Musical Soulmates

Friday, 22 August 2008
by mark
filed under Announcements
Comments: 28

One of the nicest bits of feedback we’ve had here at HQ in the past few weeks was a message from two users who had just started a life together. They wrote to say that it all started through common musical interests on, which led to them becoming friends online, and, over time, to discover that they were true soulmates. Yes, honestly.

As it happens we’ve been using the idea of a musical soulmate – someone who shares your most important musical tastes, your loves, likes and dislikes – to guide the development of our new neighbours service, which you can try right now, along with the other cool demos on

Our goal for this new service is learn how to introduce you to other users who have lots in common with you – so you can be sure to find something you’ll like if you explore their home pages or listen to their personal radio. Making this vision a reality is challenging, but we think we’ve made a promising start. We’ve also tried hard to design the service so that we can quickly incorporate new ideas into the way we find neighbours – so please let us know how you think we’re doing, and what would make your neighbours even better.

So how is the new service different? In the first place we’re now able to use live charts to create a musical profile which we match against other users. This means that your neighbours can change as soon as you start to listen to new music. We think this is specially important if your tastes change over time, or if you’re new to (we can start finding neighbours for you after the very first scrobble). In the second place we do more than just matching profiles. We make sure that all the neighbours we suggest have scrobbled something within the last couple of weeks, and if you’re heavily into several genres then we try to find at least a few neighbours for each of them. We take into account everything you’ve told us about your music listening, loves, bans, tags, etc. We also use some special stats to measure how aspects of your musical personality compare with other users. If we have time we may break out the coolest of these onto a separate “Compare yourself with…” page. In the meantime you might enjoy Anthony Liekens nice tool to compare tag clouds.

One feature we’ve already added to the playground demo is the chance to give us some extra help if you think we could do better, by suggesting some artists that your neighbours ought to be into, or not into. Even if you’re not that interested in neighbours, here in the research team we’d really like to hear how you get on, as we can use what we learn about neighbours to help improve all our recommendation services. And if you do find a musical soulmate through, please let us know!


  1. afonso
    22 August, 10:36

    how do I filter by gender and geographical proximity?

    afonso – 22 August, 10:36
  2. Mark Levy
    22 August, 10:59

    @afonso if you click on the advanced options link then you’ll see a form where you can enter gender, age and country info

    Mark Levy – 22 August, 10:59
  3. Kimiko
    22 August, 12:19

    Ooh, cool new feature! 8)

    What I’d like to see is a way to weight the selection more heavily towards recent musical tastes. For example, I get a lot of neighbors who are into country music, but I haven’t really listened to that for months now.

    Kimiko – 22 August, 12:19
  4. Kimiko
    22 August, 12:26

    Also, you should add an explanation that the advanced options dialog doesn’t accept more than two artists in either field. I tried three or four, but got “no results”, even though there were possible matches.

    Kimiko – 22 August, 12:26
  5. maz35
    22 August, 13:00

    This does look promising, finally a neighbours system that doesn’t just link me to people who listened to my Top artist a lot. More variety is good.

    maz35 – 22 August, 13:00
  6. Mark Levy
    22 August, 13:06

    @kimiko thanks for your comments!

    1. we try to use a sensible mix of your recent and longer-term listening – we’re working on a way to make sure that everyone is happy with it

    2. the artist fields do accept more than two names, but if you put in lots we simply may not be able to find anyone who matches exactly – we’re looking forward to finding out how people get on with this feature over time

    Mark Levy – 22 August, 13:06
  7. Daryl
    22 August, 13:26 the internet’s coolest dating site

    Daryl – 22 August, 13:26
  8. Jon
    22 August, 13:47

    Interesting idea. I’ve always figured that older scrobbles should count less than more recent scrobbles (at least, if there’s a some sort of pattern). My reasoning is that taste changes over time. Back in the 90s, I was into a handful of bands that I listened to a lot.

    Some bands (like the Dave Matthews Band and Phish, for instance) allow fans to tape their shows which in itself is rather awesome. That way, you pretty much have an infinite supply of great live music. I used to listen to those shows a lot and some of those bands are still in my Top 10.

