Sonemic: A Powerful New Tool for Music Discovery

Many listeners have voiced a shared concern that the algorithms and predictive technology for music recommendation from services like Spotify and Pandora fail to match the sort of intuitive wisdom held by record shop gurus and librarians predating the digital revolution. What these algorithms lack is the human element – the chaos factor which leads an individual to suggest a recording not quantifiably parallel to one’s previous listening habits, but which still has a quality which would lend itself to the listener’s favor. Engineering that visceral comprehension into a recommendation engine has been one of the most insurmountable challenges of the digital age.

That is precisely what has made communities like RateYourMusic.com an incredible asset to those in search of music beyond the well-tread path of popular song. The community-built database and forum features user-generated lists, listener reviews, and a powerful search function to drill down to impressively nuanced metrics to yield charts based on a wide range of criteria.



RYM launched in December of 2000, and has since outgrown its name and its site design. To enhance the user experience, a new public beta site was launched in the last week of July, 2017 at Sonemic.com boasting a sleeker, more modern design and greater functionality.

The term Sonemic, (rhymes with phonemic), comes from an interview with Brian Eno, in which he suggested that the word “music” was too limited in scope, and suggested the term “sonema” to refer to the broader sense of “sonic immersion and environment”. All RYM user data was migrated to the new network, but the FAQ notes that no new content will be saved to Sonemic until the official launch.


The network seamlessly integrates three separate sites – Sonemic for music, Cinemos (an anagram of Sonemic) for film, and Glitchwave for video games. There will also be a Sonemic+ subscription option with extra features to be announced. Logging in on one site will log you into all three, and site settings, messages, etc will be unified.


The search functions of the site are impressive though results vary as it is still in development. When building a custom chart users are presented with numerous options. Chart type can be best, most popular, esoteric, or worst. Charts can rank by either releases or by individual tracks. Release types include albums, EPs, and singles as well as mixtapes, DJ mixes, video, compilation, and even unauthorized recordings. And the site will generate playlists on the fly.



Further functions permit a user to generate charts by genre, subgenre, influences (secondary genres), languages, and what is perhaps the greatest differentiator – descriptors. Here users can enter incredibly specific properties which unify otherwise disparate recordings based on a theme, such as aleatory, boastful, cinematic, dense, ethereal, hedonistic, introspective, lonely, misanthropic, nocturnal, quirky, raw, ritualistic, surreal, uncommon time signatures, or winter.


By selecting genres, influences, date ranges, and descriptors to include or exclude, Sonemic can return results you might never find from a commercial streaming service. There is even a 5-degree slider to control the influence of popularity on the results. You can also search for recordings based on reviews of a particular community member or of a given geographic area. Together, these functions empower users to discover music far more dimensionally and has the potential to shed light on works which transcend the simplicity of genre labels.


This will definitely be a community to watch in 2018.


Last Change to Add Your Voice to the Innerspace Music Discovery Survey!

A huge thank-you to all who’ve participated in The Innerspace Music Discovery Survey!  I need just a few more contributors before I begin my write-up, so if you haven’t answered the single-question survey yet – now’s the time!

It takes about 1 minute, and the results will be published in an upcoming article.  Add your vote now and tell us how YOU discover new music!

Click here to answer the single-question survey before it closes!

musicstreamingservices

Highlighting a Classic but Effective Discovery Tool

I’m a tremendous fan of music recommendation systems, and love to put them to the test.

Pandora’s song-characteristic matching system is intriguing, but I wanted to highlight one of the first examples of a music recommendation engine that I can recall. Marek Gibney’s Music-Map was the earliest incarnation of his Gnod (Global Network of Discovery) engine. Enter an artist and it will visually cluster related artists in an animated plain-text cloud.

Music Map

Give it a try!

Gnod.com went on to expand and now includes recommendation systems for art, film, and literature, but where it really shines is its fantastic visual product mapping system for users shopping for smartphones, tablets, and other devices.

Tablet Chart

I’ll be giving the literature engine a try this evening for classic dystopian fiction and for music non-fiction.

While I usually swear by rating aggregation systems like metacritic and rateyourmusic, Marek’s project has a simple yet effective interface and the interactive cell phone and hard drive maps are impressively useful.

Have at it!

Published in: on March 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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