goose clone at Rhapsody

Rhapsody has replaced the music player in their site with a new player that is strongly influenced by Yahoo Media Player.

Here’s what it looks like by default: (click through to the full size image to really examine it)

Here’s what Yahoo Media Player looks like when playing back Rhapsody tracks:

Notice that Rhapsody’s player seems to be docked within the page, not the viewport. You’d think that means that you could scroll the track controls offscreen, losing one of the key advantages of YMP. But check out this smart improvement: if you scroll down far enough to push the track controls out of view, a floating mini-player gets stuck to the top of the viewport until you scroll back to the maxi-player:

Major music sites using players directly influenced by Goose/YMP now include Bandzoogle, Rhapsody, Hype Machine, AOL/Streampad, TheSixtyOne, and Lala. I realize that keeping a tally is gross, ungracious, and egotistical, but I need to do it for the sake of my resume.

techdirt on right to play

Mike Masnick at Techdirton the “right to play” post:

Oh, and don’t forget, the entire reason why South Korea is suddenly putting in place draconian, self-damaging, protectionist, copyright policies is because the entertainment industry went on a huge lobbying campaign claiming that South Korea was a haven for piracy, and then had the US gov’t include requirements for much more stringent copyright laws in a free trade agreement — despite the fact it was about the opposite of free trade. The entire purpose wasn’t free trade, but protectionism of the US entertainment industry. Soon after that passed, we noted that it would require shutting down any service that permitted unauthorized reproduction… and we’re seeing the impact of that now.

South Korea has been a leader in internet technologies. It had real broadband (both wired and wireless) to nearly every home well before almost every other country. As such, it has a thriving internet industry… but it has also had a thriving entertainment industry made up of execs who embraced the internet. Folks like JY Park, who recognizes that selling music directly is the past, but by embracing that fact, is building a media empire. But, of course, the folks back in Hollywood don’t want to compete and don’t want to change… so they got the US gov’t to force South Korea to put in place these ridiculous copyright laws that help them and harm pretty much everyone else.

Up the road from me in Hollywood, the musicians stand to lose plenty: if all free range MP3s are assumed to be infringing, making music on the internet will be de facto illegal.

Funny extremist commenter over at Techdirt says that Google should be forced both to host and to pay royalties for hosting:

Google shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this sort of thing. The law was put in place for a reason, to make uploaders, and sites holding those uploads, pay suitable penalties to Intellectual Property rightsholders. For Google to avoid the penalties simply by blocking such uploads, means that the rightsholders lose out on payments which are an important part of their livelihood. Don’t they have a right to be reimbursed for their hard, thankless work? To anybody who believes in the morality of Intellectual Property rights, this is simply unacceptable.

the right to play #2

I don’t know of a freedom or right to infringe musical copyright in the role of a listener. That seems like bullshit to me. You want to listen to some band, you’re attached to the consumerist feeding tube, pay up.

I do know of a freedom or right to make music. Musicians have an inalienable right to play. Nothing can disable that. Law should respect it, but it doesn’t either create or destroy it.

The right to play is universal. It doesn’t apply only to famous people, to performances made with the intent to profit, or even to the talented. Anybody who feels like cackling a tune in the shower has just as much right as Justin Timberlake does to sing live at the Grammys.

the right to play

Korea Times: Google Bans Music Uploads From Blogs

Google has banned subscribers to its Korean blogging platform, Textcube (, from uploading songs onto their blogs, citing the country’s new anti-file sharing provisions aimed at thwarting online piracy. This is the first time that the U.S. giant has disabled its bloggers from posting music files on their personal Web pages.

Predictably, the move is touching off fierce criticism from Internet users who are accusing Google of clipping their freedom to use copyrighted content.

The problem is not the freedom to use copyrighted content. I don’t know of any such freedom. The problem is the right to play.

A guitar teacher will be unable to post lessons, and a guitar student will be unable to post homework. Two musicians working together at a distance will be unable to share unfinished multitracks. An unsigned classical quartet will be unable to post samples of their work. Only the tiny few who work on commercially published recordings will still be able to be heard, and even only the small proportion of their recordings that are completed commercial works will be heard.

