Flookey is a free audio player that learns which music you like through observing your listening behavior and looking at your music library’s metadata.

It then uses this information to suggest songs from your library that match your listening preferences, to create dynamic playlists, and to provide an intelligent way of navigating your audio library.

Now that everyone has gigabytes upon gigabytes of mp3s and audio files, a new crop of tools and recommendation engines have come up in order to either (a) hone in on the music that we actually want to listen to in the midst of all the redundant gigabytes of sound, and/or (b) generate playlists of compatible tracks that will not play Beethoven’s Ninth or your self-hypnosis audio scripts right after that lone KMFDM track that you like.

Flookey is one such program, as is “The Filter“; others I can think of (although admittedly geared towards music discovery rather than dynamic playlists) are the desktop components of Last.FM and Slacker.

How this program works: The process starts once Flookey is done scanning your audio library and as soon as you use it to play any track. Flookey will immediately generate a listing of “compatible” tracks based on the your audio’s metadata, which in the beginning will not be very ’educated’ but will become more refined as you go along. Flookey will observe a number of things, including which tracks in the list you click on (which will be reinforced) and which tracks you ignore (will be de-emphasizes), as well the tracks you play in their entirety and the ones you skip over (I think). Note that it will not necessarily limit its selections to songs of similar genre when it decides which tracks to serve/associate with each other.

Here are some notes on this program:

  • On the fly recommendations: for each song that you play, Flookey will display recommendations in the “Suggestions” section. Each song you play will render a different set of recommendations.
  • Intelligent Navigation: this works as follows; selecting one or more songs (whether in the history, now playing, or recommendations pages) and clicking the ’boost’ button will immediately prompt more ’like’ or ’related’ songs to float upwards on the recommendations pane.
  • Bookmarking: bookmarking a song is a fast and easy way to retrieve a song (and by extension the musical “space” around it) especially if that song is not necessarily visible in any of the panes at that particular moment. A bookmarked song is also sometimes referred to as a “Keytrack”.
  • Searching/keyword boosting: similar to all of the above (and not ’search’ in the typical sense). Typing in ’Radiohead’, for example, pushed most of my Radiohead as well as other tracks Flookey deemed related to these upwards in the suggestion pane.
  • User intervention: at any point you can manually block a song, signalling that it does not belong in the list of recommendations, or otherwise unblock it.

Flookey compared to others recommendation engines: Flookey’s approach is to look at your metadata (i.e. tags) and your behavior in order to create and reinforce or weaken links between your audio files. In contrast, programs such as The Filter and Last.FM make external reference to databases of community behavior (i.e. people who liked these songs also liked or bought these others) as well as having a behavior monitoring component. Personally, my guess is that the products that reference community behavior are probably more effective at identifying links; however, after using Flookey I must say that it seems to do a fairly respectable job.

While this software is very cool and can well provide an interesting and novel way to explore your music collection, the drawback is that for most of us who use a heavyweight media player such as iTunes of Media Monkey to manage our music using yet another media player may be somewhat inconvenient. I couldn’t help but think that it would have been a good idea if Flookey were available as a plugin that works with a number of major Media Players (in the same vein as ’The Filter’ or Last.FM).

Having said this, Flookey does not have to be your main media player and can simply be used when needed as a fun little media player that, incidentally, has a very nice user interface and design. Results and recommendation can thence be easily exported to M3U playlists amd can be played anywhere.

Version tested: 1.04

Compatibility: WinAll. Mac version coming soon.

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 3.18megs).