time?   Pulp
19   Note To Self: Dont Die   Ryan Adams
20   Big Mouth Strikes Again   The Smiths
21   Slide Away   Oasis
22   Country Feedback   R.E.M.
23   Spectacular   Graham Coxon
24   All Along The Watch Tower   Jimi Hendrix
25   History   Verve

MusicIP recognized that I had 12 of the 25 tracks, and could replace a further 11 (meaning it couldn't match 2). Replacing caught a further 2 in my library (The Go! Team, Jimi Hendrix), but missed Massive Attack (typo: Unfinished Sympathy, not Synphony) and Pulp (punctuation seems to confuse the text filter). While the replacements were again "interesting", I would have preferred that the missing tracks from the White Stripes, Coral, and Coldplay would have been replaced by other tracks that I have from the same artist (maybe this can be added as a preference?). Overall, not bad, but an improved text filter should be able to catch the typos, punctuation, and alternate spellings. Same goes for the the acoustic pattern recognition.

It's still a really cool system. If you want to try it yourself, make sure you have the latest version of MusicIP (1.7.1) and a beefy music library. While I might use FIQL to share some interesting playlists that I create, I don't see it replacing mix CDs for friends. The whole point of making mixes for me is to introduce someone to new music, not music that's already in their collection.

Posted on November 11, 2006 and filed under Software, Tunes.