    These days, I don’t listen to them all that often but the sheer amount of scrobbles from back then still heavily influences the selection of my neighbors (or at least so it seems). If one were to assign a “value” to scrobbles based on how long ago they were recorded, it would have to be a smart system. In my scenario above, not listening to those bands would indicate that I like to listen to other music now. I probably still like those bands but I don’t like them quite as much. OTOH if I were to still listen to something I listened to five years ago, that’s probably a good indication that I really, really like that band.

    I hope that makes sense (I am still kind of tired). Apologies for the long post.

    Jon – 22 August, 13:47
  9. Max Howell
    22 August, 13:58

    Either this system is amazing or you fixed it to pop my girlfriend up as my top soulmate.

    I hope she doesn’t read too much into that…

    Max Howell – 22 August, 13:58
  10. melilot
    22 August, 15:19

    Well I’m not searching for an “âme soeur” as we say, but I think there should be more interactivity with the neighbours : maybe games, blind tests on our common tastes, even a place where you can discuss with them alltogether (a bit like a group, even if it’s difficult because not everybody have the same neighbours), …
    BUT the real problem for me is that you don’t know who you’re the neighbour of ! it’s very rare to find it and I feel a bit frustrated about this…

    melilot – 22 August, 15:19
  11. joshkouri
    24 August, 21:45

    Sounds great. I more or less stopped looking at my neighbors over a year ago since they remain fairly static. I like that you are changing it to be more dynamic and to update more frequently. It’s also great that it will only connect you with active users and will take into account different genres. All the upcoming changes seem to address the weaknesses I’ve always perceived to be in the neighbor system. Woo! :]

    joshkouri – 24 August, 21:45
  12. Gabriel
    25 August, 07:55

    There seems to be some mixup with the login status: It says I must login, I click on the login link ( and it redirects me to my home page ( where I am logged in already. Probably because I only have a cookie for and not Is there any way I can use this?

    Gabriel – 25 August, 07:55
  13. James Wheare
    25 August, 20:46

    Hey nice! How about putting playcounts for each of the artists we share. (the neighbour’s plays, not mine) and link to that artist in their Library so I can see which albums they’ve listened to.

    James Wheare – 25 August, 20:46
  14. Peter
    26 August, 19:53

    That sure sounds complex but seems like an amazing feature. It will definitively make the neighborhood system more interesting. Not to mention the possibility of finally finding that soulmate… Great stuff!

    Peter – 26 August, 19:53
  15. World
    28 August, 04:04

    Cool new feature! Thanks and greetings!

    World – 28 August, 04:04
  16. Emily
    28 August, 17:59

    This is a brilliant new feature.

    However, the minimum age for my searches is 18. I am 16, so could this be lowered to 16 or 17 or is it something to do with protection for younger users? It’d just be cool to find other users my age with similar tastes.

    Emily – 28 August, 17:59
  17. amatala
    31 August, 10:53

    I think that the each user should be able to customize the list of artists in his/hers library which should matter most for neighbor calculations.
    For example, if I absolutely love certain artists, I should be able to say that I do not want any neighbors which do not share ALL of these artists!
    The problem today is that I get spammed with lots of neighbors which share many of my artists – but none of them shares ALL of the artists I like most…

    amatala – 31 August, 10:53
  18. pumpkinlll
    1 September, 00:28

    “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”

    I love them all! The neighbour system seems really cool 8)

    pumpkinlll – 1 September, 00:28
  19. seeker6628
    2 September, 10:26

    I like current system where you have a set of neighbors based on overall stats, that changes slowly over time.

    I like in the current system where it shows the last track your neighbors have played.

    I miss the feature of the old site where it showed what your weekly neighbors were listening to.

    If I could have it my way I would at least like to see the last played track for each neighbor.

    Also it would be nice to have options to view matches based on overall, last 6 months, last week and an option to view by continent/region.

    Later, Seeker

    seeker6628 – 2 September, 10:26
  20. Dirk&Carmen
    3 September, 08:11

    Dear Afonso,Mark,Daryl,Jon,Melilot, Max,Joshkouri,Gabriel,Peter,James,Amatala,
    Emily,pumpkinlll,Seeker & World… friends of the spanish language & good music:

    we want to inform you that your mission of web-investigation for interesting sites about music and culture is not longer in vain:-) There finally is a goal for your virtual desire: – ¡The blog with rhythm in its blood!

