Saturday, June 30, 2007
The latest addition is a mashup called PandoraStrands. It is a Firefox extension that integrates MyStrands real-time track-level recommendations, community and scrobbling with Pandora. While listening to Pandora, you just click on the little Muzika icon down at the bottom of the Firefox window. Up pops a window that gives surfaces recommended songs based on the one you are currently listening to. You can click on any of the recommendations to get taken to the MyStrands artist/track pages, or directly add one of the recommended songs as a seed to the station you are currently listening to in Pandora. Very slick.
You can also easily launch Napster to listen to any of the recommendations leveraging their freeplay trial. You can also quickly flip to the "Users" tab and see the other MyStrands community members that have recently listened to whatever song is currently playing on your Pandora station.
And of course all of the songs you listen to in Pandora are tracked and added to your MyStrands profile.
I've always felt like Pandora could benefit from some strong community features, and with PandoraStrands users can now get them. I'm guessing at some point this could be rolled into one of their other Firefox extensions that basically acts as a translation layer between many of the music profiling sites and provides you information on your musical similarity/affinity across different networks - for example, you can see how similar you are to someone on MySpace, Last.fm, Bebo or Friendster - even if that MySpace user doesn't have a MyStands profile. Ah, the beauty of open APIs...
UPDATE: As I think about it more, this would be exceedingly cool if integrated with Foxytunes (another favorite of mine). Really complimentary I think. Alex and Francisco... you guys should talk. :-)
Friday, June 29, 2007
This was compiled by Denny Somach from www.classicrockcentral.com.
The punchline was something to the affect of, "Well of course I wouldn't steal a car.
I certainly didn't do the joke justice, but I thought it captured the prevailing public mindset pretty well.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Deadline Hollywood Daily » MySpace Pair Looking To Loot News Corp: "Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson have made a very aggressive (some would term it rather fanciful) compensation proposal to owner News Corp for when their contract is up in October. They're asking Peter Chernin and Rupert Murdoch for a 2-year deal worth $50 million total. That comes out to $25 million each, or $12.5 million a year. Plus, the pair want a development fund of $15 million to invest in internet companies."
Is MySpace in trouble? It sounds to me that both DeWolfe and Anderson have one foot out the door. I think you have to not only be ready to, but expect to, walk out the door to make such a massive demand. I would imagine the thought process to be something like...
"I've had it with this place, let's get out of here before Facebook eats our lunch."
"Well, I'd stay as long as we get paid."
"Hmmm... yeah, for $25million in my pocket I'd be willing to go down with the ship."
"As long as they also pony up some money on top of that so we can find, and inflate, our life raft."
"Good point... let's get another $15 mil each that we can invest in the next thing - whatever that will be."
Don't get me wrong, I don't blame them for this approach... I just find it interesting. Who would run the place if DeWolfe and Anderson leave? I sure as hell hope it wouldn't be some old school TV exec. We are dealing with very fickle consumers where the switching costs from once service/network to another is relatively low - and lowering every day as more of these services expose open APIs. I've got to think someone is working on a simple "import all of my MySpace information" for Facebook as we speak.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The Mossberg Solution - WSJ.com: "We have been testing the iPhone for two weeks, in multiple usage scenarios, in cities across the country. Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer. Its software, especially, sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry, and its clever finger-touch interface, which dispenses with a stylus and most buttons, works well, though it sometimes adds steps to common functions."
Some of the more interesting tidbits:
- He thinks the lack of a physical keyboard is a non-issue - after 5 days he was typing as well on the iPhone as he does on his Treo
- While we knew this first model would only use AT&T's EDGE network (in lieu of their faster 3G network) - but this model will not be upgradable in the future. So, if you want 3G you either need to wait for the next version - or to Steve Jobs' delight - buy one now and another later.
- The lack of any dedicated hardware buttons make some features a few taps farther away then most would like.
- There is no way to cut/copy/paste - it sounds minor but I bet this becomes a big annoyance pretty quickly.
- Battery life is very good.
- The 2 megapixel camera only takes stills - no videos.