Most musicians are amateurs with no financial interest in copyright. The proportion of amateurs to professionals is so overwhelming that the word “musician” is a synonym for “amateur.” Whenever copyright is wielded on behalf of the professionals in a way that makes it harder for amateurs to make music, it is hurting musicians.

data format for musicians

Music Data Exchange Format (MDEF):

The Music Data Exchange Format (MDEF) is a free, open and portable XML based format being developed by Band Metrics for the purpose of sharing data relative to musicians and bands, because presently, there does not exist such a format. This music data exchanged can range from the number of song plays a band has on MySpace to the number of fans they have on Imeem, or the number of comments they have on PureVolume, or the number of subscribers they have to their YouTube Channel.

Yeah, this does need to exist.

The RDFolics have Music Ontology. The Microformatestants have hAudio and hCard. But this is a contribution from the perspective of music coders with running code — where angle brackets are a tool rather than apostasy — and that POV has been underrepresented.

in-page nav for continuous playback #3

Continuous play is a tough one when embedding into another site. Other than pop-out, there really isn’t a good solution.

For music sites, it makes sense to use AJAX to not do a page refresh, but then you are just fighting the way browsers are meant to work and Google. Of course it can be done, but it is a lot of extra work to make sure the back button works on all browsers and make sure your content is still indexable and to make sure your url structure doesn’t get completely ridiculous for people passing around links.

It looks like HTML5 will solve some of the back button issues. Google is committed to indexing Flash but I haven’t heard anything about AJAX.

Making sure your content is indexable is an interesting issue to bring up. In-page navigation is hell on SEO, and for good reason: when a site uses Ajax to do in-page navigation it conceals its own structure from spiders.

The back button isn’t as hard to deal with. A standard library like Really Simple History should be able to handle the mess, though I realize that this is hand-waving…

BTW, Streampad has pushed the state of the art so far past Yahoo Media Player that I’m tempted to change players in my blog here. I’d miss a couple features, though:

  • Using the class=”htrack” attribute (on MP3 links) to switch the playlist into “strict” mode.
  • The ability to link to XSPF playlists. This lets you insert MP3s into the current page from a remote third-party host, meaning that third parties can write extensions.

Seeing Yahoo Media Player get stale bums me out, but it was inevitable. A bittersweet thing about engineering is that all products are superceded by newer and better ones. If you succeed then the products that follow will build on yours, and that’s the most you can ever hope for. The only lasting accomplishment is to insert ideas into the memepool.

in-page navigation for music sites / how-to

On the topic of 100% in-page navigation for music sites, Steve Gravell surveyed the territory.

The methodology behind playing music on web pages changes depending on your needs and the design of the site, but what is pretty much a requirement is a Flash player somewhere on the site that does the actual playing part. The problem then becomes where to put it, because wherever you do put it, someone’s hopefully going to be navigating away from there to another page on the same site causing the swf to be destroyed and then reloaded on the new page leading to an interruption in playback.

The Hype Machine and Streampad implementations are the slickest for my money.

Something subtle and great about Streampad is that they hit the Tumblr API to play tracks on Tumblr, meaning that they take advantage of what Javascript can really do.

With Yahoo Media Player aka “goose” we handled the need for continous playback we did a button to pop out a player window. It was something people asked for a lot, or at least something that came up in conversation a lot. But I don’t think people really use it much.

An original feature of our pop-out window is that it’s not in kiosk mode: it has menu bars and a URL line, and it’s bookmarkable like any web page. I know it’s ugly and weird looking, but the reason is that the pop-out page has imporant features that comparable software doesn’t.

This link is to the pop-out/continuous-play page for a song. This link is the source from which I popped out that page.

But the lesson is that a pop-out player is just a familiar stimulus to help users feel comfortable, and it doesn’t solve any real user problems. Steve documents this way of doing things under the header Player in a popup:

We’re saving layout space and we’ve got continuous playback, you’d think that popup’s tick all the boxes, but the fact that it’s a popup just causes me to cringe. Granted they do add 1 feature that all other methods don’t have, that being the ability for the visitor to actually leave our site entirely and still have that playback going. But the downside of that is we’re more than likely going to have to put a lot of meta-data in that popup’s layout as well, making it into a mini-site mashup of crap that ends up just getting bigger and bigger. Worse than that is that we will probably have some ad requirements too that are going to have to be shoved into that popup. I don’t want to write about popups any longer.

The impetus to change you whole site allow seamless playing as the user clicks around is that popping out a window is a crappy user experience. Having separate but related windows on the same site makes no sense.

I hope this stream of thought writing style is readable. I wanted to comment on Steve’s doc, but I didn’t have much time for writing, and I figured if I let it go I might not come back to it.