Goombah is the best example yet of using technology to harness the Internet’s power for artist direct distribution. I had an experience today that exemplifies this, but first, some background. Gary Robinson, CTO of Emergent Music LLC and the creator of Goombah, explained his vision to me in a recent email:
25 years ago I was hanging out in singer-songwriter circles in Greenwich Village, NYC … I saw how much absolutely fantastic music was never going to be heard outside of a couple of folk clubs in NY and Boston. As soon as I got the idea about what could be done about it, which I thought of around that time, I started investigating the math aspects.
Whatever math lies beneath Goombah’s recommendation algorithm, it hit a bullseye with me this morning. After Goombah catalogs your library, it allows you to build lists of specific artists. It then creates lists of “recommended tracks” and “recommended users” from those specialized subsets. Today, I built a list called Folk Rock that included some of my favorite artists like Patty Griffin and Kasey Chambers. Sometimes, an artist isn’t in their user database. This happened with Antje Duvekot; Goombah didn’t allow me to type her name in, but I was able to drag it in from my library list.
After a few minutes of searching (I’ve found the time varies), Goombah located and ranked 100 tracks from their 2 million user song catalog They were all good selections, and none of them were in my music library. It also put 5 free tracks in the top window – one of which, “When the World Ends” by the Bittersweets, is my favorite piece of new music today. I guess the Bay Area is all over this band; they’ve opened for Rosanne Cash at the Mountain Winery, and KFOG, my morning drive station back when lived there, plays them like crazy.
But I’d never heard of them until Goombah sent me their track. Now I know that their label, Virt Records, is also home to Shane Nicholson, a favorite of mine from down under (and the new Mr. Kasey Chambers), as well as Ellery. Ellery’s free track popped up in the five song window after I’d moved the first batch of suggested music into iTunes. I’m listening to it now. Not as good as the Bittersweets, but not bad either.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be. I tell the Oracle of Music what kind of mood I’m in (Americana Girls, please), and it responds with some great new stuff I’ve never heard before. If I like the track, I can click through to iTunes Music Store and sample the rest of the album.
A note on free music – I recently blogged about Goombah and observed some odd behavior there. Gary Robinson had this to say:
The recommendation algorithm for free music is different from the recommendation algorithm for non-free music. In particular, the free music recs will be getting major improvements in coming weeks and months. It’s been a lower priority because we don’t (yet) have many thousands of free tracks.
A whack of new tracks are added every “Free Music Friday” at Goombah, so today’s a great day to download the program, which is available for Windows 2000/XP and Mac (Panther and Tiger). As I continue to play with the beta software, I’ll post new discoveries.
For now anyway, here’s my new mantra: