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Real-Time Radio Search Engine From Music Industry's Nemesis

timothy posted about a year ago | from the gadflies-love-being-swatted dept.

Music 59

An anonymous reader writes "From the guy who brought you CD syncing and the original music locker (both of which saw lawsuits from record labels) comes the latest invention to rock the music world: a real-time radio search engine. 1000s of worldwide stations are indexed in real-time and users can search and play most any popular artist — even the digital holdouts (Tool, Led Zeppelin, etc) that are unavailable on paid services like Spotify. (Kinda wonder why Google hasn't done this.) Link on main page points to an API for those who want to build mobile and web services."

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Innocent? (3, Informative)

kubajz (964091) | about a year ago | (#45442075)

This seems quite innocent and hugely useful at the same time - can anyone see the angle from which the rights holders will most likely try to attack his effort? :)

Re:Innocent? (5, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | about a year ago | (#45442105)

This seems quite innocent and hugely useful at the same time - can anyone see the angle from which the rights holders will most likely try to attack his effort? :)

Yes. "More people are listening to our product, therefore...uh...GIVE US MONEY!"

Re:Innocent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442987)

also, think about what this effectively does and where money comes on the radio. ADs pay for the radio. Radios pay for licensing. If I built a hopper on top of this, I would be skipping the ads and enjoying the licensing. Puts the radio in a rough spot. At the same time, screw ads.

Re: Innocent? (3, Interesting)

malchus842 (741252) | about a year ago | (#45442121)

Sure. Pass new laws that make it illegal....or include it in the new Trans-Pacific treaty, along with every other wish they have on their list.....

Streamtuner, or even iTunes (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#45442135)

There are many free radio station aggregators, even a somewhat cripple one from Apple. I never could figure out why people pay for that kind of service.

Re:Innocent? (4, Funny)

stjobe (78285) | about a year ago | (#45442165)

Listening to music without paying is not "innocent", it's downright unamerican. Or at least a threat to our beloved capitalism. If nobody makes a buck from it, it's gotta go.

You're not one of them pinko commie socialist types that think you can get something for nothing are you? Remember, you don't always get what you pay for, but you always have to pay.

Always.

Disclaimer: Portions of the above post may contain traces of sarcasm, cynism, or just downright trolling. Handle with care.

Re: Innocent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444499)

Bravo! (clap, clap, clap) Bravo!

Re:Innocent? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442183)

It probably depends on individual countries.

It doesn't look like they are actually capturing any data for rebroadcast:

About half are internet only stations and half are simulcasters who are transmitting their AM/FM station online as well.

( https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uxzNqPIZE0R_DJiMSR-NA5-yoc6APgt56odOixFlNZ0 )

That may not make them safe however as they appear to be embedding the streams rather than linking to an appropriate page on the streams source. Depending on the country you're in this is a bit of a grey area - you could be found to be infringing or liable for damages if you cause service/load problems for the original host or losses in revenue.

Whether they could be extradited from the US to another country for such a crime is also up for debate but it certainly seems possible depending on the terms of the extradition treaties.

Disclaimer: IANAL: But IP law, especially as it's applied across countries - is messed up.

Re:Innocent? (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about a year ago | (#45444459)

The argument will be: "No one will buy music if everyone can hear whatever they want whenever they want to with this search tool. Radio stations used to be cool because you could hear everything we sell, but not whenever you want to, so you'd buy it to have schedule control."

Then the counter-argument will be: "Not everything is playing all the time. That's only marginally true for the really popular stuff."

And the reply: "But that's just it. The demand will see the greatest reduction in the stuff from which we make the most money. How will we get by without selling a zillion copies of the latest thing before it quits being the latest thing anymore?"

And, the punishment will be 15 lashes with a buggy whip delivered by a journeyman in the candle snuffer's union (except punishment will have to be indefinitely deferred because union regs say that he can only snuff candles).

Existing licensing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444929)

I'm not sure rights holders will need to do anything to attack this- I think the internet broadcasters will find a way to unplug themselves from it. Most royalty rates for this kind of stuff are either batch-licensed (the big guys, Pandora-scale, that can get a specific, non-statutory-rate, deal covering the majority of what they play) or still at the statutory rate, which involves a calculation of how many listeners there were. So, unless you're a big player, at which point you can probably eat some royalties anyway, you risk getting crushed by a huge bill when 20k people dash over for one song and then disappear before you've played them any ads.

Not a nice man apparently (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442111)

Loads of ex-workers slagging him off - http://freespire.com/

Kinda wonder why Google hasn't done this? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442139)

They will be once they buy out this service.

