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August 1, 2008

The Filter – Filtering Out The Excess To Impress

ss-thefilter

Friends often ask me how I find out about bands and movies, particularly as many of the ones I like are so obscure, but would seem so radio & TV-friendly if mainstream stations and channels would just give them a chance. I tell people that I either browse Amazon recommendations, MySpace friends lists, or indie/alternative charts from Europe. But, to be honest, for most people that’s a little arduous and a tad too time-consuming. So what are the options for everyone else?

The Filter is a new web-based service that consists solely of recommendations for music, film and video. The signup process begins with choosing your favourite genres, and rating some artists. The same is done for movies, but, unlike similar sites such as Flixster, there’s no way to skip the ones you’ve not yet seen.

The recommendations are laid out nicely in three columns – music, movies and YouTube videos. There are six recommendations in each column, allowing you to focus on just those recommendations, and opting to see more or subscribing to a feed. In addition, the site provides music and film-related news, as well as messaging and social networking with other users. There’s also an option to email recommendations to a friend, or buy the product if it strikes your fancy.

Overall, this is a simple site, but it does what it says: recommendations. The Filter offers a good mix of the indie and more mainstream names and titles, which will either open you up to new tastes, or help you rediscover old movies/bands you might have forgotten about.

Practical Uses:

  • Discover hip, upcoming bands as you realize that your interest in one band means you just might like a little-known band that’s strikingly similar
  • Rediscover long-forgotten childhood movie favorites or one-hit wonder bands you liked before starting to build your music library
  • The site’s standalone player means you can continue discovering new sights and sounds as you do other tasks on the computer
  • Like a particular actor/actress? Browse their entire filmography and see what else they have to offer

Insider Tips:

  • Be generous with genre selections if you’re open to new ideas; be selective if you’d rather not be flooded with too many recommendations
  • The more you rate, the more accurate the recommendations
  • The “obsession” feature allows you to make note of something you like the most

What We Liked:

  • Very simple layout
  • Accurate recommendations, especially as you provide more ratings
  • RSS feeds enable you to publish your interests to your friends and place content on your own blog/MySpace pages

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Some genre snafus (as an example, Celine Dion was listed in the “rock” category)
  • No way to actively recommend new bands/movies and help to build up the database

Alternatives:

Company Info:

  • Launched: 2008
  • Privately held
  • Headquarters: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Founded by: All Media Guide LLC
  • Website: www.thefilter.com

Costs:

  • Free