Okay, I know I've been attaching quite a few links of late but hey, they're cool. My latest is a site I just found out about called Pandora.com. It's a web radio station that claims to have developed a "music genome project". In other words they've thought of every conceivable way to categorize, describe, and cross reference the elements of as many genres as they could come up with. When you, the user, create a "radio station", you enter the names of some artists/songs that you like. Pandora reads it's musical genetic code, cross references it's data base, and starts feeding you what you asked for and anything it thinks came from the same gene pool. The music appears to be culled from the storehouses of Amazon.com and Itunes, as it gives you the option to purchase from those sources. The songs are presented in their entirety and you can give them a thumbs up or down to keep them in rotation or give them the axe. The program only allows you to skip a certain number of songs per hour. Presumably, this is due to a contractual obligation with the music resources guaranteeing that a certain number of selections will be played in full.
At any rate, it works well and it's great to hear new music in a style you like without trying to guess from 30 second snippets on Amazon/Itunes. I created a radio station called "Progday Afternoon" and entered a list of prog artists I like. The program started feeding me prog I've never heard of and it did a pretty good job of matching my taste. The more I added and the more I nixed, the closer the selection got to actually capturing my preference. Aint modern technology wunnerful? Soon, in the words of the inimitable poet Richard Brautigan, we will be "all watched over by machines of loving grace".