iLike FriendsiLike is a free service that integrates with iTunes that not only helps you discover new music based on your personal tastes, but also can put you in touch with others with similar tastes.

iLike is a service by the folks who brought you Garageband (the website, not the Apple iLife application), a site for indy bands, musicians, and their fans. iLike helps you, the listener, find other like-minded listeners and similar-sounding bands based on your current music library and song plays. I know Adam’s talked about iLike and you’ve written in and provided other examples for similar services, but I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at on the MacCast blog.

The concept is not a new one, but built in iTunes integration (I believe) is. Simply download the “iLike Sidebar for iTunes” (which works on either PC or Mac). Once downloaded to your desktop, double click on the installer and follow the straight-forward directions. Soon, iTunes will launch and relaunch with a new sidebar on the right. I found that this pane actually takes up a fair amount of screen real-estate, but that might just be me and my out-of-date PowerBook.

iLike will scan your music library, play counts for the songs, as well as the songs you’re currently playing and then offer up related songs that the service thinks you might like. Some songs are direct links to the iTunes music store. Some songs are free and legal music downloads by new artists, which are pulled from those artists who have signed up with the Garageband website.

Once you’ve created an account, you can also add iLike friends, which can be generated automatically from others with similar music tastes on the iLike website, or you can bug your friends to join and share their preferences (while creating an account, the iLike service makes it easy to tell your friends about the service). Also during the setup process, to figure out some of your preferences, iLike displays a list of popular artists and asks you to click on the ones you like. After you’ve created an account, the iLike site generates a MySpace-like page for all to see, based on the songs and artists in iTunes and the additional ones you’ve selected. If you’d prefer to keep your musical tastes private, you can do so, or only allow friends to see what you like.

I mainly store my iTunes multimedia on an external drive connected to my Mac mini, so the iLike Sidebar installed on my PowerBook isn’t getting the full sampling of my music tastes, but still, the recommendations work well and help me to find other new artists that I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. Ah, the Long Tail at work!

I think the iLike concept of promoting new artists based on a listener’s tastes is a good one, and their execution really has the Apple user in mind—it’s easy and well integrated with iTunes.

If you’d like to share your musical tastes (or see my lame ones—don’t judge, it’s not my entire library!), you can find my profile here. Man, I’m asking for it now!

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