I was listening to Inside the Net talking about an interesting new company, Pandora.com. Pandora created the Music Genome Project, which is an organization that has professional musicians classify all music into a formula (rock, jazz, etc) to come up with a musical fingerprint to a song. Like an md5sum fingerprint, the musical fingerprint is supposed to be pretty unique and allows a computer to classify similar sounding music.
With the music genome project, Pandora offers a way to expose the listener to songs that are most similar sounding to your favorite songs. Most other music suggestion engines offer you a popularity comparison (other people that liked song X also liked song Y). Popularity comparisons only reinforces popular music but does a bad job exposing new musician to new audiences. Pandora, however, offers to find obscure songs that sound 'like' any song you give it.
Cool concept, right? Well, it would be a great service if the DMCA didn't mess up Internet radio so badly that I'm calling Pandora a failed United States experiment.
I went to Pandora to create a radio station for my 3 year-old daughter. She has been singing the "Purple People Eaters" by Big Bop. After easily finding the song based on the title, Pandora created a radio station and told us how sorry it was that it couldn't play the song we most liked (requested in DMCA language) but here was the most similar song it could find to the seed song. To my excitement, my daughter liked the similar song and we listened to that song to the end. The next 5 songs, however, were not good enough to stop my daughter from asking where was the "Purple People Eater" song. And after skipping around 5 songs, Pandora forced me to listen to one song in its entirety. Again, Pandora apologizes profusely for not being able to skip the song because of the DMCA.
Pandora would be a great service if it could get rid of the DMCA asinine rules on digital distrobution of music. They should probably pack up all their servers and rent space from the Pirate Bay.