ILike is a new iTunes plug-in that will launch tomorrow and leverages free music from independent musicians at GarageBand.com to supplement its otherwise typical recommendations. ITunes plug-ins are becoming increasingly common but music recommendations are particularly frustrating if you have to either pay full price for a song or launch another application to get it.
Integration of free, independent recommended music is the primary point of differentiation between iLike and competitors like Last.fm, MyStrands (disclosure: TC 8 party sponsor) and Qloud. ILike is available for Windows and Mac, it has some social networking features, a MySpace widget and it makes purchasing songs easy.
The ability to drag and drop manual recommendations to friends, the display of friends’ online or offline presence and the public/private options for user data are all very nice in iLike. The URL is certainly a good one.
The company has some heavyweight backing, having taken $2.5 million in funding from Vinod Khosla and Bob Pittman.
In our tests recommendations appeared tied to artists, not songs and that is not ideal. There’s probably not a shortage of iTunes recommendations plug-ins in the world and it’s going to be increasingly difficult to stand above the crowd. The company says it wants to move beyond affiliate revenue from song sales and into event notification and affiliate concert ticket sales. I’m sure everyone wants to get into that.
I’m not sure that free music from indendent musicians is a viable mass market value proposition. While user generated video can draw a crowd, I think that’s because consuming video is a short term relationship. People listen to the same music over and over again, and while many of us may be interested in discovering new music similar to our existing tastes – the lower production quality and lack of familiarty with independent music makes it less popular for more reasons than just limited distribution. Most “independent music” is not very good. Videos that are not very good are much more tollerable than music that is not very good. GarageBand.com is online right now, in case you’re open to evaluating the music there.
In short, iLike has a good URL, good backing, a nice interface and good usability but insufficient differentiation from other options to be a clear winner.