Peter Gabriel Launches Entertainment Aggregator
Recommendation engines, aggregators, filters, selectors, DJs, friends, and algorithms: all are tools to help us find more relevant, cool stuff, by selectively narrowing the infinite entertainment choices available to us on the internet.
Many have tried (Pandora, Last.fm, Digg), to varying levels of success, but none have hit upon a truly revolutionary, magical recommendation formula.
Is Peter Gabriel building a better filter with The Filter?
As professional aggregators/filters, we're both friendly to and suspicious of services that claim to be able to sort through tons of media options and find stuff we'll like.
We like the idea, because finding good/interesting/important stuff is a big part of our job, and it'd be great to find services that make it easier. Of course that also means we may find ourselves out of work one day -- if these things ever work.
Luckily (for us) none of them have figured it out yet. Vote-based systems, like Digg, tend to end up with a fairly rigid sense of what's good/interesting/important and never swerve outside of those lines; automated engines are too...automated. Maybe there won't ever be a real replacement for DJs/editors/friends with good taste.
That wouldn't be the worst thing: We'd keep our jobs, and people would get to use the services as additional guides, not primary ones.
But plenty of people are trying to make it work. The latest is The Filter, from Exabre, a British company backed by Peter Gabriel and $8 million in funding; it wants to sort not just music but movies, videos, TV, etc. As best we can tell, The Filter lies somewhere between Pandora, which recommends music without regard to context or labels but based on the music's "DNA", and services like Last.fm and Amazon.com's engine, which tells you that people who like x also like y. Proposed business model? A mix of ad-supported portal (one day) along with potential referral fees for the likes of Amazon and iTunes, as well as some licensing fees for other media companies.