Is iTunes’ Genius Getting Dumber?

iTunes’ Genius feature is designed to help you find music that “sound(s) great together.” For example, if you find a song you like, and want to make a playlist with other songs that should “work” with that song, you can do so. Select the song, right-click, then choose Create Genius Playlist.

As far as I can determine – Apple has never publicly explained how Genius works – Apple looks at the music libraries of millions of users to determine which songs “sound great” with others. So, if lots of people have a certain song, Genius will look at the crowd-sourced library of all other songs they have, then compare them with your library to give you a playlist of songs that fit.

But it seems that Genius is changing; getting dumber. When I last updated my ebook Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ, I took the following screen shot to illustrate creating a Genius playlist:


I’m working on an update to the book now, and I’m checking a number of things as I go through it. If I choose the same song – The Clash’s London Calling – today, here’s what I see:


iTunes no longer has any Genius suggestions for this track, which is far from being obscure. I’ve been noticing this recently, in fact, on my iPhone. When walking, if I don’t know what I want to listen to, I’ll start playing my music in shuffle mode, then create a Genius playlist from a song that sounds right for my mood. I’ve found many cases when iTunes no longer is able to create a Genius playlist.

(Some other artists whose music doesn’t show Genius suggestions include Talking Heads, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen (Born to Run; seriously…), The Doors (the song L. A. Woman), the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty, and much more. I’ve confirmed this on two different computers, so it’s not just a question of my Genius database being corrupted on one Mac.)

What about you? If you use Genius, have you noticed an increase in the number of songs where iTunes has no Genius suggestions?