The Filter, Peter Gabriel’s new online music, movies and video recommendation service launched this week.
As with Last.fm, it aims to provide users with recommendations based on their preferences and listening habits, but is it as good?
Users need to sign up and give some basic information on their tastes before they can get started. In the case of music, you are asked to tick your three favourite music genres from the list:
Then you need to rate a number of artists/bands from the music styles you have selected, and repeat the procedure for your favourite movies:
This isn’t much information to be able to determine your musical preferences, but The Filter does have some other ways to improve this.
You can import information on your listening habits from your Last.fm account, and the service will use this to build up your profile. Also, you can download The Filter for Windows.
This is an application that tracks what you listen to through Windows Media Player, WinAmp or iTunes, and uses this to improve the accuracy of its recommendations.
The approach to recommending music is interesting, combining the preferences you enter manually, with your listening and purchasing habits.
The Filter recommends six albums at a time, and users can click on the album covers and listen to excerpts from a number of tracks on the album before asking you to rate it:
If you already own an album you can mark it and it will not be recommended to you again, which is useful, while you can ask for more albums if you don’t find one you like.
Having used the service for a day or so, the recommendations were pretty relevant, and improved once I had imported my information from Last.fm.
Once you have a recommendation you like, you can choose to buy it from Amazon, We7, Nokia, or the iTunes Store.
The site uses the same process for rating movies and videos though, since it cannot plugin to iTunes or Last.fm, the recommendations aren’t as accurate as with music so far.
There is a social network element to the site, you can see other users that are listening to the music you like and ask them to be your friend,
Once you have done this, you can email people via the site, as well as writing on their wall, Facebook-style.
The Filter is an appealing and easy to use website which provides some very good recommendations, which will surely improve over time once it has had time to learn your tasted via iTunes and Last.fm.
The main problem for me is that Last.fm already does much of this while offering more for users.
For example, you can only listen to short extracts of tracks on The Filter, via a player at the bottom of the page:
This is useful to get a quick idea of songs, but is no match for Last.fm, which will recommend and play you whole tracks.
In addition, once you have set up Last.fm and linked it to iTunes, it makes recommendations and slips songs into your radio without you having to make the effort, whereas with The Filter you need to put more work in to get results.