Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Radio as a Conversation

I have been in a web 2.0 conference all day and been pondering the deal. One of they key tenents of the new business paradigm encompassed in "web 2.0" is that interactions with your customers need to move from a "push" model (you will take what I give you) to a "conversation" (tell me what you want and I will try to provide it to you). [Those of you that have read The Cluetrain Manifesto, this will sound very familar to you.]

I have to think this is one of the key hurdles that terrestrial radio needs to overcome - and gives CBS (and their network of radio stations) the ability to overcome. Instead of radio station music directors programming what you should hear, they will move towards curating what you hear. The difference? In the former, they push.... in the later, you make suggestions and then select and refine. In the case of, CBS can leverage all of the data collected via the millions of installed audioscrobbler plug-ins on users machines. That data is extremely powerful. Not only does it tell you what the "head" of the long tail is, it gives them visibility into what in the tail is starting to make it's way up the body. By aggregating the listening behaviors and trends of the audience for all of their stations, the users passively program the stations. Do terrestrial radio station music directors need to fear for their jobs? I don't think so, but I do think they need to learn the same lessons as the rest of us. Listen to you customer and give them what they want - don't give them something and tell them they should want it. also represents quiet a nice hedge for CBS in that they still have a (very compelling) play when broadband IP makes it way to the car. In addition to tuning into one of their standard "group" stations, users can also select their very own "personal" station (delivered via wi-fi or 3G networks).

There are lots of other interesting ramifications/opportunities represented in this deal... but those are the ones I'm currently chewing on. Thoughts?

CBS Buying

More on this later...


In the vein of and Webjay, another new entry in the space is a French startup called Jiwamusic. In addition to building and sharing playlists from "free-range MP3s", they also enable you to upload your own - which I think is a legal liability (just look at what is happening with Imeem). – A music sharing community - "If you are a music lover and you like to check out what other people are listening to, join, a community site where you can create and share playlists through your member profile. Other people can see what you are listening to, and you can check out their personal playlists. It looks like the site is still getting on its feet, as right now most of the member profiles are pretty incomplete and there aren’t too many people joined yet. Once it is up and running, it could be like a more user-controlled Pandora site, providing you with new music based on your current interests. You can see from peoples’ profiles what they are into and in this way find new music. When you see a song you want to check out, just click on the link and you can listen to it right on the site. It may not work well if you don’t have a high-speed connection, but at least the site doesn’t require you to install anything to use its services.

In their own words:
“With JiwaMusic you can search and listen to your favorite tunes, create and share your playlists... "

Jiwamusic has some nice touches that I wanted to highlight:

  • it is simple to queue up tracks to listen to, or clear the queue and listen immediately
  • they surfaced artists that I didn't expect they would have (see below)
  • they build auto-playlists out of your recently listened (from their site)
    they display how many people (and who) have subscribed to your playlists - a great feature to see who you are influencing and establishing social connections
  • unlike others in this space, they aren't enabling you to download the MP3 - but instead are opting to surface a "buy" link (coming soon) - it could be an interesting sales driver, particularly in a DRM-less world
  • their customizable (color/size) embeddable player gives you some freedom to make it match the destination site

All-in-all, I was impressed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What do all you Webjay users do not that Yahoo is pulling the plug on the service? One option is is one part MP3 search/aggregator, one part MP3 bookmarking site and one part XSPF playlisting site. They are also offering a pain-free way to import your playlists (or anyone else's for that matter) from Webjay.

While the in-page player (in the header) is touted as a benefit to pop-up players, I have always found these a bit frustrating. I often find myself clicking away on links while I'm listening and many times the page refreshes on you and stops playback.

Other than that, looks pretty solid for free-range MP3s - but I would like to see some more prominence of the playlists and community.

Other playlisting sites you may want to check out are Musicmobs & Fiql.

Song of the Day - "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova

Everyone has been raving about the new "musical", Once (courtesy of Moviefone). Not only is there buzz about the movie, but the soundtrack as well. I just realized (after watching a review on Ebert & Roeper) that Glen Hansard is the lead singer of the Irish band, The Frames (courtesy of Foxytunes). I'm a big fan of his voice. Check it out for yourself...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Holiday Traveling Tunes (UPDATED)

Need some ideas for a playlist for your long weekend travels? You may want to take some inspiration from here:

The 77 Most Unforgettable Movie Songs - AOL Music

Now with Fiql Playlists for those of you on Rhapsody or Napster....

Uber Embeddable Player: Now Featured in Facebook

I had never heard of Uber before I read this article.

