Since I started working as a contractor (I prefer this term to ‘consultant’) I have been making an effort to spend more time on observing, analysing and understanding all the digital music services out there. I really want find those websites and applications that are not only exciting and disrupting but also user-friendly and actually useful.
One area that is highly interesting from my point of view are ‘music delivery services’. That’s what I call sites and services that can deliver recorded music to me, may as be as a permanent download or as a stream. Also, looking from it from an North American angle, I wanted to see what is happening on this side of the world. As I posted before, unfortunately most of the excitement in terms of digital music is not happening in Canada so my Ace VPN account came in very handy when I needed to pretend to the in the US to access the American services.
Even though there are a lot of new on-demand streaming services starting right now it seems like almost none of them are actually doing anything differently: many of them are web-based and offer mobile apps, cost $10 per months with a three day free trial, and you can stream as many tracks as you want on-demand. I understand that most of those features and mechanisms are actually dictated by the record labels which is a sad development: having ‘suppliers’ decide on business models will never encourage innovation and creativity which is what the industry needs more than anything.
If exciting, disrupting, user-friendly and useful are the criteria then I really want to mention three ‘music delivery services’ in this post:
I’m not going to pretent that I fully understand what Playdar could do but I love what I can see so far. They call it a ‘Music Content Resolver’ which means that Playdar is a technology that can find music for you, may it be on your computer, your local network or on other music services.
The key is that Playdar is an open-source technology and anyone can either use Playdar to find and stream music within their application or build plug-ins so Playdar can find music in new places. Playdar is neither useful or user-friendly at this point but Richard Jones (Last.fm co-founder and one of the guys who started Playdar) told me that there should be a desktop application soon.
I love mp3 blogs and there are a quite a few I’d like to check on a regular basis. Call me lazy but I just can’t check 20+ sites every week to see if there is anything new on there that I might like. Also, I will have to download it all and add it to my iTunes. Oh, and of course having to listen to it as well.
ExtensionFM is a great solution for this. It’s a Chrome plug-in that automatically adds mp3s that are available from websites you select to your ExtensionFM library. It then checks on a regular basis if there are new mp3s available from these sites and you can listen to then straight in your browser. Just like the HypeMachine it does not allow you to download the tracks but you can go to the actual mp3 blogs later and download the mp3 from there.
ExtensionFM does something similar to Peel which I have written about on here before. What I like about ExtensionFM is that it’s all happening in the ‘cloud’ and there is no need for me to download anything. I’m desperately trying to move away from having any files on my computer and this is another step toward my cloud based entertainment world.
ExtensionFM is certainly a disrupting concept; record labels as well as mp3 blogs will potentially not agree with the way ExtensionFM finds content and streams it.
I will not write a blog post about Spotify, there are enough out there. We can’t really call Spotify exciting any more but it’s the most useful and user-friendly music services out there; I now use it almost exclusively for my music consumption needs. A UK credit card and £10 per month make it possible. If you have access to those two things then you should subscribe to Spotify right now.