The way we discover and buy music has changed almost completely over the past decade, and the benefits are obvious: instead of going into a store and choosing from whatever it has in stock, we now have instant access to virtually all the available music, whenever we want.
However, search functions and recommendation algorithms often don't feel as rewarding as browsing the shelves in a record shop and picking something out you'd never have otherwise listened to, because the cover looks interesting.
Design collective Open Work (opens in new tab) feels the same, and it's come up with a fantastically up-to-date alternative to flicking through racks of vinyl. Predominant.ly (opens in new tab) is a new site that categorises albums by the predominant colour on the album cover.
By combining iTunes metadata with a collection of colour name tables – the main source being a crowdsourced list of 954 (opens in new tab) compiled by Randall Munroe, author of excellent geek webcomic XKCD (opens in new tab) – Predominant.ly is a simple (and quite addictive) way to discover a wealth of albums in a delightfully random way.
All you have to do is click on an enormous colour chart, and you're immediately given your colour's name (along with its hex and RGB values, because they're always useful) and presented with all the albums in the iTunes database that mainly feature your chosen colour - on the cover.
You can then click on any album cover to discover more details, and from there you can open the album in iTunes, have a bit of a listen and then buy it if you like what you hear, with the added bonus that Open Work receive a small cut from anything you buy.
It's all a bit random, and that's what we love about it; you can never be sure what you're going to come up with. "We want to bring an element of serendipity back into the search for music," explain Open Work, "making the experience as personal and delightful as stumbling across a long-forgotten favourite in a second hand record store."
So what's the predominant colour of your favourite music? Let us know in the comments.
Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for children's parties.
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