- The only streaming media supported is the the newly available H.264 encoded versions of YouTube videos - no streaming audio.
- No (Adobe) Flash support - this is major... all of the web widgets and embeddable players that we have all grown to love won't work in their mobile version of Safari.
On the last issue, I wonder if the lack of Flash support is specifically for the purpose of limiting the ability to stream MP3s from the web - as oppossed to buying them from iTunes. Conspiracy theory? Perhaps, but doesn't it seem like an odd omission to you considering Apple's claims that this is "the real internet" on your phone? If it was the real internet, why won't they support a technology that is installed on something like 98% of consumers' browsers?
Obviously, Yahoo has some new ideas on how they are going to leverage Webjay into the rest of their music offerings. And while the front door of Webjay says they are closed, you can deep link back into the rest of the site - I got to one of my old Webjay playlists here. The version that was surfaced to me had a SHOUTcast station URL in it. It will be interesting to see what's next....
My guess is a new playlist sharing site more deeply integrated into Yahoo music, where they leverage/support XSPF playlists of free-range MP3s and then link them back to Yahoo Music pages to generate incremental page views. Ian?
Monday, June 25, 2007
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While I use a couple of different remote access products to handle the streaming of my content from my home machine to my other devices - namely Winamp Remote (powered by Orb Networks) and Streampad - I thought... "what the hell, I may as well back it up online too. It doesn't cost anything". So, I'll let you know how it goes in a couple of weeks. I've downloaded the Oboe Sync application (on both my Macbook and my home Media Center machine). Most of my music (about 10K unprotected MP3s with a ton of other DRM'd stuff that won't be included) is on the latter. I started the sync 18 hours ago, and according the app... I've only got another 258 hours to go. :-)
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I've turned what was once just a simple feed splicer into a full blown "river of news" feed aggregation network. I'm pulling about six dozen feeds right now - and using Yahoo Pipes to filter some of the feeds to just give me the music/media related posts from some of the more broad sources (e.g. Fred Wilson, TechCrunch, Mashable, etc.).
I've added a custom Google search box (that will search all of me*dia*or's sources), digital music job postings culled from Indeed, an embedded Meebo chat room (with the hope it will spawn real-time dialog among readers) and a Streampad widget that pulls the day's most popular MP3s from The Hype Machine (so you can listen while you read).
There are forums for quick access to on going discussions on particular topics. A secondary flash audio player where users can upload and/or point to MP3s across the web. The photo widget allows members to pull their Flickr photos directly into the network. Ning (one of the platforms used for me*dia*or - with Tumblr being the other) enables direct integration of those players and slideshows back into Facebook.
On my personal me*dia*or profile page, I've pulled in the feed from this blog as well as my Facebook status and Last.fm quilt.
Now the real question... will anyone besides me actually use it?
Friday, June 15, 2007
"To some this may sound crazy, but I sincerely am starting to hate the Internet. I know you see the Internet as some incredible invention that has opened the door to unlimited distribution of music—and your lofty goal is to bring music to as many as possible. But all I see is a tidal wave of artist abuse. And the thought of webcasters emulating the Groskters of the world, and being given a free pass just reinforces my view that the Internet is not becoming a beacon of light, but a cesspool of darkness."
Wow. He should get together with Senator Ted Stevens... between his view of the Internet being a "series of tubes" and Rosenthal's "cesspool", it sounds like we have the makings of a nice sewer system.
I was going to lead into an analogy around indoor plumbing, but on second thought I think I will take another route... As automobiles first started to make there way into the hands of the mass market, there were obviously a huge number of merchants that sold parts for horse-drawn carriages. These businesses had two choices, try to stop the proliferation of cars to protect their current business model, or adapt to the demands and opportunities of the new market.
How many Buggy Whip manufacturers do you know of?
If you are on Facebook you know that music applications are by far some of the most popular 3rd party apps across the network. The poster child for this is iLike who have basically doubled their membership base within the span of about a week after they rolled out their FB app. Also, Numair Faraz's "Audio" application currently can be found on over a half million profiles. The application is little more than a flash player that you give an MP3 url. As more people find and add URLs to free-range MP3s, the larger the index becomes so that others don't have to forage so hard.... you can stumble across a song that someone else has already found and just add it to your profile. There has been no exchange of media assets, just a bookmark. In one recent conversation John Parres captured the issue very succinctly...