    Come and visit us and leave us a comment about the articles. Read our interviews with Juanes, La Excepción,Culcha Candela, Devendra Banhart,Ojos de Brujo…etc. or just let us guide you through proposals and links towards pages where you will find real treasures of international music of all kinds, not always beyond mainstream, in and outside Berlin. And all this in Spanish!

    ¡Hasta la (entre-)vista!

    Dirk&Carmen – 3 September, 08:11
  21. Fick6969
    4 September, 03:46

    Realtime updating is nice, as is not using profiles of people that haven’t scrobbled in a while. However I get the impression from the playground that only a short time span and a relatively small number of artists are used for comparison. Unless the intent is to eventually have both an overall set of neighbors and a weekly set like on the old site, I don’t much care for the other changes.

    Neighbors should be based on your overall charts (with no weighting based on when last listened) and at least half of your artists. A scrobble is a scrobble. Whether it was listened to 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago, it’s still part of my overall taste and should be used in computing my neighbors.

    I listen to a lot of music from a lot of different genres and will often go weeks or months without playing a band I might like a lot – not because I like it less, but just because I have been trying some new artists or listening to someone else I hadn’t played in a while. There’s never enough time to play everything I’d like to hear unfortunately.

    Neighbor computations based on what appears to be only be a few weeks of listening data using what appears to be about 7% of the total bands I listen to don’t generate neighbors that are very useful for me.

    Fick6969 – 4 September, 03:46
  22. Bennie Rowan
    10 September, 22:26

    This is my current favorite artist. He’s fairly new, so not a lot of people know about him, but his music is hot. Speaking of musical soulmates, listen to this song: “Pocket Change.” what artist do you think he should collaborate with? www.Myspace/

    Bennie Rowan – 10 September, 22:26
  23. Mike Delpach
    15 September, 11:08

    Excellent new feature. Nice story about the couple who met in!

    Funny thing happened when I set my filter to Female and Australia, I was down to ONE result; and looking at her profile I was sure she already had a boyfriend.

    Mike Delpach – 15 September, 11:08
  24. Alan71
    17 September, 02:02

    You’d better put a captcha here dudz :‘D Come up with a nice idea, instead of the classic alpha-numeric one.

    Nom nom nom, spam

    Alan71 – 17 September, 02:02
  25. Aleksi
    17 September, 23:27

    1st off, I totally agree with Fick6969 – I would like the neighbour calculations to be based on all my scrobbles, not just from the last couple of weeks. I too have a big pool of artists and genres that I listen to and I too can go weeks, even months without listening to a band I love.

    My second point concerns the weighing of different genres a user listens to. I listen to a lot of heavy metal (and many of its subgenres) and regularly get neighbours who like many of the same bands that I do. I like Iron Maiden, so do they, I like Judas Priest or Helloween, well so do they etc. While this is useful to some degree, it would be hugely more useful if I could put more weigh on bands from different genres.

    Let’s say two new neighbours are introduced to me:

    *With Neighbour A, I have 30 common artists from one genre but not much else

    *With Neighbour B, I have 7 common artists from that same one genre, but in addition to that, 10 common artists from several different genres

    For me, Neighbour B would be the more interesting acquaintance though we had less common artists together than with Neighbour A.

    Anyhow keep up the good work…

    Aleksi – 17 September, 23:27
  26. flowers
    18 September, 08:30

    good post!

    flowers – 18 September, 08:30
  27. l0v3parade
    18 September, 22:32

    users like me really appreciate this new neighbor feature. after about 20,000 tracks you seem to get stuck in the same old neighbors/recs.

    l0v3parade – 18 September, 22:32
  28. Gilberto
    20 September, 07:25

    I always thought your system of neighbours and compatibility suck bemcause it puts too much emphasis in the first 2 or 3 artistis in your overall ranking, even if you spend a long time not hearing them.

    But this “soulmates” system seems much better. I was surprised to see a girl that I met, like 1 month ago (using “orkut”, mostly because of our similar musical tastes) as one of my soulmates. Our tastes are very similar but the compatibility system says that we are “medium”. Very nice. Too bad she lives thousands of miles away, haha.

    Gilberto – 20 September, 07:25

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