Re:Kinda wonder why Google hasn't done this? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45442507)

why would they? they already got google music. why would they offer you a service that does that for free?

To advertise Google Play Music (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45443347)

So they can put ads for Google Play Music alongside it, obviously. It'd complement Google Song Search, which is Google's Shazam-alike (presumably powered by the same tech that powers YouTube's Copyrobeast [pineight.com] ) that directs users to Google Play Music instead of Shazamazon. One angle Google might use, should it acquire this service, is to the effect "if you like this artist, listen whenever, wherever* with Google Play Music."

* Offers vary by country

Curious about the technology they use (4, Interesting)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#45442235)

How do they do it ? Do they use a near-real-time indexing technology like elasticsearch or Apache Lucene ? Did they build something by themselves ?

Re:Curious about the technology they use (2)

Dmritard96 (1268918) | about a year ago | (#45443001)

Echonest (startup in boston) has some libs on github for audio fingerprinting and retrievel. That solves part of it, but the labeling seems like it might be the tricky part. As far as how to quickly search, yeah maybe elasticsearch, but it might not really be needed as the number of songs is pretty finite.

Re:Curious about the technology they use (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45443383)

the number of songs is pretty finite.

True. Not only do ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC control a limited number of musical compositions, about 10 or 20 million at my last count, but the whole set of possible musical compositions is limited to a couple hundred million at most. If you want, I can explain further. (Hint: lawsuits alleging 8 note similarity, 14 possibilities for each note after the first, 14^(8 - 1))

But the number of recordings of these songs is effectively unbounded, as is the number of ways stations can distort any particular recording. Different stations use slightly different level compressors on the signal, with slightly different methods of compensating for what the combination of level compression and FM preemphasis does to the "s" sound. And a lot of stations appear to use a 6% speedup, which pitches the music up by a semitone and allows fitting a few extra commercials in each hour. The matching metric had better be pretty robust.

Re:Curious about the technology they use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443951)

the whole set of possible musical compositions is limited to a couple hundred million at most. If you want, I can explain further. (Hint: lawsuits alleging 8 note similarity,

Just because the courts may not recognize more than a hundred million musical compositions doesn't mean that there can't actually be more than that. Reality tends not to care what the courts think.

a lot of stations appear to use a 6% speedup, which pitches the music up by a semitone and allows fitting a few extra commercials in each hour

...or they could fit the commercials in simply by playing less music, which arguably is exactly what they're doing if they play the songs faster so that they can play the same number of songs yet spend more time playing commercials and less time playing music. When it comes to there being too many commercials, I think most people judge that metric by what percentage of time the station spends playing music vs. other bullshit, and not by the number of songs played per hour. ...but I suppose that won't stop some dumbass with a clever idea.

Songs in a row metric (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45444889)

Reality tends not to care what the courts think.

The reality is that if you go into business and start to draw market share away from the incumbents (Universal, Warner, Sony), the incumbents will do their best to use the courts to make your business cost-prohibitive. So I disagree.

I think most people judge that metric by what percentage of time the station spends playing music vs. other bullshit, and not by the number of songs played per hour. ...but I suppose that won't stop some dumbass with a clever idea.

"You're listening to Wxxx $city. Keep your dial tuned to 10x.x where we always play at least six songs in a row."

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#45450539)

It's probably less songs than that, The record for a suit was 3 notes.

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45450839)

So in general, what should a songwriter do to avoid infringing?

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#45450903)

As near as I can tell, there's nothing that can be done but pray to the deity of their choice. Such is the state of what passes for law these days.

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

suutar (1860506) | about a year ago | (#45456881)

retire

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45458457)

If all the songwriters retire, then where are filmmakers and video game developers going to find background music?

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

suutar (1860506) | about a year ago | (#45458913)

They could cover or sample already existing background music. Or, since I would expect that instrumental background music would get a bit less scrutiny than top 40, songwriters could keep working in that area. (I would also like to note that I don't think all songwriters retiring would be a _good_ thing, just that that's about the only way to be sure that you won't infringe.)

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

Bertie (87778) | about a year ago | (#45443527)

I was assuming it was just reading song metadata from stations that provide it.

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#45447387)

Yes, I assume that, too. But that is not enough. You must keep that metadata in an index, in order to enable users to search through them. And that indexing must go damn fast. Let us assume a song lasts 5 minutes, and you track 100,000 stations. On average, then, you must index 100,000 / ( 5 * 60 ) = 333 songs / second. Although elasticsearch and / or Apache Lucene do that in a breeze, you prolly throw away the results each 5 minutes. This is atypical for an indexing engine, and brings you to do some extra delete-related I/O on top of the put-related I/O ops you already do. Sequitur: you need to do some pretty damn fast I/O. And I wonder how, with what tech, they reach that goal ?

