Search This Blog


Friday, April 19, 2013

Everybody likes recommending. Nobody likes being recommended to.

Twitter has launched #music, a music recommendation service that recommends tracks based on who you follow.

The paradox at the heart of all music recommendation engines is that as soon as a recommendation process is blunt enough to be performed by a machine it's no longer sharp enough to be much use to a human being. Similarly, as soon as a process is mass enough to make money for a company it's too mass to be of much benefit to an individual. As soon is it's insistent and mechanical enough for somebody to claim it as a success it's so insistent and mechanical that you want to turn it off.

In theory everybody likes the idea of recommendations. In practice there's no pain in the arse quite like the person who's always telling you what you should be listening to or reading or watching. Anyone who's really full of recommendations probably has poor judgement. I know scores of people who listen to music for a living and there are only three of them who recommend things that I like. Other people may well recommend stuff I'd like but I simply don't warm to their recommendations.

Music is a thing you pull towards you when you're in the mood. As soon as it's pushed towards you it loses all its charm.