Epicenter - Wired Blogs: "The Flash-based player, included with Uber's drag-and-drop assets management system, launches with an exclusive music track by hip hop subversive Gnarls Barkley. Uber CEO Scott Sassa told Underwire, 'We think that shared media is a vital part of the community and something that Facebook hadn't pursued on its own. What we're providing is an opportunity to very quickly access tons of media, so you immediately grab any kind of media, easily store it and easily share it.'"

Just taking a quick look around Uber, it appears to be a pretty standard social network with a slight bias towards photography. Their most notable differentiator is the ajax-y pages where you can drag assets off of other peoples pages to drop into your library.

I'm guessing there is more (I only spent about 2 minutes on their site), check it out for yourself...

UPDATE: I missed the forest for the trees... the big announcement was the debut of Facebook's open platform and positioning as the "anti-MySpace". Totally open to any/all widget makers. There is good coverage of the ones announced at Mashable:

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MP3 Search

I've been thinking about search lately and wondering where the various mashups get their MP3s. A couple of days ago, I mentioned a hack to Google that will return MP3s from the index. Some sites use freely available music videos as their source, some search, some index hundreds of music blogs, and others are trying many other things I'm sure.

One of the best sources had been SingingFish (now known as AOL Audio Search). It is hard to find, but the latest AOL Toolbar still surfaces it:

But, what are the alternatives? Well, I found this article that highlights 10 other options that you may want to check out.

11 Best Places to Search Free Music- liquid parallax's Blog: "I wrote earlier about the death of Singingfish media search, an amazing resource of online music. Since then I’ve been seeking alternatives to and I’ve got 10 solutions that will help you find that free mp3 that got lost in the interweb. Starting in order from average to best (1 is average, 10 is best). I tested the searches using the technique I dub the “Paul Westerberg method” (the standard of not using today’s most well-known band, but not being too obscure either).

My personal preference is MP3Realm - and with the pending death of Webjay, people may want to check it out. Basically, it works this way:

  • search for a song/artist (or lyrics)

  • find the MP3 you are looking for and "add to playlist" (or listen or download)
  • build a playlist
  • once you have done that you can download the playlist as a whole (as .m3u or .asx file)
  • or, you can just choose to listen right from the site - this will launch a new browser window that leverages the flash-Winamp clone, Wimpy Player

I'm not sure where they are getting/creating their index, but they claim to have more that 2 million tracks and 700,000 lyrics cataloged. Check it out...

Couple of Things...

A handful of interesting tidbits early this week...

1.) Yahoo is shutting down Webjay by the end of next month

2.) Pandora announced "Pandora Everywhere" which includes availability on a number of Sprint handsets and on the Sonos digital home audio system - also included... a redesign

3.) SoundExchange is offering relief in the new proposed royalty rates for "small webcasters"

4.) RocketSurgeon has a review of Audiobaba

Monday, May 21, 2007

Is Google Universal Search the Ultimate Music Mashup?

There has been a bunch of talk this past week about Google's new Universal Search. Basically, it returns search results from all of their previously disparate search products and integrates them into a single set of results.

While this seems like a natural progression, it got me thinking about the various music search/mashups that I have recently talked about - FoxyTunes Planet, PluggedIn, and others - and how Google is taking their approach but supersetting them with the pure breadth of coverage.

Just think about all of Google's search products (web, image, book, blog, groups, news, finance, local, etc.) and how powerful that could be when built on top of a music/artist search experience. Then fold in their other properties of YouTube, Google Groups, Google Talk (with their scrobbler-esque Music Trends data aggregation), Blogger, Google Maps and their other products. Now feed in their massive audience and reach, and AdSense/AdWords products. Wow. The one piece that they don't surface (that they should) is MP3 search. It never really struck me that they don't surface media files in their results, but it's obvious that they could easily do so if they wanted to. So, I did a little research and found that indeed, it is easy...

Google: -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" "Last modified" mp3

Using this string we are using the "index of" and the inurl commands to attempt to isolate directories only. The mp3 tag on the end tells google to look for mp3s in these open directories. You can change this to wma or ogg if you wish.

You can add additional search criteria to focus your search more.

Google: -inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3 "pearl jam"

This command will find open directories with mp3 files with Pearl Jam. Obviously you can change the band name or file type to better define your search.

It is quickly becomes apparent Google could instantly ten-up the rest of the music-specific search/aggregation sites...if they wanted it to. I have no insight if they do or don't... it seems like they have been very careful around the copyright issues in the past but maybe with the YouTube acquisition they are getting a little less risk-averse?

Earlier in the year I suggested that Google should buy Maybe they are just going to build it instead?

