Genius: The iPod guide

Good playlists are personal masterpieces. From high-powered jogging lists to collections of study songs to compilations of Disney classics, playlists are essential to any musically inclined college student. But when you’ve got an itch for something different, it becomes a drag to sift through thousands of songs for a quick hit-list of reggae tunes. Apple, creator of the near-ubiquitous iPod, aims to provide a solution with a rare new feature: Genius.

Released last week alongside redesigns of their flagship product, Genius accompanies the new iTunes 8 onto your computer and on your iPod. Select a song, and the Genius sidebar gives you recommendations and “Songs You’ve Missed” — with the appropriate 99-cent links to the iTunes store. Hit the Genius button, and you’re transported to a new playlist, instantly generated from your library based on the song you selected.

For example, you can select “This Love” in your music library, hit the genius button and instantly get a playlist full of other pop/rock power songs. Not satisfied? Hit the button again and refresh the list.

While many people on campus still haven’t heard of or used the feature, those who have said it was a useful time-saver.

“I don’t like making playlists,” Lauren Motzkin ’12 said. “If you’re in the mood for one thing specifically, it makes a playlist that suits it.”

But it doesn’t always have all the answers. If you don’t have enough songs in your library that match the selected song, or if you select a more obscure song, Genius stumbles.

Best Buy takes over Napster

Where did you buy that latest addition to your music library? Chances are, you bought it online from the iTunes Music Store or another Internet music retailer. With CD sales dropping and online sales skyrocketing, traditional retailers have jumped onto the Internet bandwagon. Earlier in the week, Best Buy declared itself a competitor in a big way — buying Napster and, more important, its users and technology.

The effect of the deal is still unclear, especially on a college campus, where music is often as much a part of life as eating and sleeping. But when told of the purchase, students were skeptical.

“There’s so many of them. This feels like just another fish in the pond,” Adam Thomas ’12 said, referring to online music retailers.

The electronics retailer unveiled its own online music store, the Best Buy Digital Music Store, two years ago, but the attempt failed to take off in any significant way. With this purchase, Best Buy intends to aggressively expand its offerings into other media, such as movies and TV shows, and compete with the current leaders in the market.

—Compiled by Tim Xu