Monthly Archives: January 2009

surveying goose-influenced players

The user interface of the new Lala music player on Fred Wilson’s A VC blog is a close copy of the UI from Yahoo Media Player. Some of the goslings:

Lala:
Lala player

Streampad:
Streampad player

The Sixty One:
 player

(That player at TheSixtyOne used to be an exact copy of the UI, but they’ve tweaked it since then. See comments below).

The original YMP/Goose player:
 Yahoo Media Player


Some innovations that these developers have brought to the genre —

TheSixtyOne moved the player from the bottom of the viewport to the top, and merged it with global site navigation. The move to the top left gives it the single most important real estate on their site, which in fact makes good sense for a site that is about music. Merging with global nav is a more efficient use of limited screen real estate.

TheSixtyOne also made it so that no clicks within their site ever interrupt playback, which they do by having the entire site be one giant AJAX page. I remember having a conversation with Ian Rogers about exactly that method a few years ago, early in the development process. It’s fantastic to see it happen in the real world.

Streampad opens out to a much bigger size when you open the playlist tray, and that allows them to do a lot more functionality. Given how little space there is to work with in the actual player bar, creating real estate to fit new features in is important.

Lala added viral spread tools:
Lala share tab in player

They also added the ability to add a song to a playlist right from the player. Both of their features are long overdue for this family of music player, and I doubt it will be long before they get copied into the other branches of the family.


The wide adoption of the style innovated in Yahoo Media Player means a generational change in browser music playback. This style incorporates the two players that put play buttons into the document flow — Delicious PlayTagger (by Dan Kantor, author of the Streampad player), and 1pixelout — and extends them with a master playlist and many other features. This style supercedes the first generation — XSPF Musicplayer and JW player. (Given that both of the leading 1st generation players used XSPF, I also claim credit for leading roles in both the first and third generations).

PlayTagger:

1pixelout:

XSPF Musicplayer:

JW player:

Audiotool as kustom chopper

In October I wrote about the Flash 10 sound API from the point of view of audio file formats, reading the event as pure AJAX audio formats are now a reality. I said that innovation related to audio file formats was over in about 1998 and that the ability to do audio hacking in the browser would restart it, leading to the appearance of freaky Big Daddy Roth audio files with chromed metadata [and] embedded blenders.

The Hobnox Audiotool in-browser digital audio workstation that *I described as an amazing and wonderful piece of work is made possible by the Flash 10 sound API. And you could indeed think of it as a kustomized and hot rodded version of the MP3.

Check out the Audiotool dev blog for the American Chopper reality show of their shop.

client-server

So what’s the flaw in Apple’s move to start selling guitar lessons in Garageband? It’s not the web. It’s a proprietary client that would have been exactly the same, as far as the internet goes, in the client-server hype cycle of the late 1980s.

packaging notes for “Widow’s Plea”

What you see in the series of posts about Victorian mother songs on the blog for my own music is the realization of an idea about music packaging on the internet. I had a song to deliver, and I wanted to use packaging to give it a better chance in the world.

So I wrote up the context.

In the first post I described the genre as a whole, and included an MP3 of a parody of the song to show what the music sounded like. In the second post I described the music I learned from and included an MP3 of that recording. In the third post I put up interactive supplies — lyrics, chord charts, and sheet music — to help people have a direct interaction with the tune on a musical level. And in the fourth post, when I finally released my own recording, I also did notes about the recording process.

If you think about this in terms of digital music packaging, I didn’t try to replicate the specific doodads that come with a physical CD or vinyl record. There’s no one piece of album art, there’s no booklet, there’s no place in the series where you can say “this is it.” What there is instead is everything and anything I could find that would develop the music. What I didn’t want was a measly scrawny little MP3 file. What I did want was a human experience carrying meaning and emotion.