Re:Curious about the technology they use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45447835)

Er, what? The dataset is tiny and being updated every five minutes. It never needs to go anywhere near a disk. You could index this in real time on your phone. Just stick it in a hashtable.

Re:Curious about the technology they use (1)

vikingpower (768921) | about a year ago | (#45448631)

Try to update a hashtable AND scrape old entries in that same hashtable, at a rate of 100,000 / 5 minutes, on a phone. Just try.

Re:Curious about the technology they use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45448889)

So I tried it on my shit old laptop. It performs hash table updates and deletes at a rate of 900 million / 5 minutes. This was running a debug build in a debugger; I didn't bother with a release build. So it's at least 9,000 times faster than required. Modern smart phones are not 9,000 times slower than my shit laptop. Thus it would certainly work on a phone. It would drain the battery, but that's not the point. The point is that running this service on a server is not even close to being any kind of engineering challenge. Hence I fail to understand your question.

moskva.fm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442297)

I know there is a Russian service that does this really well (http://moskva.fm, you need to understand the language). It's like a 24/7 DVR (well, DAR) combined with Shazam and extensive hyperlinking (so you can do things like "which stations played this song"). Pretty neat, but sadly I agree that RIAA lawyers have already been summoned to draft lawsuits.

Internet radio quality sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442441)

Internet radio quality sucks.

Re: Internet radio quality sucks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442589)

It's better than AM, and high bitrate streams are comparable to FM.

Re: Internet radio quality sucks. (4, Informative)

supersat (639745) | about a year ago | (#45442737)

High bitrate (128+ kbps) streams are almost always strictly better than FM. FM audio is band-limited to about 15 KHz so they have bandwidth for stereo (the 19 KHz pilot and 30 KHz of bandwidth around 38 KHz for the stereo signal).

One other dirty little secret of the radio industry is that many studio-transmitter links are just 128 kbps ISDN links -- most of which are MP3, although newer equipment supports AAC as well. Additionally, while the exact codec of HD Radio is a trade secret, it's thought to be very similar to HE-AAC running at 96kbps. Even 64kbps HE-AAC sounds pretty good.

Re: Internet radio quality sucks. (0)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#45443043)

How does that compare to Satellite Radio?
Because in my (limited) experience, FM radio sounded a lot better than Satellite used to.
I haven't been near a satellite radio in a few years, so I hope that's changed.

How is this new, exactly? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442511)

I've already got an app that I use for searching and listening (and even recording) called TuneIn... It's on iOS, Android, and has a web interface as well.

http://tunein.com/

Not sure what this really brings to the table.

Great service! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45442659)

Great service, with support for mobile it's a killer :-)

MR Responds (5, Informative)

Michael Robertson (3434417) | about a year ago | (#45442695)

Always nice to get a mention on Slashdot... except for the idiot in Brazil who is spidering the site and will be blocked in 3, 2, 1.... Some of my inventions have been blazed new trails like DVR for radio (DAR.fm), CD syncing (BeamIt), and the music locker (MP3tunes) but I don't think this service is in the same category because it's really an intelligence layer on top of radio. What news.google.com did for newspapers, we're trying to do for radio: make it searchable, bubble up top content and ultimately give users much more control. That's always a good thing in my book. The commenter who said we don't rebroadcast is accurate. The stream goes from the broadcaster directly to the end user's computer. It's worth nothing that the broadcaster may have royalty obligations similar to how Pandora has to pay royalties or any other online streamer. The record labels and the publishers are being paid. If you have suggestions for the service, please email me. mr@michaelrobertson.com Thanks!

/robots.txt (3, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45443423)

except for the idiot in Brazil who is spidering the site and will be blocked in 3, 2, 1

You appear to have no valid /robots.txt file [wikipedia.org] on the site. This won't stop intentionally misbehaving spiders, but right now, you don't even appear to indicate at all (in a machine-readable manner) that spiders aren't welcome. But before drafting /robots.txt, you need to make a decision: Do you want your result pages to be in Bing and Google, or do you want to hide your site from users of general web search?

Re:MR Responds (1)

theEnguneer (2676207) | about a year ago | (#45443669)

I wonder if you could combine your Search with an AI similar to Pandora's. So for example, the AI determines what music you like to listen to, but instead of paying someone for rights to play the song, it instead just uses your Search to find that song playing free one a radio station. Obviously, the major problem is to make it so the beginning of the next song lines up with the end of the current song. This would be ok if the next song on the same radio station was acceptable. Even if you had to switch to another station, with so many radio stations, chances are you can find one starting around the same time (maybe with a threshold of a few seconds).

