All posts tagged ‘Music’

The ‘Internet Underground Music Archive’ Rides Again

The origins of the online music revolution are back, thanks to internet archivist extraordinaire Jason Scott. Scott, who works for the internet preservation group Archive.org, has resurrected the Internet Underground Music Archive, or IUMA as the kids called it back in 1992, when they were uploading songs via Gopher.

Started at the University of California at Santa Cruz by Jeff Patterson, Jon Luini and Rob Lord, the IUMA’s goal was to create an online music archive for unsigned musicians and bands. The idea was simple: Bands uploaded files and sent them out to fans over Usenet or e-mail. And just like that, the internet music revolution was born.

The IUMA site eventually came to host thousands of bands and hundreds of thousands of songs, many in MP2 and other long-since-abandoned audio formats.

Like so many other sites of that era, IUMA was eventually sold off during the dot-com boom years to a series of clueless owners who let the site die a slow death of neglect until it was shut down completely in 2006 (hmm, why does that sound so familiar?). Fortunately John Gilmore — perhaps best known for helping to start the Electronic Frontier Foundation — had the foresight to grab a copy of the site shortly before it disappeared.

Now Scott has used Gilmore’s tape archives to resurrect the IUMA site. As Scott says, “you are in for a treat and a hell of a lot of modern musical history just got saved.” The rescued archive doesn’t have everything that ever appeared on IUMA, but it does resurrect some 25,000 bands and artists and over 680,000 tracks of music. That’s 243 days worth of music for those of you more accustomed to iTunes than IUMA.

Scott says this resurrected version of IUMA should be “considered 1.0” and has promised to make sure the original data is “stored safely away so the next set of folks can try better techniques to get it back.”

File Under: APIs, Multimedia, Social

Could MySpace’s New Real Time Stream Lead to Better Music Sharing?

MySpace has thrown open its doors to app developers, giving them real time access to all MySpace users’ activities via a new suite of APIs.

Now, every time Jenny friends somebody, posts a photo or writes a blog post, you’ll be able to make that notification show up in your app mere seconds after it happens.

The company announced the new Real Time Stream API, along with two other social APIs, Wednesday morning at the Le Web conference in Paris, France. It posted all the details on its developer website and kicked off a contest to see who can create the best apps. The new APIs offer access to every MySpace user’s stream in real time. MySpace publishes its user activities using the ActivityStrea.ms format, and it’s using PubSubHubbub to push the streams out in real time.

Wednesday’s announcement comes during a big week for MySpace. Only a day before, the company completed its acquisition of iMeem, the music sharing service, which also published ActivityStrea.ms data about its users’ actions. It also comes the same day that Facebook announced it was making status updates from its users publicly available to the web at large — previously, the default setting was to only publish status updates to Facebook’s own platform or approved Facebook apps. The new APIs at MySpace will allow its developers to post users’ updates with the same frequency as Facebook and other services.

So, what’s going to happen next?

MySpace has long been eclipsed by Facebook as the hottest social network for individuals, but bands and musicians of all levels remain incredibly active on MySpace. Lots of musicians don’t even have a website anymore, they just have a MySpace page, and maybe a Twitter account. A handful of major clubs in every city book all of their shows using MySpace. If you’re in a band, you pretty much have to be on MySpace — like it or not. It’s one of the key web tools driving the music industry right now.

However, one big thing missing from MySpace’s music experience (well, one of the big things) is the ability for people to easily share a song they like. When an artist uploads a song, their status update provides a link to that song. But for fans, all music sharing happens through playlists, which are clunky.

If you are listening to a song and you want to tell all your friends about it, you add it to your profile playlist. That action shows up in your stream, and the song shows up in the player widget on your MySpace profile, (Here’s what it looks like). It’s only there as long as you decide to keep it there, and since MySpace only get 10 songs at a time, if you’re an avid music lover, chances are it won’t be there for longer than a day or a few hours.

Compare this to other popular music sharing services, like LaLa, Mog, Last.fm and iMeem, or even smaller ones like TheSixtyOne, and you’ll notice that it’s much easier for users to send a Facebook update or a Tweet about a particular song they like (and as many songs as they like) complete with a short link leading back to the page where their friends can listen to the song right away. They don’t have to deal with playlists or anything similar, they just share a link to that song.

It’s an elegant and direct way to spread music, which is why it’s become the standard for song sharing on every social network except for MySpace.

This open sharing, along with direct short URL links, is one of the most powerful forces for artist exposure, and for fans to express enthusiasm, driving the music business. For evidence of this, see Ted Greenwald’s post on our Epicenter blog, “Geeks to Music Industry: APIs Can Set You Free

,” about how open song sharing is changing the way people engage with and encounter new music.

MySpace’s music sharing system works, but it feels backwards and weird when compared to the rest of these tools. But with the purchase of iMeem and with the launch of these new APIs, we’ll probably see some positive changes quickly.

For MySpace’s sake, we hope so. The only reason for most of us to visit MySpace these days is to interact with bands. So, anything at all that makes it easier for users to like, link to and comment on songs, and to publish those activities out onto the web in real time would be a boon for the old beast of a social network.

