A big update landed Monday for users of Sony's Music Unlimited streaming audio service, adding custom artist channels and an array of playlist updates for the PlayStation 3 client.
In our hands-on, the new My Channel feature on the Music Unlimited web site allowed me to create a custom channel by simply inserting an artist's name, as does Pandora. It was simple to setup, so I offered Radiohead and Drake to see how things would play out. According to Sony, the channel is created by "analyzing and categorizing musical traits of more than 10 million tracks" and offering an array of tracks relevant to the inputted artist's sound.
The Radiohead channel first offered "Airbag" from their album "OK Computer," then went on to "Faces in a Dream" by Hurricane #1. Not my exact cup of tea, but the following track "Leaders of the Free World" by Elbow was a bit better. "Herculean" by The Good, The Bad and The Queen was up next, which sounded much more desirable. So far, things are working moderately well.
My test with the Drake channel started with his song "Cece's Interlude," then shifting to "What The Hell Do You Want" by R&B group 112. I did not want that! Things got a little stranger with the next track, "No Greater" by Sparkle. It seemed like my channel was starting to fall into a hole of '90s R&B, but things finally got a little more modern afterwards with Lloyd's "Southside." Out of these two channels, the experience was good, but not great.
Fortunately, the experience should get better the more I use it. I think. Sony says the service will automatically skip tracks that I dislike, but then again I have to dislike it first. Customizing the perfect sonic experience could become tedious if I have to like and dislike things often, but there are also additional algorithms that try to ensure I'll be pleased each time I hit 'next track.'
On a side note, Sony released an update for the Music Unlimited client on the PlayStation 3, allowing users to create, rename, and delete playlists directly from the PS3.