bittorrent

Streamza angles into quasi-Internet radio via BitTorrent file-sharing

Monday, September 30, 2013 - 12:10pm

There are two big differences between Napster-style file-sharing and subscription music streaming like Rhapsody and Spotify. The first is that unauthorized file-sharing is, you know, unauthorized. Ad hoc sharing on peer-to-peer platforms infringes copyright, harms musicians to some degree (to an extent argued over the last 15 years), and can get you sued by media owners (although not as likely as it used to be). The second difference is that file-sharing hooks into the desire to own units of music, as opposed to accessing libraries of music. Local storage is losing ground to cloud availability as subscription platforms gain traction.

Streamza, a startup built on the BitTorrent file-sharing backbone, attempts to merge the two consumer priorities in a loop-closing service that locates, downloads, and streams music and video content. Technology like this is not entirely new, and has been built into some BitTorrent clients in the past -- those are the programs which pop up to negotiate the peer relationships needed to grab pieces of a file from the collective of sharing computers, and stitch them together on the downloading computer. During the grab-and-stitch, they start streaming the content to the impatient person tapping his fingers waiting for the file to arrive.

But Streamza differentiates by creating a platform-agnostic service that integrates the BitTorrent process in a way that emphasizes the streaming part, shoving the download handshaking into the background, and putting out an experience that resembles a streaming music subscription. Streamza aims to distribute on all the usual operating systems -- currently on the web, as a Chrome app, and purportedly in iOS (although a search for Streamza in Apple’s app store this morning came up empty).

BitTorrent is merely a technology -- neutral in all ways and perfectly legal, like mp3. But a first-timer to the Streamza web site can discern immediately that this is an unauthorized service, thanks to the “DMCA Requests” link at the bottom of the home page. That's like a badge that says, "Hey, don't blame us." An infringement-free application of Streamza technology could conceivably be applied to BitTorrent.com, a fully authorized walled garden that offers innovative distribution opportunites for content owners who want the efficiency of peer-to-peer distribution. As it sits now, Streamza is offering a broadly accessible way of enhancing the file-sharing experience, bringing faster gratification to the unregulated P2P realm.

Counting Crows lead singer: File sharing is a new, "better" radio station

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 12:20pm

Counting Crows' Adam DuritzStop us if you've heard this one before: "If you got 150 million people on BitTorrent, then that’s the new radio station... That’s a better radio station in fact, because people have the choice to play it as much as they want and stop when they get sick of it."

So said Adam Duritz, lead singer of Counting Crows. The band has released a selection of four songs for free in partnership with BitTorrent, "asking listeners to buy the full album if they want to hear more."

"It’s a no brainer to me... I can’t believe everybody’s not doing it," Duritz said, reportedly add that "it’s much better than bribing radio stations or record stores," according to TorrentFreak (here).

Duritz certainly isn't the first prominent musician to take this sort of stance. In early February, legendary singer/songwriter Neil Young said at the Dive Into Media conference, "I look at the Internet as the new radio. I look at the radio as gone... Piracy is the new radio. That’s how music gets around... That's the radio" (RAIN coverage here).

"Comparing piracy to radio is a smart way of looking at the issue," commented GigaOM then. "In the early days of the music business, when live performances and record sales were the main revenue generator for artists and publishers, radio itself was seen as a form of piracy (as sheet music was before that)."

Live P2P streaming protocol could potentially vastly improve audio streaming efficiency

Friday, February 17, 2012 - 10:00am

This week, at the SanFran MusicTech Summit, BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen demonstrated "P2P live streaming," which could potentially enable real-time video and audio streaming to millions of users without the need for a costly and high-performance central infrastructure.

While the focus for the P2P live streaming protocol is to make the heavy data loads of video events managable for Internet streaming, it could also potentially mean enormous savings for pure audio streaming, greatly reducing costs and allowing for higher bit-rate content (thus higher fidelity), more channels (for surround), etc. It should be noted that there have been other technologies that used a peer-to-peer style structure to decrease streaming costs and improve efficiency. But Cohen says he's rebuilt his technology from scratch, so his efforts may indeed the most advanced yet.

As you may know, BitTorrent was invented to make it easier to quickly distribute large files over the Internet. Instead of downloading an entire file from a single server, with BitTorrent, everyone accessing the file becomes (in BitTorrent parlance) a "swarm" of hosts, downloading and uploading fragments of the file from and to each other at the same time, until everyone has the complete file. GigaOm reports that BitTorrent (Cohen's company) is running "field tests" of weekly streaming live music events using the P2P protocol.

Read GigaOm's coverage here.

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