Patent App would trigger Zune downloads based on user's musical preferences

A newly posted Microsoft Patent Application appears to describe technology that would provide automatic downloads to a Zune media player if newly tracks from various artists whose work is already stored on Zune or on a user's PC-based library becomes available.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

A newly posted Microsoft Patent Application appears to describe technology that would provide automatic downloads to a Zune media player if newly tracks from various artists whose work is already stored on Zune or on a user's PC-based library becomes available.

Although the Patent App entitled Automatic delivery of personalized content to a portable media player with feedback does not address a payment mechanism for a user's rights to this content, it does describe how this content might be automatically obtained.

My read of this Application's literature introduces a typical scenario. Say you have five Dave Matthews Band tracks already stored on your Zune. Dave puts out some new tracks. A music service could flag a track for promotion, and that track could automatically be pushed down to a Zune- or your PC media library- in much the same way Windows Updates are pushed through to users.

With specific regard to direct downloads to Zune, this might be accomplished by equipping future Zunes with Wi-Fi hotspot or even phone capabilities that would sniff for signals from music content providers that new tracks presumably of interest to the user are available for retrieval.

A read of the Patent Application Abstract would be helpful here, I think.

Automatic download of personalized media content to a portable media device based on user preferences is disclosed. A media service can evaluate content on a user's media device as well as user action related thereto to infer the user's preferences, and can automatically aggregate and download content that is relevant to the user's tastes.

The user can subscribe to, for example, playlists generated by the media service, another user's playlist(s), a simulated radio station, etc., and can receive content updates thereto at predefined intervals and/or upon release of the updates. In this manner, the user can periodically receive media content that is personalized to the user without requiring the user to explicitly request the content or synchronize to a PC.

A look at Figure 2 and a read of its accompanying documentation offers a deeper level of detail on how this will work. So let's follow.

FIG. 2 is an illustration of a system 200 that facilitates automatic transfer of personalized music content to a user's media library and/or portable music player, in accordance with various aspects.

The system 200 can comprise a music service 202 that can provide music files (e.g., songs, MP3s, music videos, MPEGs, WAVs, . . . ) for download to one or more portable media devices 206 and/or associated media libraries 204 via the Internet or some other interface. For instance, a user can explicitly download a song to the portable media device 206 or to the media library 204, or both.

The media library 204 can reside in the portable media device 206 (e.g., as a memory component, . . . ) or can be a separate entity from the portable media device 206. If separate, the portable media device 206 can communicate with the media library 204 to retrieve songs upon request.

Additionally, the music service 202 can automatically download personalized content to the media library 204, which can be content that is not explicitly requested by the user. For example, a user can provide information related to the user's music preferences (e.g., genre, artist, time period, . . . ), which information can be utilized by the music service 202 to determine content that has a high likelihood of being pleasing to the user.

Additionally, personalized content can be generated and/or downloaded in response to one or more triggering events, in a manner similar to that described above with regard to FIG. 1. For instance, personalized content can be playlist-based, whereby a user A can download a playlist created by user B.

User B can be another customer/subscriber to the music service 202, a content editor, and automated process (e.g., "Top Songs," "Top Songs by Artist X," "Sounds Like (insert local radio station)," etc. Upon an update of the downloaded playlist by user B (e.g., a triggering event), user A can automatically receive songs added to the playlist.

For example, the "Top Songs" playlist can comprise a number of top songs (e.g., top 10, top 25, top 100, . . . ) that can be updated daily, weekly, or according to any other suitable schedule, and updating of the playlist at the music service 204 can act as a trigger to cause automatic updating of the playlist in the portable media device 206.

According to another aspect a "Sounds Like xxx.xx FM" can comprise a playlist of songs similar to a particular genre of music played on xxx.xx FM. Additionally or alternatively, the "Sounds Like . . . " playlist can comprise an actual playlist of songs played on the particular radio station over a predetermined time period. This aspect can be facilitated by permitting an additional subscription, a premium subscription, or the like, if desired.

According to another example, personalized content downloaded from the music service 202 to the media library 204 can be user-based. For example, user A can subscribe to User B (e.g., another customer/subscriber, a content editor, etc.) and can automatically receive any playlists (and songs therein) that are created by user B.

An update of a user B playlist can serve as a trigger to automatically download songs, corresponding to the updates, to user A's portable device.

In a similar manner, personalized content can be user-recommended, such as where user A can receive automatic downloads of songs, albums, playlists, or other media that are recommended to user A by user B.

To further this Example, user B can be a content editor, such as a playlist generator sponsored or employed by a manufacturer or company (e.g., a shoe manufacturer, a sports apparel manufacturer, an advertising company, . . . ). For instance, in the event that the content editor is associated with an athletic shoe manufacturer, the editor can update a workout playlist (e.g., comprising upbeat song tracks, . . . ) according to a predetermined schedule (e.g., weekly, daily, . . . ), which can be automatically downloaded to the portable media player 206 and/or the media library 204 whenever the playlist is updated.

According to another example, user B can be content editor associated with a company that sells aroma-therapy products, and can generate playlists comprising soothing song tracks and the like. It will be appreciated that the foregoing examples are provided for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended to limited the types and/or numbers of playlists, companies, products, etc., that can be employed in conjunction with the various aspects presented herein.

According to yet another example, personalized content can be music-service-recommended. For instance, the music service 202 can employ a plurality of factors to facilitate evaluating content for automatic download to the media library 204, and thereby to the portable media device 206.

According to this example, content already residing in the user's media library 204 can be evaluated to glean information related to user preferences and the like. Similarly, information related to a number of times a particular song is played or is skipped, as well as song rating information (e.g., by the user, by all or a subset of users who have downloaded the song, . . . ), can be evaluated to facilitate inferring personalized content for the user.

Still furthermore, the personalized content can be music-service-device-recommended, which is similar to music-service-recommended personalized content except that such a recommendation is independent of the music service.

This latter recommendation can be achieved by evaluating information associated with files in the portable media device 206, which information can include the above (e.g., ratings, play events, skip events, . . . ) as well as explicitly downloaded songs. Such information is illustrated by the "Usage Data" arrow connecting both the media library 204 and the portable media device 206 to the music service block 202.

According to yet another aspect, as a user manages and interacts with the media library 204 and or content on the portable music device 206, the user's "overall taste profile" and/or "portable music player profile" can be updated.

These changes can directly influence the songs that are recommended and automatically downloaded by the music service 202 and, as a result, can affect the content placed into the user's media library 204 and/or portable media player 206.

If a user adds content to a portable music player that has recommended content on it, the user-added content is "explicitly added content" that will take priority over recommended or personalized content, and the personalized content that was pushed to the device can be removed. Similarly, if a user's taste changes, a list of recommended music can change and, as a result, content pushed to the device can be removed.

Still other aspects relate to providing user prompts for user approval, ratification, or the like, of added content, content slated for removal, etc. For instance a user can be presented with a list of songs that are slated for removal to make room for newly downloaded content, and can approve deletion thereof either wholesale or individually.

In this manner a user can selectively retain songs or other media that may have been previously downloaded as personalized content, explicitly downloaded, or otherwise.

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