Fuzz Wants to be Online Radio by the People, for the People

You know somewhere between Pandora’s steady, old reliable model, Spotify’s have it all, take it anywhere incredible features, and various other stations like SHOUTcast covering some of the most obscure music out there, I guess I once felt content saying that the world of internet radio is pretty well covered.

And yet it seems like there is at least one more site out there that thinks that there is still fresh ground to tread in that particular field by catering to this wild idea that instead of a computer algorithm generating music selection, perhaps it would be preferable for human beings to take a stab at it.

That site is called Fuzz and, if you let them, they’d very much like to rock/rap/alternative/classical your world.

How? Well the entire site is made up of user created stations. Members can upload their personal music and create a radio station set to a theme of the music selection, with the built in system mixing the music together for you. Examples include the standards like classic rock or 90’s hip hop, but a quick search reveals more specific stations like classical dinner music or trendy sushi bar.  A band search option is available to get you started, but the general idea is to start with music you are familiar with, and expand your interests, and favorite playlists, based on people who like those same bands or songs other available selections. It’s an idea that is automatically handled by computers on other sites, but Fuzz treats it much more like each user is the DJ to their own mix, complete with custom station names, backdrops, and comment and feedback features.

The creator of the site, Jeff Yasuda, has tooled around the internet radio scene for a while, and he and his team simply feel that it is more fun, and rewarding, for people to share music with people and not machines. It’s an idea that was encouraged by Yasuda’s other music app Blip.Fm, which allows people to play the music they’re listening to via Twitter and Facebook. The quiet success of that app has instilled Yasuda with the belief that a site that expands that idea into a full radio station could be a hit. Although, he is certainly aware of the long shot that any internet station is, as he reveals via a cryptic quote in an interview with Bloomberg.com when speaking of the internet radio industry:

“The space is crowded and the graveyard is long, deep and wide,”

So how is the site? While I’m personally still inclined to default to Spotify or Pandora for a kickback and let it play listening experience, Fuzz is infinitely more entertaining to just explore, whether it be for new music, or just to see what obscure and awesome stations people dream up. Though the battle for success, much less supremacy, is one that hasn’t even begun, to me it is indisputable that the basic idea behind Fuzz is a winner. Yasuda and co. are right in their idea that it is much more fun to put people in charge of a music selection, and the difference give Fuzz a personality in its beta stage that even the larger, and more established, stations don’t share.

In fact, even if Fuzz doesn’t take off, it’s that idea that I love, and which I hope ultimately influences other stations to implement something similar. Although, as so many other things in the tech business have proven, sometimes all it really does take is a good idea, and the proper amount of momentum to make it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I may have to make a station featuring the music of Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, and the soundtrack to the video game “Earthbound.

With New Search Parameters, Google May Actually be Taking Action to Cut Down on Pirated Material

What happened to you Google? You used to be cool.

As part of their collaboration with the film and music industry, Google is working on modifying its search engine parameters to filter out pirated material. Google’s current search method works off of hundreds of variables to determine which webpages are the most relevant to your search. The largest factor is possibly your page rank, which is determined, in part, by how many sites link from you.

A new variable will soon be added, however, that takes into account the number of valid copyright removal notices a site receives. Basically, the more that a site receives, the lower they fall on the overall search rankings. Since Google is processing more copyright claims than ever before, they feel that they are primed to recognize sites with pirated material, and divert searchers to legal sites like Hulu, and Spotify instead for their content needs.

So far the Recording Industry Association of America, and the Motion Picture Association of America are both highly supportive of this move as they feel it represents the largest step ever taken by Google to protect copyrights and combat piracy, and are happy to be getting support from one of the biggest companies in opposition against the recent Stop Online Piracy Act bill.

I’m not as convinced. This surely sounds like a proper move by Google, but really how much is it going to help? For one thing, can even Google process enough copyright claims in time to shut down that many websites from appearing in top hits, and even if they can couldn’t you just go to page 2, or *gasp* 3 on your search to find the site? Also, wouldn’t smaller sites with the same material just pop up instead in specific search results as the bigger ones go down, creating an endless loop of fresh pirated material? Speaking of search hits, will this still filter out specific searches? In the interest of not outing anyone, if I search say, Swashbuckler’s Cove for a torrent of “Game of Thrones,” wouldn’t Google still take me directly there regardless of the copyright claims?

What’s even better is that no mention of the Google owned YouTube is found in any of the statements on this matter. You know, one of the world’s most popular and prolific websites where just about any copyrighted material can be found free of charge (except for porn of course, in which case you need to go to PornTube, YouPorn, or PornPorn).

So wait a minute. Is it possible that Google just pulled a fast one on the continually technologically ignorant music and film industries by doing something to please them, while effectively doing nothing to aid them?

Pretty sneaky Google.

Ford’s Looking to Make Driving Music Social With “Just Play”

Living in New York, I’ve made the increasingly necessary decision to never, ever own a car while in the city. As such I rely on walking and public transportation to get around. It’s certainly an ok option, but I miss driving around on a quiet night with some good friends and just listening to music. While an iPod is nice to have during my commute, there is no music listening experience (outside of a good concert of course) that can recreate how much fun it is to listen to music in the car.

Well unfortunately for lowly pedestrians like me, Ford is now looking to make that experience even better. They call the feature “Just Play” and it was created during the 24 hour “hackathon” at the Facebook campus. Just Play works with Ford’s voice activated Sync feature, and allows you to connect with your smartphone and Facebook app to share music with your friends. So whatever they are listening to, you can listen to as well and vice versa. Ford themselves acknowledge that it’s a “simple idea”, but there is some potential for this to incorporate other applications like Spotify and Pandora to create a driving music community experience that hasn’t really been around since the hey-day of rock on the radio.

Plus it just sound like fun.

Digital content providers team up to fight piracy

Picture 4Amazon, Apple, Myspace, Spotify, and a couple other digital content providers have grouped up to form Music Matters, an organization aimed at turning pirates into paying customers. I hate to criticize this movement because I definitely think it’s important to support the artists you love, but it’s just so hard to take the companies that hawk those digital wares too seriously. If Jack White were imploring me to please buy his albums I would be much more inclined to do it (except that Deadweather album, ugh).

The best part of the organization is a stamp that participating sites can post to remind customers that the site will pay the artists for the music you purchase. Oh wait, they’re required by law to pay artists whose music the sites have sold.

The site tries to grab your indie nerve with that pencil script seen on the cover of every Michael Cera movie. You can watch custom videos from a few bands as well. Other than that, I’m not entirely sure why the site exists.

Music Matters

Warner cuts free music stream support

Last.fm logo.Warner’s been making a lot of noise with regard to digital media over the past several weeks. First, we had CEO Bronfman complaining about the flexibility offered to ebook publishers. Now he’s decided that the free streaming method of content delivery isn’t working for his label anymore.

Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed. The ‘get all your music you want for free, and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price’ strategy is not the kind of approach to business that we will be supporting in the future.

Though he’s clearly unhappy with the status quo, he didn’t really define whether he would be pulling existing licenses or simply refraining from signing new ones. It’s also not that he doesn’t like streaming – it’s the free part he’s concerned with. As long as the music is paid for by the listener, Bronfman can rest a happy man.

Source: BBC