Thanks to the DJ Jazzy Jeff and a free web app, we're wondering why Darnell Jenkins is so important.
How did we get here? First, Jazzy Jeff Townes made a whimsical video about his road manager Jenkins being the most important man in the world, and then he tweeted it. I follow Jazzy Jeff on Twitter, so the video was added to my automatically-generated Serendip playlist, which scrapes your followed Twitter feeds for music and puts it in one easy-to-hear place.
Whenever anyone you follow links to a piece of music, usually in the form of a YouTube video, it gets added to your station, which shows the videos in addition to playing the songs. You can skip anything you don't like, while the handy "Airing" button offers a quick way to retweet whatever you dig.
We like this Airing feature, because it automatically adds the #airing hashtag to your tweet, providing a quick way to search for what other Serendip users are listening to on Serendip, at which point it's your call whether to add that person to Twitter and/or Serendip.
The way Serendip decouples the music on Twitter from Twitter itself lies at the core of its appeal. The web app strikes a balance between the strengths of the popular social networking service (Serendip wouldn't exist without Twitter) and standing alone as an independent application.
Say there's a friend whose opinions you value, but whose taste in music is questionable to say the least. You want to keep getting his tweets -- but don't want him anywhere near your Serendip station when he posts his latest crunkcore jam.
To ignore his music while keeping him as a friend on Twitter, simply Mute him in Serendip. Likewise, when the service recommends music from outside your Twitter feed, as it does on occasion, you can add the person who tweeted it to your potential pool of DJs without cluttering your regular Twitter feed with their nonsense -- sweet.
Still, this brings us to a minor gripe with the service: We don't know what's driving its recommendation engine, or what Serendip feeds into that system, but it was way off in our testing. The first three recommendations (Joe Cocker, Ric Ocasek, and 9mm Parabellum Bullet) were equally mystifying. Serendip is so good at extracting music from Twitter that it might be better without that recommendation feature.
One more small suggestion, and then we'll quit whining about what really is a neat, free way to find music (did we mention there's no commercials, and no limit to the number of songs you can skip?).
When accessing the settings menu, you're taken away from the main page, and that stops the music. When you come back, you start at the beginning of whatever song you were listening to. Opening the settings page in a new tab solves that problem, but it would be nice if Serendip did so by default.
Otherwise, here we have a great new radio and music discovery app to which I offer perhaps the highest praise I can give: I suspect I'll still be using it long after this review has posted.
Serendip is a new and exciting music experience that creates a personalized music programme based on the people you want to listen to.
The programme is composed by your friends and music soulmates, most of [whom] you don't even know... yet.
Serendip plays what goes on around you, your social soundtrack.
The music, the people, the context -- Serendip, the sound of now.