P2P

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.

Audiogalaxy returns with P2P Internet radio/music locker service

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 12:15pm

The newly-relaunched Audiogalaxy.com is designed as a "hybrid" of two popular online music models: (1) an online "locker" to store and remotely stream users' private music collections, and (2) customizable, algorithm-based "music discovery" streams -- in other words, personalizable Internet radio.

But more than this particular combination, what's interesting is the delivery structure. The music isn't even streamed by Audiogalaxy in the conventional sense -- what the user hears is actually streaming directly from user to user, without ever being saved on the company’s servers: peer-to-peer streaming. Logically, this arrangement greatly reduces Audiogalaxy's bandwidth bill while quickly growing their library of available music. 

"Our service offers music fans a tunable music experience - play your own tracks anywhere without uploading, copying, or syncing, or lean back and start discovering music you don't own via Mixes," Michael Merhej, the company's founder, said in the launch announcement. The company calls the music discovery streams "Mixes;" they're playlists of recommended songs pulling not from a library Audiogalaxy had to build itself, but from all of Audiogalaxy's users' collections.

Because of the peer-to-peer architecture, the locker service doesn't require users to actually upload their music files. Instead, up to 200-thousand songs on your computer are simply scanned and made available for instant streaming.

(While this is reminiscent of iTunes Match or the MP3Tunes.com "Beam-It" feature (here), its fundamental difference is that Audiogalaxy isn't serving the file back to the user.) 

The streams are ad-free and cost nothing for desktop listening. Mobile streams are $4/month.

Janko Roettgers, in GigaOM, wrote, "I had a chance to play with both the Web as well as the mobile version of the service Monday, and I liked what I saw. Pandora tends to gear towards the mainstream when listening to niche channel stations, but Audiogalaxy served up tons of music I hadn’t heard before. The local stations are also a nice touch. However, the Android app seemed a bit too cluttered to be useful, with too many options to access information about playlists and stations."

See more, including an introductory video, here. Read Roettgers reporting here.

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