iThink iLike will be a hit, if enough iTunes users discover the free social music discovery service launched today by former MSN manager Hadi Partovi and his brother, Ali.
A handful of key MSN developers left Microsoft to work on the startup, which has offices in both Seattle and San Francisco.
So far the service is for users of iTunes, but support for players including Windows Media Player and Musicmatch is coming. What launched today is a public beta version that’s available here.
The service works online and on the desktop. Online, you create a profile and import a list of friends from Web mail services such as Hotmail and Gmail. You can share their musical tastes by letting iLike see your music library and what you’ve been playing recently. Users can see what their friends have been listening to recently, and find new friends with similar musical interests.
On the desktop, iLike adds a pane that appears alongside iTunes when you run the jukebox on a PC or a Mac. When you play a song, it suggests similar music that you can buy from iTunes, Amazon.com and other sources.
What’s really appealing to cheapskate music fans like myself is that it also suggests similar music from emerging artists that you can download free from Garageband.com, another company run by Ali Partovi. When I’m playing Harvey Danger, for instance, it suggests I may be interested in free tracks such as “The Purple Song” by Mister Vertigo.
The pane also displays songs recently played by people on your friends list. You can send them text messages and comment on their musical tastes. It also has a feature for checking to see how compatible your musical tastes are with someone.
But there’s more. Another tab in the pane lets you create “smart” playlists of music that’s similar to the song you’re currently playing. The lists can include music from your collection, free music from independent artists and music that you may yet buy from an online store.
I’d use iLike a lot if I had iTunes running all the time on my desktop, which I don’t. If my friends were using iLike and sending messages that way, I’d be more likely to keep both applications up and running. As it is, I’ll probably use iLike as a way to build playlists at home and learn about new music now and then.
The Partovis announced the venture in June and a month later received $2.5 million in funding. Here’s a story I wrote on the June announcement, when the service had the code name iJam.