I'm not hosting it. Numair's not hosting it. And Facebook is not hosting it. Butgo ahead and click the play button. It will point you to the MP3 file right over.... THERE>
Am I breaking any laws by publishing a search result? Are Numair and the Facebookers breaking any laws collaborating to build an index of publicly knowable URLs?
I, of course, am no lawyer - and don't have a clue whether/how the recording industry will look to stem this tide. But what I do know is that there is a huge trend of new services going this route... Streampad, grabb.it, Project Playlist, Webjay (although Yahoo will shut down this month), MP3Realm. Hell, I can just as easily use Google to find "free-range MP3s", build a XSPF playlist and drop a flash player into my blog. Unlike imeem and others that host the files, these (to your point) are just a bunch of pointers to locations all over the web.
If this approach gets locked down, then others will pop up. It would be just as easy (if not easier) to create an audio experience out of the freely available (and often times licensed) music videos on YouTube and others. Personally, I am not a music video watcher, but I would gladly leverage the audio track from them to build a free, legal (?), personalized playlist (or is it a station?). Who is liable then?
The damn has more leaks than the industry has fingers. Time to stop wasting time trying to plug the holes - and instead spend that energy on developing ways to leverage the power of the current.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Music download service for cell phones to launch in Europe - Yahoo! News: "British firm Omnifone said it had signed content deals with the four biggest music groups in the industry and had agreements with 30 mobile operators in a bid to steal the thunder of the much-hyped iPhone made by iPod maker Apple.
The service called MusicStation will be suitable for 75 percent of mobile handsets already available in the market and will launch first in Sweden on Thursday with Scandinavian operator Telenor."
I am a fan of the model that Omnifone is selling. Check out my coverage from a couple months ago (including their promotional/demo video): http://globallistic.blogspot.com/2007/02/mobile-music-all-you-can-eat-from.html
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
iPhone comes with it's own desktop email application (to compete with Outlook, Thunderbird, Entourage)Sorry, I misread it the first time - it is "desktop-class" email application.
- iPhone requires iTunes (and uses it to sync not only media, but contacts and calendar entries as well).
iPhone arrives on June 29. iPhone features an amazing mobile phone, is the best iPod we've ever created, and puts the Internet in your pocket with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching, and maps. And iPhone makes it all easy to use with its revolutionary multi-touch user interface. iPhone syncs with your PC or Mac just like an iPod, so organizing your content now will help you start calling, texting, emailing, surfing, listening, and watching even faster when you get your iPhone. Here are a few suggestions to help you get ready:
Making a call with iPhone is as simple as tapping a name. You won't need to re-enter all your contacts because iPhone syncs with the address book you already use on your computer—Address Book or Entourage on a Mac, or Outlook or Outlook Express on a PC. If you keep your contacts on the web using Yahoo! Address Book, iPhone can sync with them, too. To get ready for iPhone, organize your contacts in one of these applications and make sure they're up to date with the latest phone numbers and email addresses. If you don't have contacts on your computer, don't worry. You can still enter them directly into iPhone.
Using its built-in calendar, iPhone lets you check your appointments with the flick of a finger. iPhone uses iTunes to sync with the calendar application you already use on your computer—iCal or Entourage on the Mac, or Outlook on a PC—just like it does with your contacts. If you don't already use one of these applications to manage your appointments, now is a great time to start, so you'll be ready to sync when your iPhone arrives. If you choose not to use a calendar program, that's OK. You'll be able to enter appointments directly into the iPhone calendar.
