What are the best tools for finding new music and movies?
With streaming services, millions of songs and movies are just a click away, but wading through that dense library for
something that pleases you can be a little bit like finding the needle in the haystack.
Where do you start?
There are a growing number of tools to help you find new music and movies based on what you already like.
Gnoosic… If you're looking for a bare-bones recommendation tool, it doesn't get much simpler
than Gnoosic. Just type in three of your favorite artists and Gnoosic will start recommending similar musicians. Gnoosic
"contains thousands of bands and quite some knowledge about who likes what".
After each recommendation, tell Gnoosic if you liked what it came up with so it can learn your tastes. If you're more of a
visual person, Gibney also has a Music-Map that creates an interactive diagram of artists.
TasteKid... – Like Gnoosic, TasteKid surfaces recommendations based on your existing tastes. But
it's more like a social network in that it shows you how popular that artist is with the TasteKid community. It's smart,
learning more about you with each play. And you don't have to leave the site to sample the suggested songs, as TasteKid
provides a sample of each artist's work, along with an artist bio.
Last.fm… – has been on the music streaming scene since 2002, so it's had plenty of time to garner
devotees. Like other tools, it works from what you already like, but it sets itself apart by connecting with other music
programs like Spotify or iTunes and tracking what you listen to, this is called "Scrobbling". The data gets imported back
into Last.fm's abase for a complete picture of your tastes. You can catalog musicians with really specific tags like
"female vocalist" or "British." But one common complaint lobbed at Last.fm is that its interface is cluttered and really
hard to navigate if you're a new user. And its recommended songs play through YouTube, which means you're subject to
annoying ads and questionable video and audio quality.
Songza – THE END IS nigh for Songza, but the free, curated playlist service will live on in the form of “Listen Now”
playlists on Google Play Music.
The popular music service will stream its last workout playlist, commute soundtrack and set of BBQ jams on January 31,
which was Google’s plan from the moment it bought the company more than a year ago. But its legacy endures. Songza co-
founders Elias Roman and Elliott Breece—now project managers at Google Play Music—say they’ve been infusing Google Play
Music with handpicked mixes. Whereas Songza was available only in the US and Canada, Roman and Breece say its thematic
playlists are streamable in 13 countries. So while Songza’s going away, Roman and Breece say the service’s mission is
stronger and further-reaching than ever.
Grooveshark… – If you're looking for a music streaming app that's all about what other people are
listening to, Grooveshark is a good option. It just rolled out a redesign that's focused intensely on the social aspect of
listening to music, letting users discover new tunes through the community. Filtered by genre, Grooveshark's "Music Feed"
learns what you like and displays songs to accommodate your tastes. Users can tag friends to share music with them and
listen to live "Broadcasts" from other Grooveshark users while chatting at the same time.
There are dozens of movie recommendation sites on the Web. Some require little or no input before they give you titles,
while others want to find out exactly what your interests are. Here are some movie recommendation sites on both sides of the equation. They're all different, some are definitely better than others.
TasteKid.. – If you want more than good movie recommendations, Taste Kid is the site for you. It's simple enough–you input a film you like and it returns results that offer similar action to your favorites. But it goes beyond just movies. If you really like "The Godfather," Taste Kid fills you in on what kind of bands you'll like to listen to, books you'll want to read, and "other stuff" that's related to that film. Taste Kid is a full entertainment recommendation site.
Nanocrowd… – looks like every other film search engine: you input the name of a film you like and it returns results. But the site goes well beyond a simple results page. Nanocrowd allows you to drill down into a more refined search with the help of a "three-word nanogenre." On the results page, you click which three-word category you prefer, based on keywords related to the movie you input into the search field, and Nanocrowd immediately refines your search to get the best film for you. Even better, the films it displays aren't always blockbusters.
Criticker... – places no stock in design, but it does a fine job of finding movies worth watching.
Instead of just allowing you to rank films, the site compares your ratings to those of other users and employs something
called the "Taste Compatibility Index" to see how closely your tastes match these other users. Once the service finds matches, you can view other users' profiles and see which movies they like. Combining community and functionality,
Criticker is a unique service to check out.
Netflix… – asks you to rate movies to determine which films you'll want to see next. And although it does make it easy to rate movies and it does return huge lists, there's too much duplication in the results and the ideas it gives you aren't all that strong. It's easy to use, but it's not the best way to get movie recommendations.
Rotten Tomatoes… – Instead of telling Rotten Tomatoes which films you like, you can tell
it what kind of films you enjoy, which actors you want to see, and other criteria to help it find the best movie for you. There's a lot of variability in the quality of Rotten Tomatoes recommendations but it's also a nice way to find the right film for any mood.
Movielens… – is ugly, but, it makes up for it with a great recommendation engine that evaluates your tastes based on ratings to films you've seen before. Once you rate 15 movies, it returns recommendations that, based on testing, were quite accurate and certainly more relevant than results from Netflix.
Flixster… – is the pretty version of Movielens. The site allows you to rate films and it returns
recommendations that are about as good as Movielens. Beyond beauty, Flixster beats out Movielens because it offers extras
like film quizzes, the capability to monitor friends' ratings, and more. It's good for people who want more than just movie
IMDb… – Instead of asking you to input ratings or to tell it what movies you like, IMDb automatically
recommends similar films to the movie you search for. At the bottom of the page, a "Recommendations" section explains that
if you liked a respective film, you'll like the handful of other films being displayed, based on information gathered from
an IMDb database, which examines films to find similarities and differences. It's a great way for people who don't have
time to rate movies to find some films worth watching. Even better, the recommendations are solid.