Back in May, Señor Bell wrote about the new RealPlayer, which promised users the ability to download video in a variety of formats (Flash, WMV, Quicktime) from a variety of sites (YouTube, Comedy Central, and so on) using a variety of Web browsers. Somewhat unsurprisingly, I've gotten a variety of results. RealPlayer is fresh out of beta (download Version 11 for Windows from Download.com)--the perfect time to put it to the test, in my book. Personally, I don't find the latest version particularly useful for my video tastes, but you may find it compelling, … Read more
While the battle to access your music and video files on the go continues both of the software front with services like Qloud, Orb and Simplify Media, there's also the hardware side of things with placeshifting technology from Sling Media, SanDisk and others. Ultimately people want a really simple way to enjoy their stuff elsewhere with a soft or Webware experience that's easy to use.
rVibe is an interesting piece of Windows software that opened up its doors to the public last month. It's half jukebox, half social music marketplace that's taken a new approach to music pricing and sharing by giving users a sizable array of songs that can be both streamed and downloaded using two different price points. While the music comes from a combination of sources, the actual transfer of the songs is handled via p2p in a similar fashion to Napster in the days or yore.
Streaming a song will cost you $.03 a pop, while downloading an entire copy (sans-DRM and at a audiophile-friendly 320 kbps) runs $.99. RVibe has a built-in recommendation service that lets you suggest a track you've purchased to one of your friends. If they end up buying it, you get $.05 back, which can either be spent on more music or donated to charity. It's also worth noting that every time you pay for a streamed song, it will reduce the price of purchasing the track by subtracting the price of a streaming session, all the way down to $.78 a track (or seven streamed plays). While there's a preview portion of the service called "auditions" I wouldn't mind seeing a super low cost streaming option in other popular online music stores to avoid purchasing songs with deceptively good preview clips.
Today they're launching "rVibe Anywhere" which is their personal streaming component. Assuming you've got a copy of rVibe running on the machine with your music library, you can get full access to all your tracks, along with the capability to share any purchased songs with others with an embeddable player widget. While the incredibly popular iTunes software from Apple can accomplish similar feats locally (and across the Web by fooling it with plug-ins), rVibe's solution is a little more extensible from the get go when it comes to making music sharing a social experience. Despite Apple launching their own set of Widgets earlier this year, clicking on a song still requires firing up iTunes, which everyone might not have.
Social.fm (formerly Mercora) has a new music sharing widget for social networking users that's got a few tricks up its sleeve. For one thing, it'll scour your profile (on the Facebook version) to figure out your musical tastes, and then do its best to serve up a playlist of those same artists, or others that have been clumped in the same playlists by Social.FM's DJs. The great hope is that the player will adapt to your changing tastes.
Like Qloud's solution, which I took a look at earlier this month, the widget goes hand-in-hand with a desktop application that will link up to your library and do the same thing with your entire music collection. The weakness therein is the widget's UI, which borrows from Apple's CoverFlow sans actual player controls save a large stop button. While this works okay for a few songs, like the inherent weakness of CoverFlow as a navigation medium, the system falls apart if you're actually trying to browse a large music collection or use the right side of your brain for finding artists, albums, or genres.
One thing Social.FM does really well (as it should) is serve up good music. There are some high-quality tracks on here, and a lot of it is surprisingly not just run-of-the-mill studio cuts, but radio appearances or professionally recorded live performances. One of my big beefs with Qloud was that the entirety of the content was coming from YouTube, and there was no way to really dig in to try to get better versions of a song. Facebook users get the added benefit of being able to share their listening habits with others, as listening to a track will publish to your mini feed, and music your friends are listening to will show up in the main news feed if they've got the app installed.
Social.FM is serving up two versions of the widget, one that's a Facebook app, and another that you can plug into any social networking service or site that can handle Adobe Flash embeds, like MySpace, Friendster, and Xanga. You can also stick it on your blog or Web site, which I've done after the break. The company tells me they're working on integrating better with Google's OpenSocial initiative to make their non-Facebook version a little more robust. They're also working on adding a recommendation feature that will let you share a song you're listening to with any user, similar to what some of the other Facebook music apps have done.
Rick Rubin is obviously a guru--just look at the beard! But seriously, this is the guy who oversaw the crossover that took hip-hop to mainstream America (Run DMC, meet Aerosmith; world, meet the Beastie Boys), introduced Johnny Cash to indie-rock hipsters, and produced Danzig, Slayer, and...um...the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Nobody bats 1.000.)
This week's New York Times Magazine has alengthy article on Sony/Columbia hiring Rick Rubin to help turn the label around. The whole article's an interesting read, but one point that stuck out to me: Mr. Rubin is a big proponent of the celestial jukebox. … Read more
MediaMaster is one of many companies worth keeping an eye on, mainly for the potential of having your entire music library available anywhere you go, as long as you've got an Internet connection. Their Facebook app, which went live just a few weeks ago, is a prime example of a great use of the service.
The app lets you set up a huge playlist of music, and serve it up right on your profile in a miniplayer. Anyone who comes by your profile can then get the full quality versions of the tracks streamed in whatever order you set … Read more
As we continue this week's summertime outdoor entertainment theme, today we turn our attention to the ever-popular waterproof MP3 speaker. Yes, we've featured poolside models before, but for some reason they've often resembled ice buckets.
Net Japan's waterproof "Juke Tower MP3 Speaker," however, is as sleek and small as a shampoo bottle (see photo) at just over 7 inches tall--which GeekSugar says makes it perfectly manageable for the shower as well as the patio. The $129 wireless speaker, which stores up to 2GB of tunes on a detachable USB drive, runs on three AA … Read more
Mog, the music recommendation tool and social network left beta this morning and launched a new video channel called Mog TV. The video service scans your music library and offers YouTube music videos that it thinks you'll like. There's also a kitschy feature called "The Magic Button" that can randomly bring up content related to your musical tastes. The button has been placed site-wide, and can be found on user profiles, Mog TV, and artist pages. The only bummer here is the need to install the Mog-o-matic software on your machine for access to personalized recommendations, … Read more
MediaMaster is a Web-based jukebox service that launched last week. MediaMaster gives users free storage space to upload their tunes and listen to them anywhere they have Internet access. The interface is clean, simple, and intuitive--if you're used to iTunes or Windows Media Player you'll feel right at home. Users can upload their tunes with two uploaders, a simple one for a few tracks and an advanced version that lets you simply drag and drop files from file folders right into the uploader.
Once your tracks are uploaded, you can create and manage playlists, rate individual songs, and … Read more
Given our slothful nature, we miss those individual jukebox controls that used to adorn booths at diners and other fine restaurants we frequent. At most places now, you have to get up and walk at least 10 feet to drop a couple of quarters in the slot. Irritating.
The French understand this, and they've responded with an innovative solution in the form of an SMS Jukebox. Orange France is testing a service that lets patrons send a text message to the jukebox without leaving their seats. Red Ferret says the designated song would then be played in seconds, but … Read more