Alt/Indie Rock = Insanity

So I’m new to Roon. Heard lots of great things about it’s ability to categorize music and link your existing music library with things like Tidal to “explore”. Cool. I like trying new things.

But I’m confused…

Because I have a pretty wide taste in music… I like saying “Mozart to Metallica”. But I wouldn’t confuse Mozart WITH Metallica (okay, the Metallica S&M albums definitely skews things!), but I’m still at a loss of how to deal with Roon’s categorization. It started indexing my library and the first category it threw at me was “Alternative/Indie Rock”. Cool, that definitely sounds like me.

So I start listening… first artist is Ben Fold Five… meh, okay maybe that is one of my wife’s albums :slight_smile: Then we got Chris Cornell, Barenaked Ladies, Bad Religion, Goo Goo Dolls, A Perfect Circle. At this point, I’m thinking “okay, this is pretty broad, but maybe that’s good?”. Next it throws at me:

Beartooth: In Between. What? I’m confused.

Two songs later:

Disturbed: Stupify. WHAT??? I mean maybe if it went with the cover of The Sound of Silence, maybe we’re talking but Stupify???

Then back to Green Day, Foo Fighters, (okay, don’t judge) Creed. Then Blues Traveler??

What is going on? In what insane world is Blues Traveler and Disturbed showing up on the same play list? Later we got Alice In Chains, Deftones, Erasure (LOL)… and then back hitting hard with the Black Veil Brides: Wretched and Devine???

I know things are “relative” and all that, but can someone explain what is this insanity? Because I’m not sure if if categories mean anything in Roon-land? Maybe my tastes in music skew outside of the norm of typical Roon users, but I’m kinda surprised just how bad this is.

Is Roon confused? Do I need to wait for it to digest/learn/figure things out/ask the mothership why bands like like Disturbed is definitely, never, ever “Alt/Indie Rock”? Does Roon need to go back to school or something? Or is my music tastes “bad” and Roon is trying to tell me something?

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It is difficult to know with Roon whether Valence is operating as designed or is just very bad at what it does. Personally I don’t use it often enough to say, but some of the Roon Radio behaviour is quite inexplicable in terms of song/artist choice (based on reading some of the related threads).
My own limited experience is that at times it does hit the spot, but maybe that is related to my music tastes (classic rock), where it is on more familiar ground?

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All of those are categorised correclty. Alternative/ Indie is not one style of music per se it can cover a plethora of styles. Indie name originally comes from being on an independent label nothing more. A lot of this music is more alternative rock oriented but you also get electronic, punk, rap and other stuff too on indie labels. Erasure where on Mute records a large indie label so no surprise. Kylie Minogue was originally on Stock Aitkin and Waterman’s Label which was an Indie label and as a result topped the Indie charts back in the 80’s to many indie purists horror. Noone wanted the Smiths supplanted by ‘I Should Be So Lucky’

But it all comes to what metadata is added by the services , if it’s an indie label it likely gets an indie tag. Roon is only as good as the data provided to it.

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Fixed that for you :grinning: When it comes to metadata and genres, garbage in/garbage out seems to apply. I have always found genres are too wide/incorrect to be useful.

“That Joke isn’t Funny anymore”

But yes genres suck, never use them.

It’s a widespread phenomenon in Roon. When I focus on a Carly Simon album (also don’t judge) I get Alice Cooper in among the results. Riddle me that!

Old people music. Roon does that. It’s not musical, it’s ‘the herd’.

Genres appear to be in the eye of the beholder. Alt Rock to you may be Hard Rock to me. Green Day may be Hard Rock, Punk Rock or Pop; depends of the listener. Is ELO Prog Rock or Pop? Same is true for the rating services. Allmusic seems to be allover(?) the place when it comes to genres. I use my own simplified genre scheme just to make it easier to sort my albums, but I rarely use genres as a listening tool for the reasons discussed by others.

Okay, sounds like I’m definitely not supposed to click on the first thing the Roon app presents me which takes up 1/3 of the screen because that feature is poorly implemented. My bad. Sounds like this has been this way for a while so apparently it’s not a “bug” but a “feature”, because if it was a bug they’d fix it.

So how am I supposed to use Roon? What features work in a way that people like me will find acceptable and enjoyable? What I was expecting was able to pick a genre or some kind of selector and it go out and find music that is either related or tangental to it. I mean there are times I want to listen to Puscifer and bands like that and there are other times I want to listen to Anne-Sophie Mutter (one of my big regrets regarding Covid my wife and I only got to see her play once at the SF Symphony this year); but there is never a time I want to listen to them back-to-back.

Yah! Same here. After all, that’s what it says on the tin.

Unfortunately the content of the tin has been mystery meat for years now. Some parts are identifyable and taste (work) well like queue building and playback (unless there’s a glitch with Tidal’or Qobuz and you have to log in again) but the rest… Mystery meat and luck of’the draw.

There are any number of ways to explore new music in Roon. If you like Puscifer for instance, go to his page by clicking on his name, scroll to the bottom and you’ll see a list of artists “Similar To”, “Associated With” and “Influenced By”. Then head of down any number of trails. If you want to explore passively with no effort, I’m afraid your only option is Roon Radio.