Sunday, May 20, 2007 New Bite-Size Pieces

Man, I can't keep up. After stumbling across - and writing about - the new Rhapsody community stuff, I decided that I need to update some of my widgets in my sidebar. Remove some of the stale ones, tweak a couple others, and add a couple new things. I noticed that my widgets were broken, so I went on over to see what was up... and wouldn't you know it, they now have a bunch of new flash widgets and some deeper MySpace integrations. Not only can you publish the widgets directly to your MySpace page (and Facebook soon) - but you can also import you MySpace music profile information to build a radio station.

In addition to flash charts and quilts, there is now also some sidebar-friendly radio and playlist players. The playlists also are relatively new and enables you to build playlists out of the full-tracks that are available throughout the service.

The game is really heating up, with the big guys getting bigger and new start-ups popping up every day. For the latter, I think it may be time for many to start looking to consolidate...

Rhapsody Slow Rolls Community

I'm a fan of iterative development practices, but often times I find that the trend leaves me in th dark about new features that I would have like to been notified about. Smaller companies are great about having a prominent product blog that lets you know what's going on... but that doesn't yet seem to be the case with Rhapsody, Napster, iTunes and others.

The latest development that took me by (delightful) surprise was the long awaited introduction of user profiles and community features in Rhapsody. I logged on for the first time in a couple of week - I use a lot of different services, and bounce around between them. I was surprised to see a new module on an artist page of "Fans". A little nosing around and I saw that "My Profile" was now featured in the header. Pretty standard process for setting up a profile, although the optional fields are far too static for my taste to be useful. Check me out at:

Just the fact that I finally have a public profile and can find (and be influenced) by others is a *very* welcome addition. In my opinion, this was always one of the most powerful and compelling aspects of my dearly beloved/departed MusicNow.

They have a couple of interesing treatments in the user profiles as well. They visually treat artists (and the amount you listen to them) as a tag cloud. I like it. They also give visitors your page a quick "meter" of your affinity to different genres (I'm 63% Alternative/Punk ad 27% Rock/Pop). Pretty cool, but I'd like to see more granularity here - down to subgenres/styles.

I'm assuming this launched really recently because the number of "Top Fans" on Artist pages(another good cue taken from MusicNow) is still pretty thin. This also needs to be rolled out to member profile pages.... call it ego, but I want to know what other users I am musically influencing.

If you guys are in Rhapsody - come check it out, and let me know where I can find you.

UPDATE: The Rhapsody community still has a long way to go - in terms of finding other members, enabling them to influence your recommendations/instant playlists, and baseline usability - but I'm glad they are finally getting into the game.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Song of the Day - Lilly White by Rocky Votolato

I know, I'm getting more and more "folky" as I get older. Must be wearing off from my beatnik parents an all the Joan Baez they used to listen to. Before a workout or a fast drive, I still love to get my Rage Against the Machine on... but while working on my computer the folk stuff just sets the right mood.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Music Mashups as a Business

I love music 2.0 mashups... I've written about a bunch. Most started with someone just pulling together a couple of sources of information to solve a specific personal need. The next logical step? Turn it into a business.

I've been lucky enough to see a handful of new ones that have yet to launch (and some that have). Some are move evolved than others... but the basic concept is the same. Build a music destination without actually having any content themselves. YouTube, Flickr, these companies get the users to provide the content (and/or usage data). Then these tertiary aggregators suck in all the content via open APIs, stitch them together, scatter some ads around the dynamically created pages, and voila... instant business. Most of the companies that are doing this now are small startups. Some haven't even launched, but are in acquisition talks with major media companies.

What a great business model. The fact that they are leveraging freely available/syndicatable content to fulfill an music consumption experience is smart. No licensing costs to them - no legal liability for the "gray" content that they surface. Of course, the labels are going to figure this out and start to try and figure out how to get a piece of the action.

More Music 2.0 Companies (in logos)

Jadam over at RocketSurgeon has posted a mosaic of different music 2.0 logos... with a handful of companies that I have yet to add to my delicious tagroll.

Take a look for yourself...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Imeem Gets Sued

I think most of us saw this coming...

WMG sues imeem for copy infringement: "Warner Music Group Corp. is suing the operators of the social-networking Web site imeem, claiming the portal enables millions of computer users to share its artists' music and video content without permission."

Actually what I think is even more scary is that the *users* of imeem could be next. I'm guessing that the company is looking to claim safe harbor protections - in that the users are uploading the content, they don't check to see what it is. The issue for the consumers are that that all of the content that they upload is attributed to them - so they are just as exposed to litigation.

