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03 juin 2008

Gabriel knows what you like in your wardrobe

Musician Peter Gabriel has launched two new Web services aimed principally at music lovers. The Filter, a personalised entertainment content filtering system, went live today at offering to help users discover new music, film and web video, based on their individual tastes and moods.

Gabriel, former lead singer with UK prog rock outfit Genesis, and latterly a champion of World music, has also teamed up with audiophile Hi-Fi maker Bowers & Wilkins to offer high quality downloads of selected albums from his state-of-the-art Real World Studios.
Peter Gabriel
The Filter aims to provide a guide not only to music, but to other content areas such as books, TV and podcasts to enable technology to supply users with entertainment tailored to their specific tastes.

"The first freedom the Internet brought was the possibility of access to any content, at any time, or anywhere,” says Gabriel. “Now that many of us are drowning in choice, we need good tools to help us make smart decisions. Traditionally, we have had help from people who are more knowledgeable than ourselves, or whose taste we trust, and today we have expert systems to help guide us.

The Filter integrates the best of both approaches, man and machine, and takes data learned in one area to help guide in another. For example, data about musical taste can help produce better selections in film, or someone else's tastes - friend, celebrity, whatever - can be mashed up with your own to provide new and interesting discoveries. As well as being fantastically useful, this thing is real fun too.”

Users who visit The Filter and undertake a brief taste profiling exercise will receive a daily homepage of music, film, and web video recommendations, all personalised to their taste. Further usage of the site will enable The Filter to learn and therefore improve the levels of personalisation.

This sounds excellent in theory and sadly must remain theoretical for the time being as our repeated attempts to sign up to the site resulted in abject failure. It may be that the initial load on the site was the cause of the problem, although the pages still being labelled 'beta' did not instil confidence.

One excellent facility that we were sadly unable to test for ourselves was the ability of the site to import user preferences from other sites such as which also suggest content based on a user's entertainment tastes.

The Filter is operational in 164 countries and its database currently includes over five million songs, 330,000 movies and more than 50 million individual purchases and playlists.
We look forward to it working properly. It sounds like a good idea.

CD quality

Gabriel's venture with Bowers & Wilkins is less adventurous, but promises members who sign up CD-quality downloads and an album of the month.

B&W's Society of Sound music club promises an exclusive album every month, specially recorded and downloadable in a 'lossless' file format to provide CD-quality sound.

Each album is recorded in Gabriel's Real World studios and can be played on an Ipod or burnt to CD. The club promises albums spanning many different genres and styles, some well-known, some undiscovered. "The only common factor is quality. This is a chance to hear truly brilliant, original music by outstanding musicians working at the peak of their powers," says B&W.

he company is offering a free trial of the service giving access to the subscribers' area and the opportunity to download a shortened version of each album for three months from the sign-up date. X

Check out
The Filter
Society of Sound

By Andrew Thomas IT

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