Originally uploaded by jherskowitz
AOL Music launched their new Song pages this week (part of a rolling relaunch of the site), and I applaud the direction they are going lately (disregarding the overzealous ads I talked about a couple of weeks ago).
The legal mucketymucks over there have been slowly loosening their collars a bit and letting the product folks actually compete with the smaller players who don't ask permission, but rather forgiveness. First was the AIMtunes plug-in earlier this fall - which, to be honest, I was shocked that Legal let them launch. Now comes the new AOL Music song pages/player which includes a stay of execution for the once great - now on respiratory - AOL search property of SingingFish.
Basically, when you search for a song at AOL Music they first try to fulfill that request with a licensed/promotional copy of the song that they have secured from the labels. The new piece of the puzzle is that if they don't have it, they will present you a list of free-range MP3 search results. Those results are presented with a white play icon (versus blue icon of the AOL catalog songs)... click on it and it presents a list of possible matches that you can select and play.
They also do a nice job of merging the two sources.
Both official content and free-range MP3s are played back in the same pop-up player, and the assets can be mixed in the queue.
Next they need to be able to let users create a mixed playlist that they can embed and share... but I'm sure that is coming.
Shoutouts to Georgina, Grant and Dan.
The downside? The SingingFish fish ship basically has no captain. It used to be great but there is no one steering the ship anymore. AOL should reinvest in this (or similar) platform because right now too many songs are presented as being "found" but the links are dead. Let's hope they do... otherwise there is always Skreemr, Seeqpod and MP3Realm.
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