Thursday, September 14, 2006

Virtual jukeboxes

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The web is currently abuzz with talk of an evolving breed of push-button, 'two-dot-oh' services that allow you to name a tune and have it streamed to your computer instantaneously and for free (as opposed to those that feed you music deemed similar to the bands or artists you type in). This is predominantly thanks to the people behind BlogMusik, a new French outfit who have adopted the concept and slapped a cutesy iPod-like, Flash interface on top to get the fad-followers salivating.

BlogMusik draws its content from Radio Blog Club, which in turn taps into music uploaded by bloggers. Every genre of music is catered for, some of it belonging to multi-platinum selling artists and some the work of unknowns.

Common sense would suggest that unless the copyright holders of this material are receiving royalties from BlogMusik et al, they are likely to be breaking the law and will soon be squished into oblivion by music industry watchdogs. If this is true, the case against them must be progressing treacle-treadingly slowly because similar well-established startups such as Streampad, Fine Tune, Webjay and The Hype Machine look pretty healthy to me. Maybe the limitations imposed by the streaming protocol serve to bolster their legitimacy? I don't buy the, "it's hosted in France so anything goes" tack. Could it be that such technology is considered less of a threat to the music industry because people will still want to own physical discs, or at least digital files which can be transferred to any device and played anywhere?

While it is possible to rip the music you listen to through BlogMusik (you only have to search your computer's internet cache for .rbs files and rename them to .mp3) it remains to be seen if anyone will be inclined to do so considering the low bitrate of the music files made available.

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