I have quite a range of music on my iPhone, but often, I can fall into a rut and listen to the same set of songs over and over. Sometimes I need some motivation to explore the depth of music that I own and I've found Syntonetic's free Moodagent to be just the swift kick in the pants that I need.
As its name somewhat implies, Moodagent generates musical playlists based on your current mood. The app presents five sliders, each representing a different musical/emotional quality: Sensual, Tender, Joy, Aggressive, and Tempo. By sliding each bar up or down, the app will generate a 25-song playlist that represents the selected mix of qualities.
For example, say you've had a fight with your significant other. If you crank up the Sensual and Aggressive sliders while minimizing the other three, then Moodagent will suggest some good angst-ridden love songs to get you through your rough times. If you're more the sulking type, though, you might feel more Tender than Aggressive, and so Moodagent will adjust its recommendations accordingly.
If you want more precise control over a playlist, you can also select a "seed" song before adjusting the sliders; the app will refine your selection using that particular song along with the musical categories. Another option is to queue up a song in the iPod app before opening the app. Moodagent will then use that song as its seed. If you like the playlists that Moodagent generates, you can save them for playback within the app.
The key to this working reliably is to make sure that the app knows how to categorize your music. The first time you use it, you will want to index all the tracks on your iPhone or iPod touch with the Moodagent server. Unless your musical taste is very mainstream (or until the developers have indexed an enormous variety of music), you will also want to download the Moodagent Profiler desktop app which will, like Apple's Genius function, go through your iTunes library and upload anonymous information about your iTunes tracks to the Moodagent server. The more people who use the app and index their music, the better Moodagent's database will get. Moodagent cannot profile songs protected by iTunes DRM, but the developers recommend running an index periodically on the chance that someone has indexed non-DRM versions of your DRM-protected songs.
Although Apple's Genius playlist feature is supposed to fill this sort of niche, I haven't found it all that interesting, perhaps because it simply recommends music based on category. I decided to give Moodagent a try thinking that it would be more of a gimmick than anything else, but I quickly developed a real liking for it when I found that it was actually pretty accurate and it built playlists that I really like. If only Moodagent could save them as standard iTunes playlists, then this app would be nearly perfect.
[Brian Beam is a moody musician, web developer and partner with BOLD Internet Solutions, living somewhere near Kansas City.]
This story, "Moodagent for IPhone" was originally published by Macworld.