Check out my earlier coverage on them here:

And listen to The Arcade Fire courtesy of their service...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Adding to the Choir

Another great new music 2.0 blog has just arrived from an old partner in crime of mine... check it out at I've also added his blog to mediaor, my music/tech blog aggregator.

On the Lamb

I go to New York every week... Most often on Mondays. Usually this means I don't post on those days (or tuesdays since I am catching up on all the missed emails fom my travel day). Well, I have recently joined the devil by sucumbing to the lure (or hex) of a Blackberry.

What does that have to do with you? Uh... well nothing really other than I am going to see how well I can blog using this thing.

How's it going so far? :-)

(Written from the shuttle bus as we traverse the Lincoln Tunnel)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Senate to House - "We see your bill to save Internet Radio, and raise you"

Now we are talking... momentum is building in Congress to save Internet Radio. Check out for all the latest news and how you can help, but things are looking up...

Listening Post - Wired Blogs: "Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) today proposed legislation to keep Internet radio alive by vacating a Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) decision that could increase Internet radio sound recording royalties by 300 percent to 1,200 percent."

The "raise" I alluded to in the post title is that while this bill is virtually identical to the bill being introduced in the House, the Senate bill adds a stipulation that SoundExchange would have to reimburse webcasters under the new rates if they're overturned by appeal or Congressional intervention.

I'm sure it was total coincidence, but the day after I called my Congressman he signed on as a co-sponsor on the House bill. If nothing else, it makes me a tad less disenfranchised with the state of our political system...

Goombah Yah...

Goombah just announced that they are now leveraging Napster's freeplay trial to create a listenable recommendation playlist. Basically, here is how it works:

1. Download the client application (available for Windows and Mac)

2. Let Goombah analyze your iTunes library (other media players are not yet supported) - depending on the size of your library it may take up to 20 minutes

3. Once the analysis is done, the application will recommend other Goombah users and songs (presumably using basic collaborative filtering algorithms)

4. The song recommendations come in two flavors... free/promotional tracks that can be played and downloaded directly into iTunes (and into an auto-created "Goombah" playlist) and all other tracks. If you are just selecting a single track, then you are also given the option to deep-link directly to Napster's, Amazon's and iTune's catalogs.

5. The most compelling piece is the integration with Napster at the playlist level. Basically, you can click "play recommendations from members" and it will take your list of 100 recommendations and try to match as many to Napster's catalog as they can. After a few moments, it determines that it found "28 of 100 tracks" (for example) and then launches using Napster's freeplay (pops the Napster dhtml player and starts playing the playlist).

6. And of course like any good "music 2.0" service, all of your listening behaviors are captured to passively program a music profile and community. By the way, I've got a new widget on my sidebar that links to a bunch of my profiles - now including my Goombah profile.

As I've talked about many times, the Napster "freeplay" trial enables users to stream any track in the catalog for free up to 3 times (on the 4th try it rolls back to a 30 second sample). I am a fan of this approach (similar to Fiql's - see my post title "Fiql Revisited" from a couple days ago).

I feel like there should be a "meetings of the families" of all of these cool small music 2.0 companies. If a handful of these guys joined forces, they could really create something with real momentum behind it - not to mention benefit from each other's strengths.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Curse of the Scrobbler

I love "scrobblers" (or as Paul Lamere calls them "recommender remoras"). I don't have to do anything more than listen to my music and I passively program a very dynamic and powerful representation of myself via my music profiles (e.g., MyStrands, etc).

But, now I've got a problem... my work phone system will forward all of my voicemails as an MP3 to my email inbox. So, what's the problem? Well, now when I listen to them - it launches my default media player, which is hooked into a number of scrobblers, and plays it. The result? Now, you see caller id information in my "just played", "charts" and potentially "top artists" (if the same person calls me a lot). Not only does it screw with the my music experience, it also makes me nervous that I'm going to accidentally publish a list of people that I talk to.

The problem for the services that these scrobblers are connect to? Well, now they are building "artist" pages for all of my co-workers, solicitors and anyone else that leaves me a voicemail.

Now the hard part... how do you solve this? Either the onus is on the consumer to go and close down the scrobbler(s) before they listen or retroactively go and delete the "track" from just played (if the service supports that). Or, the scrobblers need to some how know what is music and what is not. Obviously a much harder problem. For those of you that build these products and services, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Friday, May 04, 2007

No Deal!

The WSJ is now reporting the rumored Microsoft/Yahoo deal is off the table again. But, I still think Rhapster/Napsody should be seriously considered by both parties. Remind me to go and register both of those domain names. :-)

Whoa, I just went to and saw a new site design and the much more promient "Free Napster" offering. When the hell did that happen?

