Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Qloud's New Silver Lining

The guys over at Qloud have been quite busy lately. They are currently in a closed beta of a totally revamped service and experience. What started of as "people powered search" - which combined scrobbling with 30 second samples - has morphed into "free/legal streaming music on demand". Yes, there are hundreds of sites where you can create playlists from uploaded/free-range MP3s (with the two most popular currently being imeem and Project Playlist), but these services operate in a bit of a legally "gray" area as the content these service run on are generally not licensed.

So, how do you create "free and legal" streaming music on demand? You leverage content that has been licensed and that the rights holders are being compensated for... specifically YouTube. Yes, there has been a bunch of swirl over the past few months on this topic too... but generally speaking the major labels have come to terms where the use of music videos on YouTube are being compensated. And by the nature of YouTube, these videos are freely distributable/embeddable. This is not the first time a company has done this, but Qloud's implementation may indeed be the most complete.

Basically, the service is comprised of:
  • iTunes Plug-In (for awareness of your media library and playlists)
  • A Web Player Destination
  • Community

By matching your local library and playlists to YouTube's available videos (and others like Revver), you now have an online representation of your content that you can play, build playlists out of and generally share among the entire community of Qloud users.

You can also browse Qloud's "cloud" and see what the most popular tracks are, navigate by tag, search or find other users and take a peek at their libraries.

The drawbacks? Well, you guys know YouTube.... some of the songs are crappy recordings of a live show taken with a cellphone. Qloud combats this by matching to other versions of the song (and other sources in addition to YouTube - including what appears to be pending support for Rhapsody). Over time, the most popular version of the song will rise to the top.... but right now they are suffering from a bit of a cold-start problem in this beta.

But, the good news is that you guys are now invited to join the beta. The guys have been nice enough to provide me with the ability to offer all my readers the ability to join. Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.

Finally, the guys showed me a sneak peak at a couple new Facebook apps they are working on. I can't say too much about them, other than they are pretty sweet, and may be able to give the iLike guys a run for their money on that platform.

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