Digital Music Trends – Episode 43

This week: an interview with Michael Breidenbrücker and Robert Thomas from Reality Jockey (RjDj) and the second and part of my Sounds Digital wrap-up. In the news: New Zealand’s anti-piracy measures, the Echo Nest’s musical fingerprinting, MXP4 secures another round of funding, the impact of mobile on Shazam and Facebook’s new Social Graph.


Sounds Digital: In the second half of Keyonte day at Sounds Digital summaries of the main points made by Dave Birss from OgilvyOne, Steve Jang and JasonDa Ponte from the BBC.

– In New Zealand proposed anti-piracy measures are getting closer to becoming law
The road towards the approval of any law attempting to regulate piracy online is notoriously long and windy and in New Zealand it looks like the Copyright (Infringement File Sharing) amendment is getting one step closer to being approved – althoughTorrentFreak reports that it has another 6 months of studies by the Commerce Select Committee ahead before being re-examined in Parliament – so it probably won’t be implemented until 2011 at this rate. The first attempt at something like this in New Zealand was made in 2008 but suffered from severe backlash down due to the sheer unpopularity of the process. Now it seems like with France and the UK leading the way in this area other countries are picking up the courage to re-examine the possible avenues to combat file-sharing, and the copyright owners demanding these measures finally have some examples to point to when saying that such legislation can be approved. In New Zealand the measures taken will be similar to the three strike laws implemented elsewhere with the failure to comply with the three warnings resulting in the loss ofinternet access for up to six months, and fines of up to 15,000 new zealand dollars for infringement. Theoretically this is all well an d good, but we have yet to see a successful deployment of these measures both in France and in the UK, so where the approval of laws regulating online piracy was considered a steep hill, its successful implementation may prove an insurmountable mountain.
– The Echo Nest launches a Musical Fingerprinter at the Amsterday MusicHackday
MusicHackDay took place in Amsterdam last week-end, the meet-up has become a good place for companies to come out with new features that may appeal mostly to the dev community to begin with but that will certainly go on to influence the way everyone uses particular services. One such announcement was made by the Boston-based company Echo Nest that unveiled its very own Fingerprinting technology. The new implementation aims to identify a song based on its musical blueprint in less than a second thus getting rid of the mess attached to importing, exporting and messing around with metadata.
Paul Lamere, director of the application developers community for Echo Nest, published on his blog at a great explanation of what the new feature is and what it aims to do – and i’m reading here “The Echo Nest music fingerprinter takes a bit of music such as an MP3 and identifies the song based solely on the musical attributes of the song”. Important features that aim at differentiating this service from other fingerprinting technologies are that it’s very fast, very accurate and it’s based on an open server and open data policy, so that the data is accessible to anyone. This technology has a myriad of applications and I can’t wait to see it being applied to other services. It’s being launched with a soft release as it’s still very early days but if you’re a developer get stuck in and see what you can do with this!
– Interactive music start-up MXP4 secures a 4 million dollars round of investments to develop its MXP4 everywhere plan
Interactive music start-up MXP4 has raised another 4 million dollars in its latest round of investments, which will be used to develop its MXP4 Everywhere platform – the aim here being to be able to distribute its widget and its technology across the widest possible variety of mediums. I’ve been reporting onMXP4 for a year, its CEO Albin Serviant having been one of the first guests on this show and they are one of the companies best placed to conquer the music remix market. Apple seems to have missed out on a major major feature by leaving outiTunes LP from the iPad and since users seem to be craving for interactive music MXP4 will be more than happy to pick up the ball. Tec  hCrunch reports that MXP4 has so far raised $14 million dollars in VC funding and its technology has already been used by over 100 big-name artists so far. MXP4 has also recently released its own MXP4 Max It  software available for both PC and MAC users which lets users create their own MXP 4 files. It will be extremely interesting to see what they come up with in the next 12 months and how they are going to tackle theMXP4 Everywhere initiative.
– Shazam sees a 60% boost in turn-over from mobile apps.

An interesting figure was reported by the Music Ally blog which reflects the impact of the mobile app stores on the development of some digital music companies – Shazam in this case. Apparently according to the accounts for the financial year ending on the 30th of June 2009 the company’s revenues – compared to the previous year – went up by 60% from 4,6 million to 7.3 million. This rise in revenues corresponded with the release of the iPhone app and also apps for other smartphones. Whilst it’s not accurate to say that mobile alone was the drive to this increase, it’s certainly fair to say that it was probably a big factor. Pandora similarly enjoyed a huge expansion thanks to its mobile apps and with multi-tasking in the wings this is a market that is only destined to grow and will essentially become the next form of radio.

– Facebook launches social plug-ins that could have a direct impact on music.

And finally a number of outlets have reported on the latest Facebook development: social plugins. At the F8 conference Facebook announced the creation of a number of social plug-ins that can be inserted in third party websites whose job is to track what you like, what events you are attending and let you chat with your friends on pages outside the confines of Facebook. This is basically a way for Facebook to extend its reach to outside the walled garden of which is also a way in which it could start threatening Google’s dominance in web advertising. But what are the implications in music? Cnet has a really good article on this which i suggest you check out from the shownotes. The most interesting one so far is partnership with personalized radio service Pandora. This new partnership will allow you to import all your facebook’s contacts in Pandora with one click, see what they are listening to and even tune into the same “radio station”. Potential benefits are the fact that you don’t need to enter any new information and that you are not constantly worrying about having to post or link to a particular track unless you really want to because your friends who are also using Pandora will be able to see what you are doing anyway. The Cnet article also states that record labels and bands will be able to collect data by introducing the new “like” buttons within their sites and once you click on those the information will not only go to Facebook but also to Pandora and will enhance the recommendation experience automatically! Naturally there are huge privacy implications in all this and it seems like some flaws in the implementation of the APIs of these social graphs have already been uncovered that revealed to all the events attended by users who had not chosen to make their profile public, but all in all this is a pretty neat feature – you just have to accept the fact that between your transport card (for those living in large cities), credit card, email,IP tracking and everything else privacy does not really exist any more…


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