How do I Google Music?
September 3, 2015 8:52 AM   Subscribe

I was an early adopter of Google Music with the "all access" feature, and have been generally happy with the service for listening to my own library of music and adding new albums from artists I already know I like. The one thing I really don't care for is the automated playlists. Is there any way to improve its suggestions? Should I try to use some other feature of the service to find music? Or is it just not very good for this task?

The service has some kind of mood playlists feature grouped into strange categories like "Throwback Thursday" and "Cleaning the House", but drilling down through the many levels of hierarchy is a pain in the ass, and the resulting mixes haven't been very good at all. More often than not I just use "I'm Feeling Lucky" as a "just play me something" button, which always seems to give me a few tracks it knows I like (because I thumbs-upped them, or played them, or whatever) and then a bunch of semi-related garbage.

I know that no recommendation engine is perfect, but I figured with Google's big data mining power they'd have done better than Pandora, which I don't use anymore, but used to give me much better results than I'm getting from Google Music so far. At least with Pandora, I knew that the thumbs-up/thumbs-down were feeding into the algorithm for that channel, and could approach something resembling what I wanted out of the recommendations. I haven't gotten close to that with Google Music. Is it even using the thumbs up/down? Is it keeping track of which songs I skip?

I know that GM has an ecosystem of user-curated playlists, but finding the good ones takes so much time that I'd be better off creating them myself. My goal is to get a mix of songs I already like and some new songs sprinkled in that I might like. I know this isn't a trivial problem, but does anyone have any suggestions for using the service better?
posted by tonycpsu to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
My solution for discovering music and playlists I like is roundabout, but it works really well. Think of an artist you love, then go to (the company Google acquired that creates the curated playlists) and sign in with your google account, then search for that artist. It should bring up every playlist on Songza (and consequently Google Play Music) that contains that artist. Then it's just a matter of searching for that playlist name in GPM, and playing that. I think it does take the thumbs into account, but at a far slower rate than I've noticed Pandora responding, in my experience.
posted by brocrastinator at 11:23 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I don't believe thumbs up are an indicator to anyone but you, although if you gives a track a thumbs down, it'll be skipped. Google isn't otherwise monitoring your skipped tracks--you need to give them a thumbs down. As to your central question, the reason those mood playlists seem strange and not personalized is because they aren't; Google Music is integrated with Songza, and the playlist themes and their contents have been chosen by them. If you want a playlist that corresponds to your taste, a radio of an artist, album, or song, as well as the I'm Feeling Lucky option, are the only ways to do so.

I agree with you though that Google doesn't seem to have a very good recommendation engine, and I haven't heard of any way to game it. I've frequently told the service I'm not interested in three albums by the same artist, only to have the rest of their discography recommended to me as well.
posted by lunch at 11:23 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

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