iPhone is the first phone to come with a desktop-class email application. So now your phone can display rich HTML email with graphics and photos alongside the text. iPhone will even fetch your latest email every time you open the application and automatically retrieve your email on a set schedule, just like a computer does. iPhone works with the most popular email systems—including Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, AOL, and .Mac Mail. If you're not already using one of these services, now would be a great time to get an account. iTunes will make email setup on iPhone a breeze by automatically syncing the settings from email accounts stored in Mail on a Mac or Outlook on a PC. Don't worry if you're not on one of these email services; iPhone also works with almost any industry-standard POP3 and IMAP email system.
iPhone has a 2-megapixel camera and a gorgeous 3.5-inch display, so it's a great way to enjoy and show off your digital photos. iPhone uses iTunes to sync your photos from iPhoto on a Mac or Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop Album, or any picture folder on a PC. You can carry thousands of photos on iPhone, but you can start by creating an album or two with 50 to 100 of your favorite photos, so that when you first sync your iPhone, you'll be ready to quickly show off some of your best shots.
iPhone is the best iPod ever. Its beautiful, 3.5-inch widescreen display allows you to easily enjoy the music, TV shows, and movies you have in your iTunes library. If you already use iTunes, you can start getting ready for iPhone by creating a playlist of a few hundred of your favorite songs. If you don't have iTunes, now is a good time to download it and start a music and video library. That way, when you sync your iPhone with iTunes, you'll be able to take your favorite music, as well as a few of your TV shows and movies, with you wherever you go.
To set up your iPhone, you'll need an account with Apple's iTunes Store. If you already have an iTunes account, make sure you know your account name and password. If you don't have an account, you should set one up now to save time later. To set up an account, launch iTunes, select the iTunes Store, and click the Sign In button in the upper right corner of iTunes. Sign in and you're ready to go.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
After reading the predictions from both Rags Gupta and Hypebot on what they think will shakeout in the digital music space in 2007, I thought I'd throw some more of my thoughts out as well - in short, 2007 is going to be the year of the acquistion. In no particular order...
- eMusic gets acquired - either by Microsoft or Amazon
On second thought: Not happening.
- Last.fm gets acquired - smart money is on Google, but if Real was able to dig up enough of their settlement cash from Microsoft, then a Last.fm/Rhapsody combination is an extremely compelling service
On second thought: Right idea, wrong suitor. In my defense, I don't think anyone saw CBS coming out of left-field.
- Pandora gets acquired - gotta think this is Microsoft considering they have already partnered with them for the MSN Radio relaunch
On second thought: Could still happen. Particularly, all of the suitors that lost out on Last.fm may be looking for a contingency plan that Pandora may fulfill very well. We shall see....
- Mercora gets sued - the labels will need to make an example of someone that they think is violating DMCA, and Mercora looks like a great target
On second thought: A partnership with Microsoft (for distribution of their Windows Mobile client) makes it appear that established players are more comfortable pushing the boundaries with partnerships and features. I heard through the rumor mill that Mercora moved to Canada to help reduce the risk of getting sued here (they claim to be in full compliance with Canada's copyright laws) - I can't confirm this in my limited research, but interesting nonetheless.
- SpiralFrog launches with a thud - the ad supported model may eventually work for downloads, but I don't think SpiralFrog will be the ones to pull it off
On second thought: What have you heard? Exactly. This one was not a stretch, but seems on the money so far.
- Zune slowly starts to make inroads - this is the equivalent of Microsoft Windows Mobile (CE) vs. Palm OS battle of last decade.... MS will spend enough time and effort to make this work for them
On second thought: Is it a million sold now? Embarrassment aside that they announced they sold a million, then corrected themselves a couple of days later - this is still so strategically important to Microsoft that they will continue to pump big money into it, and continue to find ways to tie it to the Xbox360. Until Apple gets a gaming platform, this is Microsoft's biggest opportunity (Sony has proven themselves completely inept at creating a compelling mobile device since creating the category with the original walkman decades ago).
- Apple iTV will get lukewarm response - remember the Mac Mini? It was supposed to be perfect for this application as well...
On second thought: Jobs recently categorized Apple TV as a "hobby". 'Nuf said.
Looks like I'm hitting about .500?
