Do You Trust Algorithms Used by Streaming Music Services? Should You?

Virtually every music service promises that it will learn from your tastes and serve you up more of what you will probably like. But should we be trusting these algorithms and/or AI behind these recommendations? This appeared in Nation of Billions:

There’s so much talk these days about Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence and scientific innovations have not only become a part of our everyday lives but our everyday language. But if you walk down the street and ask a random person ‘What Is An Algorithm?’ it’s unlikely they’ll be able to give you a straight answer. So when we got the opportunity to partner up with The British Science Association to explore the role of algorithms in music, we couldn’t wait to dig into this one.

Algorithms are found everywhere nowadays, in fact they’ve existed for thousands of years, which to be honest wasn’t something we even thought was true, until Alex McLean co-founder of Algorave explained how, “Thousands of years we’ve made algorithms, you don’t need a computer to make an algorithm. The whole basis of a woven material, involves algorithms of interacting systems, it’s all about patterns really. I guess at this point, things are changing because algorithms are coming into our social lives in ways they haven’t before. But the basis of an algorithm is just mathematics and we’ve always been doing mathematics.”

But beyond maths, algorithms are being used more and more in music curation and creation, from generating playlists of our most listened to tracks to even creating background music for games and apps – how much do we really know about their impact on the music industry and musicians?

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Do You Trust Algorithms Used by Streaming Music Services? Should You?

  • March 19, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    i do, especially spotify’s and matt ogle’s work (ex lastFM guy, behind discover weekly) but for recommendations.

    for “radio” (and actual radio) nothing beats a proper human programmer that knows their shit.



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