So played with the UI a bit more… it’s definitely “interesting”.

So looking at A Perfect Circle/Eat the Elephant (since it picked that front and center)

Recommended for you:
Gojira / Magma
Opeth / Sorceress

Both are good picks imho. A bit more heavy, but that’s cool.

Then I click on “Focus on Similar” figuring I’d get more of the same…

And some were good picks although quite different from the first two: Breaking Benjamin, 10 Years, Atreyu, Alice in Chains, Bush, Chevelle

Some were missing the mark (as I like these, but not what I’m looking for when I’m choosing APC as a starting point): AC/DC, 311, Counting Crows, Collective Soul

And some which are just whacked:
Bad English
Alanis Moirssettee
Barenaked Ladies
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Bon Jovi
Blues Traveler (again! Roon really like them I guess)
The Cranberries
The Brian Seltzer Orchestra

@David_Gibson: So I went looking for the “Similar To” and “Associated With”/etc and couldn’t find it in the UI? I’m using the MacOS client if that matters.

I will say this about Roon: The amount of metadata it has is really impressive. If I was the kind of person interested in reading metadata about music this would be the tool for me. But I’m kinda more into listening to my music than interested in who did the Package Design or who the Recording Assistants were. I suppose some of those categories might be useful for finding other interesting music to listen to, but more often than not (in my limited testing) it ends up being a dead end or such a hodgepodge of random to be meaningless.

Maybe if I could turn off the “Alt/Indie Rock” tag and have Roon ignore that as a way to explore, then it would useful. It also categorizes APC as Alt Metal, Heavy Metal, Pop/Rock (ugh, another generic near meaningless term) and Post Grunge.

IMO, the metadata are one of the best music discovery features. If you really like a sax player on a particular track, you can usually find who that is in the credits. That musician will be hyperlinked to all the other music they’ve done. You can find yourself listening to Maceo Parker via RoonRadio, see he played a LOT for James Brown, but also for Keith Richard and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
It is a great way to get lost in the music.


What @grossmsj said. My favourite evenings are no work, sat in the bean bag with the iPad and following links of interest / listening as I go. The surest way of me listening into the early hours…

Some of this will depend on how you use and utilize Roon. If you spend more time bouncing back and forth between artists and types of music, that is how Roon will “learn” that you like to listen. If, on the other hand, you spend time selecting artists specifically to match the mood and style of music you start with, then that is what Roon will learn from.

I found that as much as I enjoy wandering through a huge variety and swing of artists and musical styles, when I spent more time listening to albums, or at least several songs per album, Roon then started to make more relevant connections between the choices of artists and styles of music.

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I’m not sure it will though. See the recent Bruce Springsteen thread. It just does not seem to learn or adapt at the individual level.

We probably should all agree that trying to outthink Valence is insanity. Or at least that it will make you crazy.

Been fine for me and no Bruce after the Stones.

Yeah, I’m not the kind of person to just sit there and listen to music and browse the music for hours on my iPad. I’m almost always listening while doing something else (reading or writing code being the two most common activities). I don’t want it intrusive, but I do want to try new things without going off the rails. Definitely wish there was a “mini player” like iTunes has, but I haven’t found it yet. Maybe I’ll just run Roon on my iPad and send the stream to my Bifrost2 (using a raspi) on my desk while coding so it’s there, but not in the way. That’s kinda cool.

Anyways, playing with Roon Radio (not to be confused with Live Radio? which took a bit to find) and it definitely seems to be a different / better experience- although it’s really early and I’ve barely scratched the surface. I do really wish it populated the play list in advance so I can get a feel if this is what I’m looking for, but after throwing a few things at it, it hasn’t done anything head scratching. I will say though, if I pick King’s X, it really seems to really like King’s X… have yet to have it pivot to something else. Haven’t yet gotten to try any classical or jazz yet… might be more up Roon’s alley, but I’m probably 80% rock TBH.

I finally found the Similar To/Followed By/Influenced By part… those at first glance seem intelligent. Might be interesting to explore that a bit. Definitely seems to be better populated for more older/established bands, but I suppose that’s not a huge surprise.

Anyways… need to play more with Roon and see what it does. Seems like there are half a dozen ways to listen to music- all with a different experiences.

You should just pick a track and let it go, it will stick on point better than choosing a genre. So, for example, I played “Snap your finger Snap your Neck” from Prong’s “Cleansing” CD. The next 10 Roon provided selections were:

  1. Helmut “Murder”
  2. Corrosion of Conformity “Seven Days”
  3. Sepultura “Capital Enslavement”
  4. Indian “The End of Truth”
  5. Swarrm “From my Dream”
  6. Faith No More “From out of Nowhere”
  7. Pantera “I’m Broken”
  8. Monster Magnet “I’m Drowning”
  9. DevilDriver “My Night Sky”
  10. It Dies Today “The Bacchanal Affair”

No weird sidetracks into the Carpenters.

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