While I was there I figured I'd share one of my favorite songs of the moment from the Kings of Leon:



While music is probably the last of their considerations in this rumored deal, it would certainly change the landscape.

BILL'S HARD DRIVE By PETER LAURIA and ZACHERY KOUWE - Business - New York Post Online Edition:
May 4, 2007 -- "Stung by the loss of Internet advertising firm DoubleClick to Google last month, Microsoft has intensified its pursuit of a deal with Yahoo!, asking the company to re-enter formal negotiations, The Post has learned.

While Microsoft and Yahoo! have held informal deal talks over the years, sources say the latest approach signals an urgency on Microsoft's part that has up until now been lacking.

The new approach follows an offer Microsoft made to acquire Yahoo! a few months ago, sources said. But Yahoo! spurned the advances of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant. Wall Street sources put a roughly $50 billion price tag on Yahoo!. "

If this ever happened think of the mess of trying to reconcile all of the various music groups and products. Just off the top of my head, here is what I can think of that each would bring into a merger/acquistion:

  • Yahoo Music Jukebox(media player)
  • MusicMatch (whatever is left of it)
  • Yahoo Music Unlimited (subscription service)
  • Webjay (playlisting)
  • Yahoo Launhcast (streaming radio)
  • MSN Radio (powered by Pandora)
  • MSN Music
  • Zune Player (media player)
  • Zune Hardware
  • Xbox360 (as media center extender)
  • Windows Media Player (Windows and Mobile)
  • Windows Media DRM
  • PlaysforSure Partners (both subscription service providers like Napster and device manufacturers)

There are probablly virutally dozens of other groups and products that I'm overlooking right now, but what a shakeout that would be. If that happens, then Rhapsody and Napster need to give each other a call and start making wedding plans. Rhapster? Napsody?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Fiql Revisited

I haven't talked about Fiql in a while, and thought it was time. For those that have never checked it out, I highly recommend it. To over simplify, think of it as a place where playlists go to mingle, find their mates, and make babies.

Upload a playlist (data not the assets) from your media player, write a description (make it good if you want to get it called out as a "Fiql Pick"), categorize it, and submit. Fiql will then do the work to match the playlist (or as much of it as it can) to both Napster and Rhapsody. Combine that with Napster's 3-free-plays-per-song trial methodology and now you have a playlist that anyone can listen to (at least 3 times). If you are a Rhapsody subscriber, then you can seamlessly listen to playlists from Fiql - or easily export your playlists from Rhapsody into Fiql. user? Then leverage's webservices to download an XSPF playlist of your Top 50 Played tracks ( to your desktop. Turn around and upload the XSPF file to Fiql, and done. MyStrands user? Even easier, just find a playlist and click "download xspf".

One of the newer additions is that you can also add MP3 URLs for every track in your playlist (click the "link" icon next to the first song and it will run through the MP3s). I created one, check it out:

The beauty of it.... it is completely legal. The artists get paid, the playlisters won't get sued, Fiql makes money from bounties and advertising, and the consumers benefit from a service that acts as a translation layer between playlists - it is media player and media source agnostic. I actually uploaded my Music Now playlists (from Windows Media Player) so I didn't have to go and recreate them in Napster and Rhapsody.

There are lots of other nice (and very slickly designed) features as well... blogs, groups, forums, community/unsigned artist pages, and more.

I have a feeling there is more from where all this came from....

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

AIM Buddy Tunes Plug-In

It's been a quiet week or so, and my apologies. But, I'm back and have something exceedingly cool to share with you guys. Some of the AIM client guys are quietly cranking out some new media sharing plug-ins. Here is one of the first for you to enjoy..

AOL Greenhouse Product Info for AIM Buddy Tunes: "Stream your iTunes music library to your buddies with AIM Buddy Tunes. This plugin for AIM 6 extends iTunes network streaming to your friends on your buddy list, so they can hear what great musical taste you have. Browse songs and playlists and just click play to listen."

I only use iTunes on my Mac (which this plug-in doesn't work for), but I know most of the rest of the world uses iTunes on their Windows machines. To get started make sure you turn on your sharing preference in iTunes. You can do that via the Edit menu in iTunes and choosing Preferences. Select the Sharing tab and make sure "Look for Shared Music" and "Share my library on my local network" are both checked. Download the plugin and run AIM 6.1 or AIM Lite. In the shared list you will see other buddies music libraries who have the plugin installed.

Note: Any Fairplay (DRM) protected content cannot be played unless the remote machine is authorized.

If you like it, hop on over to the developer's blog and let him know what you think.