iTunes 8.0- Genius SideBar is very nice


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.



Its nice,but here’s the rub.
I like japanese and french music…but because I live in Australia, the internet store only covers this country and therefore it wont find what it should really be looking for. Regionality on an internet download site is so last century… I’m stuck with importing the real thing for a while longer.


Have you noticed that renting and subscription is the choice of companies everywhere? That is because it is great for them and horrible for you! Sign up for slavery – never own anything / work for nothing.

At the end of the day, you should own something for your labor and intelligence. Pandora is great for discovering new music – I listen every day at work. When you find some song you love, go purchase it and own it forever (if you back it up!).


J: Because I am not interested in millions of songs but instead less than about 1,500. (actually there is only like 900 on my iPhone right now) I like repetitive and I like to own/burn/backup the music. Renting not so much. I’m sure it fits some folks needs, just not mine.


I’m more impressed by Pandora. I mean how hard is it really for iTunes to serve up music that you like from your own library? Besides, I suspected iTunes did this all along. I was never convinced that shuffle play was totally random. I think iTunes has some secret algorithm to program playlists based on some artificial mood.


Why are you afraid of renting millions of songs for less than the price of a CD per month?


.99 a song works perfectly for my tastes and so far the Genius playlist feature is pretty accurate to my fairly diverse collection of Christian contemporary, gospel,classical,folk and Christmas music. Very impressed.

The day I decide to rent music from Rhapsody, Apple or anyone else is the day I paint myself purple, wear a bowl of fruit on my head and dance the samba.

Michael Anderson

I have to say I’m with TUAW on this one – in fact I did a note on my own blog about it (

Of course, my picks were obscure avant-garde jazz, but to have it select Pink, Rihanna and Jason Mraz … heck, just dumping a bunch of generic jazz would have been helpful.

What I don’t mention is that selecting some other stuff in my list – Pete Townsend, Joni Mitchell, – came up *only* with other songs by those artists. Miles Davis was the first one that yielded anything useful … except that I had selected ‘Gondwana’ from his way out there 1975 piece Pangaea … and it recommended stuff like ‘Stella by Starlight’ by Miles and Trane …

Apparently the Genius is part of the ‘Dumbest Generation’ of digital illiterati :D

Dave Zatz

I’m not terribly impressed. It’s an upgrade of smart playlists (which should be an improvement) but the store recommendations is just a re-implementation of the now deceased “MiniStore” – instead of being on the bottom of iTunes, now it’s on the right. yawn.

Kevin C. Tofel

Genius is doing terrible with my music. Example: most of my library is Country music and comes from imported CDs; the genre is correctly identified by iTunes. Only one or two albums were downloaded through Amazon. No matter what country song I use to seed the Genius with, it returns the same playlist consisting of the seed song and all 17 tracks of the latest country album I imported. Every. Single. Time. Hmmmm….. basically, it gives me a playlist of the newest Sugarland album… I already have a playlist for that. ;)

Raphael Salgado

I’m actually surprised how well Genius is doing with my growing music library. On the first day out with a Genius playlist, I haven’t skipped one song on my trek to work today. Pretty slick work, Apple.

Now, if you can just make AT&T not force a data plan or have a PAYG data feature, you’d make many more potential iPhone 3G users happy. Not everyone uses or needs a $30 data plan, but everyone I know loves the iPhone.

James Kendrick

I read that article too and they were referring to the music suggested for purchase in the iTunes Store. I have experimented a lot with it using my music library and it even gives me good playlists on stuff like classical music, something they had problems with. I do note that when it generates me a classical Genius playlist from my library that the store list shows nothing suggested. Note that I actually have a big pool of library music for it to use with over 2,500 songs. :)

Kevin C. Tofel

Ironic that you wrote this up just as I was reading “My iTunes Genius is a Moron” over at TUAW. ;)

I think that people’s experiences are going to vary wildly until the listening preference database at Apple gets built up. I actually don’t buy any music from Apple as I prefer the less expensive DRM-free files from Amazon. Curious if and how that plays into things here.

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