This week, MTV quietly launched a new feature within Urge, dubbed My Auto-Mix. I had a chance to sit down with MTV reps last week to preview the tool, and I was pretty impressed with what I saw. Yesterday, I finally had a chance to start playing with My Auto-Mix, and now I'm hooked. This handy music discovery tool provides you with custom playlists based on several factors that you can adjust. My personal favorite is the Mood Selector, which can be seen in the screenshot below. The experience is entirely visual, with different emoticons representing all 179 moods from which you can choose. Some of my personal favorites include hostile, freewheeling, and rollicking. The actual design of the emoticons is still a work in progress, but even now, some of them are pretty amusing.
There's also an Artist Selector, which lets you chose up to 5 artists (Urge's catalog comprises more than 110,000), then provides a playlist full of those and like artists. And you have the Style Selector, where you can zoom in to each of Urge's 18 genres to choose from the 330 subgenres. The interface itself is Flash-based, so it's graphical, responsive, and fun to use. Within any of the Selectors, you also get three customized slider controls for fine-tuning the outcomes. You can adjust the popularity, freshness, and familiarity, depending on what you're looking for at the moment. Playlist length is also user-determined; choose 5, 10, 20, 30, or 40 track lists.
Once you get a list that you like, you can type a name into the text bar at the top and save it to your playlists, and of course you can transfer it to a compatible MP3 player. The lists are also dynamic--a Refresh button near the top of the screen lets you easily swap out content. The best part of all this, though, is that during the development of My Auto-Mix, MTV really pushed Microsoft to improve the performance of Windows Media Player 11...and Microsoft actually responded (upgrade here). The performance of WMP11 and Urge within it are vastly improved. During testing, many of the Auto-Mixes loaded instantly, while others took just a couple of seconds.