The future of music is . . . radio?

We've passed through the MP3 revolution, then moved into the streaming cloud — but in the future, we're going de-evolve back into the old days when our music was chosen for us by a DJ. Except of course this DJ will be a personal surveillance device.

That's what Janel Torkington argues in an article for Medium about the next wave of music services. She argues that the missing piece for most people who use services like Spotify is that they don't want to choose their music. They just want it to be played for them. Now companies are trying to figure out how to craft the perfect, personalized music stations — like Pandora, only better.

They're experimenting with using personal data to generate music suggestions. Janel mentions the new service Beats:

With Beats, you tell the app heaps of information as regards your taste up front, starting with genres and leading into specific beloved artists. From there, the service offers a stream generated by a mix of stated personal preferences, precise algorithmic mathematics, and expert curation.

Getting even more context specific: there's the feature boldly dubbed The Sentence. Fill in a mini-Mad Libs as to where you are, what you're feeling, who you're with, and a genre of choice (i.e. "I'm On A Boat & Feel LikePunching Walls With Robots To Oldies").

Beats gets it right in that the perfect music for the moment is a combination of taste and context. It's intriguing, and I definitely want to hear that robotic wall-punching playlist.

And Spotify is taking things even further with the context idea, trying out features that would feed you different music based on what you say you're doing. They dream of a day when your mobile's accelerometer could tip them off to whether you're running or walking — and future sensors, like heartrate monitors, to reveal whether you're stressed or happy. With these cues, they could feed you boppy music when you're sad. Or, you could tell the service that only The Smiths will do when you're walking at a dejected pace.

So the future may be radio. But unlike radio of the past, it will know your every move and mood.

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