Friday, June 08, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Real Men Worship Loud Music / Like your songs wailing? Your vocals smokin'? Your cocktails potent? Try a listening party: "Everyone brings a specially burned CD or custom iPod mix (carefully considered and chosen beforehand) and everyone brings either something outstanding to drink or something exceptional to smoke or something rather deliciously unhealthy to eat. The latter is usually gourmet pizza. The former is usually fine rum, scotch, wine or beer. The middle one is usually illegal.
Someone has a very good stereo. Someone has a very good stereo with outstanding audiophile-grade speakers that, when played at high volume, will shake the walls and rattle the windows and peel back your skin without getting all fuzzy and distorted and annoying, loud enough that the sound they produce will easily prevent all discussion until the given song has ended and everyone can breathe again and grab another drink and say, Wow, what the hell was that? (This someone, obviously, also has very understanding neighbors.)"
"Weedshare has suspended operations
Unfortunately, due to compatibility problems with recently released media players, the Weedshare service is no longer available.
You can still play Weed files you have bought, but it is not possible to preview or buy new Weed files. We recommend that you save Weed files you’ve purchased to CD so you will have permanent copies."
Digging some more, it sounds like they are trying to change their model and approach to ween themselves off of Microsoft...
However, Microsoft's security improvements in Microsoft to WMP 11 read files as having been illegally tampered with and refuses to play them.
John Beezer, Shared Media president, told The Register his company called time on WMP after spending six weeks trying to fix the problem. Shared Media rectified a similar issue in Windows Vista using a documented Active X fix.
"We are moving away from Microsoft because of the cost and frustration," Beezer said.
Shared Media will resurrect its service during the next six months with an offering less reliant on Microsoft. A service is planned for MP3, Flash, Open Mobile Alliance DRM version 2.0 and Microsoft's newly announced PlayReady format. "We are repurposing the system," Beezer said.
Lala.com to send songs directly to iPods - Yahoo! News: "PALO ALTO, Calif. - Entrepreneurs behind Silicon Valley startup Lala.com hope to transform the CD-swapping site into a music portal where members can download songs directly to their iPods, bypassing the computer hard drives where most music is stored.
The Palo Alto-based company has an agreement in principle to sell nearly 200,000 songs from Warner Music Group Corp. for 99 cents each, starting Tuesday. Members will also be able to play the Warner songs for free, and the company will pay Warner a penny each time someone listens to a song."
Interesting that they are populating your online library from the back-end (instead of you uploading) - this was something that was offered by MyPlay back in the '99 and they got sued for it. Part of the pitch to the labels (I’m assuming) is that the DRM-free AACs never reside on your hard drive. Sound like through a browser plug-in it goes from the cloud directly to your iPod (never going through iTunes). Not hard to copy stuff back off your ipod to a PC, but just a bit of a hassle.
Monday, June 04, 2007
blog.pmarca.com: "Internet radio: AOL Radio -- I know, I know, but little known fact: AOL Radio gives you a good selection of commercial-free XM satellite ratio stations with high quality sound, and you don't need an XM subscription. Including the essential XM channel 40, Deep Tracks. (Where else can you hear the Electric Prunes, Molly Hatchet, and Ultimate Spinach in the same night?)"
I agree, it's a slick little app with some killer programming (my favorites are in the sidebar). It's free for all (you get more XM stations if you are still a paying AOL subscriber) and you can get it from www.aolradio.com.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Saturday, June 02, 2007
"peHUB has learned that San Diego-based Slacker recently raised $40 million in Series B funding, which comes on top of a $14.5 million Series A round announced earlier this year. Centennial Ventures and Rho Ventures came aboard as new investors, while returnees included Austin Ventures, Mission Ventures and Sevin Rosen Funds."
I just wish they weren't trying to do so much.... radio service, media player application, portable hardware device, satellite network infrastructure. It feels analogous to a start-up that has created a new type of car, that runs on a new type of fuel, that also requires them to build out a network of filling stations around the world. In the end, this news story may have it right... $53.5 million dollars invested so far may not be enough.
Personally, I will just bide my time for 3G and/or citywide Wi-Fi networks to enable me perpetual access to all the media (from all the sources) I want...