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iTunes 'Genius' is half-savant, but here's what we really need...

Just a short note to point out that Apple, with its recent update to iTunes, has done something we've all been asking for for years: Amazon-style predictive marketing of music.

Just a short note to point out that Apple, with its recent update to iTunes, has done something we've all been asking for for years: Amazon-style predictive marketing of music.

And that's what it is. I'm ecstatic to see this arrive on my local jukebox software on the MacBook, but I've been lamenting for at least half a decade that if Amazon can predict what books and CDs I want to buy after knowing what I've bought, iTunes should do it too.

I'm not exaggerating about the five years. The iTunes Music Store launched in April of 2003, according to Wikipedia. It didn't take me long to imagine that some day the massive amount of data about my musical preferences contained by my iTunes Music Library could help recommend new music for me.

In the meantime Pandora and others have served this purpose, and it turns out I almost never use those services (though the streaming Pandora to iPhone service is pretty cool). What I've been aching for is something a little more mundane and critical, if you want robust data-driven analysis of my tastes. Which I want. I don't expect you to care about my tastes, but I bet you care about yours.

  • iTunes needs to be able to keep data after a reinstall. Once upon a time I had about three years of data on how many times I'd listened to what in an iTunes library. It's still on one of these hard drives around here. But then I got a new computer, or had to reformat something, or had to reconsolidate my music collection. And it was gone. I was zeroed out. That's now happened so many times I don't bother keeping the data anymore. I've built the loss into my music psychology.
  • Speaking of reconsolidating iTunes libraries... It's a monumental pain to handle a library larger than can fit on one's laptop drive. External drives are great, but you may not carry them with you, and even if you do, it's hard to have even a pocket drive connected while the computer's balanced on your leg. iTunes needs to allow users to choose which files will be mirrored on the laptop and which will just be waiting home on the external.
  • This one's for the non-Mac users. A good friend of mine and I have shared a lot of music. I assure you we obeyed copyright laws at all times. But he has not frequently been a Mac user, and his various Windows and UNIX/Linux-based software do not always play well with an iTunes file structure. iTunes should facilitate my and his music lives by allowing more robust file naming and cataloging options in terms of where and how files are stored.

That's all. We'll be back to China in the morning. For now, it's back to whatever "genius" decided that an Antibalas song is similar to a dance by Kitaro.