This morning, Spotify and 7digital announced a ‘strategic partnership’ that’ll let Spotify users click straight through to buying MP3s on 7digital. Although I’ve awarded both of them an official Tech Digest badge of awesomeness in the past, the tie-up isn’t much more than the sum of its parts. Let’s have a look at five other dream partnerships that could really rock the world of digital music.
Pink Floyd and Guitar Hero
Once, not long ago, that would have read “The Beatles”, but the Fab Four’s estates have now given the thumbs up to Beatles Rock Band, so the net has to be cast a little wider. There are still a few digital standouts – most notably Pink Floyd but also Led Zeppelin – that haven’t worked very much with the Guitar Hero or Rock Band developers.
Other holdouts – Metallica, Tool and AC/DC have reneged on their digital hesitancy to get more heftily involved with the series. Tool provided artwork and several songs to Guitar Hero: World Tour, and Metallica are producing their own version of the game.
Top of my list, though, is Pink Floyd. As a massive fan of The Division Bell, I can’t think of anything more awesome than twiddling my way through “Coming Back to Life”. Blasting through ‘Money’ on bass in 7/4 time.
Major labels and Bittorrent
This might be a bit of a contentious one, and it’s probably the least likely of the lot, but it’s also the one that could prove the most fruitful. The major labels have the content cracked – the one thing people don’t say about them is that they have bad taste in bands – and Bittorrent is one of the most efficient distribution systems that there is.
If a major label set up a subscription-based Bittorrent tracker, where for £5 or a month or equivalent people were free to download and share playlists of as much as they like of that label’s content, then there’d be umpteen different benefits for the label.
Firstly, people in the community would emerge as tastemakers, who’d be great for the label working out which acts can sink or swim. Secondly, they’d not have to worry about distribution at all – the more popular an act, the faster everyone’s downloads would be. Lastly, they could easily track the relative popularity of different bands and allocate the revenues accordingly.
Audiosurf and Mobile Phones
Last year, I met with a senior staff member at Namco Mobile over my allegations that ‘mobile games are almost always awful’ – a view that I generally still hold. We had a good chat, and respectfully differed on a few things. But then I told him that he should convert Audiosurf to mobile.
He looked confused – ‘what’s Audiosurf?’. I explained that it’s a game where you load in whatever MP3s you like, and then it generates a track for you based on that song, where fast bits slope downhill, slow bits slope uphill and obstructions appear in time with the beat. You then race along the course, picking up blocks and lining them up in a grid.
It’s basically a bit like iTunes playing Tetris at WipEout. It’s absolutely perfect for mobile – short games, low graphics requirements, and global high scores uploaded via internet connections. Plus that compulsive ‘must beat the high score’ factor that’s seen me listen to far more Girls Aloud songs than anyone ever should.
Ninjam and Freesound
Think that’ll result in a latency mess? You’d be right, except that it delays the playback of your tracks to other musicians until the end of a bar. You’re playing along, therefore, with what the other musicians were playing during the last bar. As a result, it doesn’t work so well for pop music, but works brilliantly for more ‘jam’-y genres like jazz and post-rock.
Freesound, on the other hand, is a database of samples with creative commons licenses that anyone can use. A tie-up between the two, therefore, would be fantastic for the creation of sample-laden, gently evolving tracks – a bit like Lemon Jelly or Boards of Canada. It’s got to be moddable into the software, right?
Spotify and Last.fm
But I’ve saved my absolute favourite for last. A tie-up between Spotify and Last.fm, with the former supplying music and the latter supplying the social network and recommendations functionality, would be the best thing since sliced bread.
Spotify knows this, and founder Daniel Ek has publicly stated that he’d love to license Last.fm’s recommendations engine. Last.fm’s weakness is that it doesn’t do much in the way of full-track on-demand streaming. Spotify’s is that it doesn’t do radio very well. Surely, a match made in heaven.
Will we ever see it? Despite Spotify’s advances, Last.fm has been a little tight-lipped on the subject. Part of that is that it’s got its own problems to deal with at the moment. Part of that might also be that it thinks it can replicate Spotify’s functionality itself without their help. Whether that’s true or not, Spotify has the buzz right now – and Last.fm doesn’t. You can’t disregard that factor.
What would be your dream matchup? Drop us an email – [email protected] – and tell us, and we’ll showcase the best of your suggestions in a future post.
The EU has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a report that heavily criticises the ‘three-strikes’ law implemented in Frace that would kick filesharers off the internet after being caught downloading copyrighted content three times.
It’s been massively unpopular with everyone except the content industries, with ISPs in particular fighting against having to cut off their own customers. Greek MEP Stavros Lambrinidis fought back against the idea too, with his report being overwhelming voted in – 481 votes in favor, 25 against and 21 abstentions.
Whether or not this will force France to back down is yet to be seen. Sarkozy doesn’t have a great track record of obeying the EU parliament. Still, it should lessen the pressure on Irish ISPs who are being forced by their content industries to enact similar rules.
Norway’s state broadcaster, NRK, has launched its own bittorrent tracker, following a number of successful tests in 2008. A tracker, if you’re unaware, is the ‘matchmaking’ part of the bittorrent protocol, acting as a signpost to help people who want content find people who’ve got that content.
The tracker, which will operate exactly like the Pirate Bay does, except with legitimate content. NRK is funded by a license fee, much like the BBC, and so they have a mandate to reach as wide an audience as possible with the best possible quality. The DRM-free downloads provided by this service will achieve that wonderfully.
Best of all, the bittorrent protocol gains strength as more people download something. The busier the service is, the faster it is for everyone. So when there’s a million people trying to download the latest episode of the Norwegian equivalent of Eastenders, everyone gets it fast. As long as the government themselves seeds at least one copy of every file on the network, then everyone will be able to get whatever they want.
A win for consumers, a win for the broadcaster, and a win for Norway. I hope you’re taking notice, BBC. The iPlayer is good and all, but a bittorrent tracker would be even better.
With the sad and slightly tinged with irrelevance news of project Kangaroo biting the dust, we here at TD wanted to share our alternative suggestions for good, damn good and downright excellent places to watch TV on the internet.
So, instead of waffling on – which believe me, I do like to do – about why Kangaroo’s failure isn’t so bad and yet is important in terms of intelliectual property, let’s get straight to the heart of it. What are we going to do now? Where should we watch TV online. Well, this is the Tech Digest answer…
Six days. That’s all it takes for most Oscar screeners to make it onto the internet after they’re sent out to Academy members. Andy Baio at Waxy.org has compiled a massive spreadsheet of the dates at which different films appear online.
This year, on nomination day, 23 out of 26 films were already available in DVD quality. Australia and Changeling leaked shortly after. Only one film – Rachel Getting Married – still remains unavailable at the time of writing. I suspect that the pirates are only going to see that as a challenge. Definitely check out the full list, because it’s shocking how quickly some of these movies leak.