[Thanks to Stephen Hartley-Brewer for the kernel of this idea]
My brother is my musical weather vane, my song-canary who knows what’s good long before the rest of the world has cottoned on, and points out the things I’ll like. I treasure his advice, partly because it’s good, and partly because it comes from him.
But just for badness, pretend you don’t have a brother with his ear to the ground. Instead, you have a big computer that you’ve fed the listening habits of the entire world. Ask it two questions:
1) who is listening to music that’s hugely popular (or that I like) a year ago?
Those are your early adopters.
2) what are they listening to now?
Throw in some collaborative filtering to tailor the recommendations for me.
Are iTunes or Last.fm doing this to predict who’s going to be big next year?
Are the record labels doing this to predict where they should put their marketing money?
Can bands buy this information to figure out which users to send promo albums to?
If there was a prediction market for music, could my brother get paid to tell people what he likes and dislikes?