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Songbird Media Player Gearing Up for 1.0 Release

songbirdSongbird, the media player that’s one part iTunes, one part Firefox, is nearly ready to release its long-awaited version 1.0. The Songbird blog reports that 1.0 should arrive in about a month.

It’s worth noting that the timeframe is “approximate,” but even adding a bit of time for unexpected delays, we’re still very likely to see 1.0 before the end of the year.

That should good news for those of you fed up with iTunes and other media players (most of which are essentially the same as they were 7-8 years ago, Amarok being one notable exception).

Among the goals for the 1.0 release are:

  • Reduced RAM Usage
  • Reduced Startup Times
  • Faster Media Importing
  • Faster Search
  • GStreamer Media Cores on all platforms

There’s no official release date yet, but we’ll keep you posted. If you’re unfamiliar with Songbird, be sure to check out our previous coverage for an overview of what the app does and why you might like it better than iTunes and others.

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Behind the Scenes of The Demise of Muxtape

muxtape logoWell, it’s official, Muxtape as you know it is dead. The wildly popular mix tape sharing service has fallen victim to the RIAA/music label’s desire to maintain a stranglehold on music distribution. Although no lawsuit was every formally filed, the threat of one was enough to convince Muxtape’s founder Justin Ouellette to shut the service down.

Muxtape will be reborn as a music sharing site for indie bands — kind of a MySpace music without the MySpace. And of course Favtape recently relaunched as a Muxtape replacement, so if you’re looking for the functionality of Muxtape, we’d suggest giving the new Favtape a try.

But while there may be alternatives to Muxtape, the story of its demise is depressing news for music fans. Contrary to popular opinion, Muxtape did not survive for as long as it did because it flew below the RIAA’s radar, in fact the RIAA and several labels contacted Ouellette within a week of Muxtape’s launch. The story goes downhill from there:

Around the same time I got a call from the VP of anti-piracy at one of the majors. After I picked up the phone his first words were, “Justin, I just have one question for you: where do I send the summons and complaint?”

Despite some shaking beginnings Ouellette managed to keep things going and felt that Muxtape had value (as it obviously did) and even the labels agreed, at least privately.

I always told myself I’d remove any artist or label that contacted me and objected, no questions asked. Not a single one ever did. On the contrary, every artist I heard from was a fan of the site and excited about its possibilities. I got calls from the marketing departments of big labels whose corporate parents were supposed to be outraged, wanting to know how they get could their latest acts on the home page. Smaller labels wanted to feature their content in other creative ways.

But of course bands are not their own masters and market departments don’t run the labels. Eventually the middlemen (henchmen? Record labels? Semantics really) stepped in. Ouellette tentatively agreed to some licensing deals, but the record companies kept coming back with additional requirements and restrictions.

The first red flag came in August. Up until then all the discussion had been about numbers, but as we closed in on an agreement the talk shifted to things like guaranteed placement and “marketing opportunities.” I was denied the possibility of releasing a mobile version of Muxtape. My flexibility was being constricted.

In the end Ouellette shut the service down because the RIAA filed a complaint with Amazon (AWS was hosting the site and its files). “Over the next week I learned a little more, mainly that the RIAA moves quite autonomously from their label parents and that the understanding I had with them didn’t necessarily carry over,” he writes.

Frustrated, Ouellette walked away from the tangled mess of licensing deals and decided to shutdown Muxtape as we knew it.

And so it goes.

Of course we’re hoping that the reborn version of Muxtape catches on with independent musicians and bands, and with Favtape offering features somewhat like Muxtape, maybe users can take their cake back from the RIAA. And eat it too.

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File Under: Multimedia

Favtape Reborn as a Muxtape Replacement

favtapeFavtape, one of our favorite ways to build online playlists, has relaunched with a host of new features that mean the site is no longer exclusively tied to Pandora and last.fm playlists. I fact, the revamped Favtape is now a worthy replacement for the still-on-RIAA-compelled-hiatus, Muxtape.

When we looked at Favtape earlier this year, its features were somewhat limited — the idea was to provide a very simple way of getting on-demand access to your Pandora and last.fm playlists. But since then the popular Muxtape was forced to shutdown and, sensing an opportunity, Favtape has expanded to embrace many of Muxtape’s features.

Most notably, Favtape now offers accounts, which are free and allow you to create mixes using any song, rather than old method, which imported your data from Pandora or last.fm. Along with the new accounts come the ability to re-order of your playlists — an obvious feature that should have been available from the beginning.

Other new features include a host of links below each song in your playlist. — you’ll now have one-click access to lyrics, music videos and album art. Those looking to post their playlists elsewhere will be happy to know that there’s now an embeddable player available.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — Favtape has turned into Muxtape, which means surely, it too will be shut down.

Perhaps, but Favtape is different in one very important way — it doesn’t host any of the song files on its own site. Instead Favtape leverages the Seeqpod API to stream music. Seeqpod in turn is only indexing files already available on the web.

Of course that doesn’t mean the files are infringement-free, it just means that there’s no big target for the RIAA to go after.

Hopefully that means the recording industry won’t turn their sights on Favtape, but of course you never know, so enjoy it while you can.

[via Lifehacker]

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