The Neglected User in Music Information Retrieval Research

M. Schedl, A. Flexer and J. Urbano
Journal of Intelligent Information Systems, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 523-539, 2013.


Personalization and context-awareness are highly important topics in research on Intelligent Information Systems. In the fields of Music Information Retrieval (MIR) and Music Recommendation in particular, user-centric algorithms should ideally provide music that perfectly fits each individual listener in each imaginable situation and for each of her information or entertainment needs. Even though preliminary steps towards such systems have recently been presented at the “International Society for Music Information Retrieval Conference” (ISMIR) and at similar venues, this vision is still far away from becoming a reality. In this article, we investigate and discuss literature on the topic of user-centric music retrieval and reflect on why the breakthrough in this field has not been achieved yet. Given the different expertises of the authors, we shed light on why this topic is a particularly challenging one, taking computer science and psychology points of view. Whereas the computer science aspect centers on the problems of user modeling, machine learning, and evaluation, the psychological discussion is mainly concerned with proper experimental design and interpretation of the results of an experiment. We further present our ideas on aspects crucial to consider when elaborating user-aware music retrieval systems.