I updated iTunes this morning to the brand spanking new version 8.0 which adds a number of features, most notably the Genius SideBar. While the Genius SideBar feature is no doubt intended to get Apple some additional music sales I am finding it very nice for augmenting my listening pleasure. I have been a long-time fan of Pandora because there is nothing cooler than listening to a music playlist consisting of songs and artists that are similar to music I really like. Pandora has pioneered the ability to be told what artist I like and then giving me a music session that contains music that is so similar to my specification that I like everything I hear. It’s a great way to find new music that I really like.
That is precisely what the Genius SideBar does in iTunes 8. When you first turn it on it analyzes your music library, in my case over 2,000 songs, and then uploads that list to the iTunes store. Some folks might not like that idea but since most of my music was bought from Apple it didn’t matter to me. Once iTunes has analyzed the music library I can highlight any song by any artist in my library and then click the Genius button at the bottom of the window. This instantly creates a playlist of my music that is eerily similar in style to the seed song I selected. I’ve been listening this way all morning and am finding it as good as Pandora, although it is limited to my existing music collection. Of course the Genius SideBar also provides a list of music I don’t own that is similar too so I suspect my music purchases will go up dramatically.