Re:MR Responds (1)

theEnguneer (2676207) | about a year ago | (#45443723)

Or also, something like MP3tunes but instead of uploading music, just have it broadcast from the radio. Again, same problem of matching up end of song and beginning of next song. But once that's solved, I think many possibilities open up. These 2 just came to me off the top of my head Oh here's a 3rd, but it's kind of far off: Detect when a radio station stops playing music and starts playing commercials, and then switch to another station that's playing music automatically. I'm not sure if the radio station broadcasts some kind of flag that says "THIS IS COMMERCIALS", but if it doesn't, it would involve some kind of signal analysis to classify sounds as music or commercials.

I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45451269)

it would involve some kind of signal analysis to classify sounds as music or commercials.

Which side would "Summer Girls" by LFO fall to?

Re:MR Responds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444701)

yup, in Brasil is not working! ai puta que pariu!!!

Re:MR Responds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45446191)

Ahh, but are the authors and composers being paid?

AC

Re:MR Responds (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45451273)

are the authors and composers being paid?

Yes, by the radio stations.

Re:MR Responds (1)

Mathinker (909784) | about a year ago | (#45447849)

> It's worth nothing that the broadcaster

I think you meant "It's worth noting", no?

And while I have the chance, thanks for all of your innovations, and best of luck in your endeavors (including in court). The original mp3.com site rocked; I can only speak for myself, but it was totally eye-opening for me to understand how many good, unknown, indie musicians there are, and to partially glimpse (what I believe is) the future direction of music.

Re:MR Responds (1)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about a year ago | (#45466807)

This is an excellent service! I never listen to Pandora because I am not interested in an algorithm mining for my tastes, I concluded that after giving it a try a few times. But this is way different: people who play songs I like are likely to play other songs I like, whether those songs have similar "DNA" or not.

I just put the theory to the test by typing "iron maiden", pick a station that played one of their songs, the next song was U2 in the name of love -- very different songs but I liked both. Then saw a more rare maiden song played on another station -- great idea to keep the updates for the search going! -- and the rest was a mixture going from Metallica through Journey, songs not similar and some I wouldn't pick on my own but liked them being served. And now it's playing songs I haven't even heard before and they are gooood.

One suggestion: would be nice to keep the list of the last few songs that played, just the names, e.g. just now there a song I liked ended and another is playing but I can't see the prev. song name. So maybe 5-6 of the most recent songs that played (and you can add direct links to Amazon or iTunes).

All in all, really really good site! In relation to Pandora it's like playing a game against a bot vs a live person. Thanks a bunch.

Just another advertiser spying vector (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | about a year ago | (#45443603)

Just another advertiser spying vector. If you really like music flipping through channels is fun not a chore. That is MO. of course people will find it handy.

get your facts right... (2)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year ago | (#45443645)

Tool and Led Zeppelin are absolutely available on Spotify and Pandora.

Re:get your facts right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444091)

Tool isn't.

Re:get your facts right... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444643)

Tool is on Pandora, or at least it was six months ago the last time I used it.

capcha: problems?

Re:get your facts right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45445789)

Just heard Vicarious played on Pandora earlier today. Pretty sure I've also heard Lateralus, The Patient and Sober on Pandora as well.

Re:get your facts right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45447973)

Tool and Led Zeppelin are not available in Spotify. Led Zeppegain is, a tribute band.

These artists are available on Pandora because all artists in US are available using the government license. Spotify doesn't use that license so they have to negotiate and some misguided artists withhold their library.

Re:get your facts right... (2)

Aryden (1872756) | about a year ago | (#45450615)

You're correct, both on Pandora but not on Spotify, yet another reason to use pandora instead.

Why google hasn't done this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45443893)

"Kinda wonder why Google hasn't done this."

Its obvious: they sell a service this completes with.

ugly-ass interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444137)

That is one of the crappiest interfaces anyone has ever worked a year on.

Oh, and ... when I find a station? I need to know its URL so I don't have to keep returning to that ugly-ass interface.

Snippets (3, Insightful)

Exitlights (1004199) | about a year ago | (#45444271)

Finally, a site where I can hear the last 30 seconds of any song I want!

Why google doesn't do this? (1)

BenBoy (615230) | about a year ago | (#45444761)

Kinda wonder why Google hasn't done this

Their business model? Google sells on-demand access to a large-ish music catalog; I assume they don't want to compete with themselves ...

Tune in pro radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45444923)

Already does this.

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