I am big fan of music, and there are two online services I have loved most when I am doing the writing or programming: Pandora from USA and Last.fm from UK. In Pandora, I give my favorite artist or song, Pandora explores their gallery and streams back the the similar style music. With Pandora, I have discovered some very good artists who I didnot know but play the music of my taste. Last.fm is also good at music discovery, but using a different approach. Last.fm looks more like a social network, you tag/search for the music then the system analyses the music you and you friends listen to or like. It is working very well, especially when I want to listen to some music I heard before or played by the artists I knew. Both are excellent services, but one thing both can not make me happy is that they are not Chinese music friendly. Pandora, I cannot even input Chinese which is quite strange; Last.fm has its Chinese version and collected a few Chinese artists but they are far from enough and accuracy. I searched for Zhoujielun (周杰伦) which might be the most popular pop music star, but the artists Last.fm discovered for me were: Tension, S.H.E, etc?!
Cannot remember how I found the Yobo.com, the fact is that I have been addicted to it for about 2 weeks. Actually, Yobo.com was just born at 1st of this month (the date its beta 1 released), it is founded by Allen Guo who graduated from UC Berkeley and was a Manager at Accenture.
I have to say that like most of other Chinese web2.0 startups which are always the fellowships of Silicon Valley, Yobo.com partially works like Pandora. It provides the users with a flash-based online player, allows them give their favorite artist or song and create music stations. Yobo analyses the favorite artist or song, and stream back the music of your musical taste. However, Yobo.com also introduced a new approach to discover the user’s music preference, it is called Yobo SGPD Test. Basically, Yobo.com will ask you a few psychological question about your personality, then it will find out your music taste based on the answers. It is very interesting experience (Yobo thinks I most like Electronic Guitar, which is absolutely RIGHT!). I even spent some time reading a paper published by the author of this algorithm, Peter J. Rentfrow and Samuel D. Gosling. Here is the conclusion they drawn:
Every day, people engage in a variety of activities, from listening to music and watching movies, to reading books and playing sports. Such ordinary aspects of people’s daily experiences are crucial elements of what people are like (Craik, 2000). Therefore, it is reasonable to suppose that information about such quotidian details should play a pivotal role in how individuals come to know about the personalities of others. Our results are consistent with this idea: We found that music preferences provide unique information about personality that is unavailable through other cues.
All in all, I think it is a very good start. I know there is loads of work to do in Yobo.com, regarding its performance, user experience, discovery accuracy, etc. Well, it is just a one-month baby, what can we expect? Pandora’s Music Genome Project started from January 6, 2000, its musicians and music-loving technologists have carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists since then; Last.fm was first launched in 2002 and redesigned in 2005. Yobo, just walk your way and let the music play. I am sure you will rock the Chinese music world in 2007.