persistent URLs for songs

In the conversation about musicians controlling their own web site, Farsheed said:

The trick is getting rid of all the middlemen, and having a *really* reliable URL that represents the band. From there the band can dish out reliable URLs to MP3s (could be 3rd party) which can get aggregated and indexed by search engines. That will in turn improve the search relevance of indexed mp3 links so that music bloggers, Songbird, Google, Facebook, etc can quickly see that the most relevant and reliable source for music is the band itself, and link directly.

Perhaps the simplest solution is just encouraging ultra-solid URLs. Have bands register their domain name, and maybe have a service or script using Apache rewrite that resolve to the most current mp3 of a file

Example:

http://www.radiohead.com/album/in_rainbows/song/nude

I do think they need their own domain name to maintain ownership over the URL, even if the root domain redirects or redisplays their myspace page.

I could see a whole service being built around providing redirect links to other webservices, but giving the band control over these redirects (or having multiple sources to cycle through).

I really like the idea of enabling musicians to create ultra-solid URLs for their works. It’s inspiring.

Over on Webjay we found that the stability of URLs was highly variable, and stable URLs out-competed transient ones. This worked courtesy of viral URL sharing — people got new instances of songs by copying URLs rather than by uploading their own rips, and it takes enough time for a URL to get passed around that only the stable ones can really compete.

Stability is correlated with being on the up and up.

Authorized hosts are in a position to keep the URL going. The system administrators work *towards* stability rather than against it. Unauthorized ones get a DMCA takedown request, or an internal audit discovers a file that is counter to policy, or they were based on a transient account like a college student’s.

In my visualization of a Webjay-friendly future for internet music, I pictured bands actually changing the target of the URL as time goes on and their needs change. At the beginning they just need exposure and the URL would be a full length MP3. Midway through they would have a dispute with the label over rights to the recording and would convert the song to a 30 second sample. Further on they would have the full song, but with an an audio ad appended. They might provide a high bit rate version if your cookie indicated that you had filled out a survey. They might use HTTP content negotiation to return a version in the file format which is best for your player.

Etc — the general point is that the URL would be persistent, while the representation of the underlying song would change. It’s RESTful, and because of this the musicians would be taking advantage of web architecture.