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MP3 blogs to playlists to streaming to podcasts to your newsreader

While the RIAA does battle with the big music-sharing services, smaller communities are gathering around the fringes to do interesting things with blogs, playlists and RSS feeds.

Item: MP3 blogs are weblogs which offer MP3s to illustrate their authors' comments on music. There's a flourishing MP3 blog scene, mostly dealing with obscure material of little interest to the big record companies. If you like the idiosyncratic world of blogs, you may enjoy MP3 blogs, too. A couple to start with could be Soul Sides and Fluxblog.

Item: Webjay is a "playlist community" of people who post playlists of links to MP3, Windows Media and RealMedia audio. For instance I've been browsing Webjay playlists of cumbia and Brazilian tracks. Webjay doesn't deliver the audio, just links to audio found elsewhere on the web, but it makes the audio available in a lot of useful ways. It has nice search, social and recommendation features (e.g., if you like a playlist you can find other playlists which contain overlapping material). More importantly, Webjay offers each playlist in M3U and SMIL formats, so your favorite streaming audio tool can deliver the playlist as a continuous stream. And it offers each playlist as an RSS feed suitable for podcasting.

Item: Podcasting is the practice of automatically downloading audio from an RSS feed into your iPod or other MP3 player. The name is confusing as the kind of MP3 player doesn't matter; what's important is that podcasting lets you time-shift audio the way a Tivo or other DVR (or a VCR for that matter) lets you time-shift TV. Tell your "podcatcher" the RSS feeds to watch and it will grab any audio they link to and save it in your player for you.

Item: Playthispage is a Webjay feature which brings the three previous items together. Webjay can turn any page which contains links to MP3s into a playlist and into a podcast-ready RSS feed. Thus the URL of the MP3 blog Soul Sides:

http://soul-sides.com/
...can be used to automatically generate a corresponding Webjay playlist:
http://webjay.org/playthispage?url=http://soul-sides.com/
...which in turn has an RSS feed that you can use with your favorite podcast software:
http://webjay.org/by/playthispage/soulsides2823529.xml
Nifty.

But that's only one way these goodies can be hooked together. I don't have a standalone MP3 player and I'm a little fuzzy on how podcasting would work for me without one. In any case I'm more interested in the ability of Webjay to take a list of discrete MP3s and splice them together in a continous "show" that I can have playing in the background. So here's what I've done: in my RSS newsreader I've subscribed to the Webjay Playthispage RSS feeds for several MP3 blogs. If I see something that looks interesting in the newsreader, I visit the Webjay playlist page and use it to launch my Quicktime player to play the show. (There's a trick to making that work in Firefox that I can elaborate on if anyone has read this far.) If something catches my ear, I visit the MP3 blog itself to read about the track; if I still like it, I download the full MP3 and save it in iTunes.

That gives me three things I like to have connected to one another: "radio" to play in the background, MP3s to download, and liner notes.

Someday I'm sure the preceding hodge-podge will exist in one system; iTunes is most of the way there. But such a system is likely to be for pay and limited to the content available in somebody's master library of licensed material. As klugey as MP3 blogs, podcasting and Webjay are, they're open-ended and limited only by the content the web at large chooses to make available.

toys 2004.11.15 link

Comments

How do you get it to work in Firefox?

Lane [lagbnaft cxe gmail punkto com] • 2004.11.16
Okay, here's how I got Webjay's M3U streams to play using Firefox 1.0, QuickTime Player 6.5.2 and Mac OS X 10.3.6.

(1) I enabled everything I could in QuickTime Player:

(1a) I navigated to:

QuickTime Player > Preferences > QuickTime Preferences > Plug-In > MIME Settings (button)

(1b) I checked the checkboxes for everything that looked pertinent, but in particular:

MP3 > MP3 playlist file

(2) I used Firefox's bizarro way to map m3u to QuickTime Player.

(2a) I clicked on an M3U playlist at Webjay (the "Winamp, QuickTime and all others / play page" form).

(2b) When the "what do I do with this" dialogue came up, I selected "Save to disk" and "always do this". That's the only way I know to get Firefox to add the MIME type to the menu for the next step.

(2c) I navigated to:

Firefox > Preferences > Downloads

(2d) I selected "M3U Audio Playlist" under "File Types".

(2e) I selected "Change Action" button, "Open them in this application":

/Applications/QuickTime Player.app

That's it. There are some things I just don't get about Firefox. Why does the Downloads / File Types menu not display the true MIME types (e.g. "audio/mpegurl" for M3U playlists)? Why does the "what do I do with this" dialogue not let me navigate to a new application at step (2b) above? Surely that's a bug!

And I haven't been able to generalize this recipe for other services. For instance, the Internet Archive's audio archive offers M3U streams with the alternative MIME type "audio/x-mpegurl" (see for example the curious Conet Project page). If I click on the "MP3 via M3U" link, QuickTime Player reports "Couldn't open the file because it is not a file that QuickTime understands"; but if I copy the stream URL and paste it into QuickTime's "Open URL" dialogue, it works!

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.11.16
Podcasting gets really interesting when you've got pervasive WiFi and once other mobile devices catch up, because then anyone can start up a legal, unregulated radio station broadcasting live to people in the street. This is important in places like Spain, where getting a radio license depends on paying large sums of money into politicians' offshore accounts and keeping it depends on maintaining the same sort of goodwill with the regulator.

Trevor@Kaleboel [trevor cxe followthebaldie punkto com] • 2004.11.16
This news earlier this week will bring us closer to the reality that Trevor is talking about.

ttrentham [todo cxe thechunk punkto com] • 2004.11.16
P.S. I think we can attribute the Firefox clunkiness to the fact that it just went 1.0.

They finally fixed the fact that they opened a new window every time I clicked on a link in a e-mail. I've noticed that trying to download multiple JPEGS in a row from a web site by right-clicking and picking "Save Image As..." results in massive memory hogging by Firefox. I haven't checked bugzilla yet see if it's already been logged. Webpages with embedded Java applets also seem to give Firefox trouble.

That being said, the Adblock plug-in is more than enough to keep me using it over other browsers.

ttrentham [todo cxe thechunk punkto com] • 2004.11.16
Okay, I'm playing with my own Webjay playlist. It's not a coherent program, just odds and ends that turn up in my browsing.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.11.16
To make it even easier, Webjay has a bookmarklet:

Play this page

Drag that link to your bookmarks toolbar, visit a page with embedded MP3s, click on the bookmark and viola! The page will be converted to a Webjay list ready for streaming or podcasting.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.11.19
Good lord -- the wiki entry, One Million Free and Legal Music Tracks, reviews a huge list of sites with free downloadable music. It's a mixed bag, from public domain and creative commons sites to MP3 blogs (which may stretch the "legal" description depending on your interpretation of fair use) to the largest category, try-before-you-buy sites. It also includes streaming sites, of less interest to me although Webjay on a good day can stitch those together, too.

In other news, Webjay was hit by crackers and went down for a while but it's back up now. And my own Webjay playlists (three to date) are in the sidebar of my music page.

Prentiss Riddle [riddle cxe io punkto com] • 2004.12.08
"Someday I'm sure the preceding hodge-podge will exist in one system; iTunes is most of the way there. But such a system is likely to be for pay and limited to the content available in somebody's master library of licensed material. As klugey as MP3 blogs, podcasting and Webjay are, they're open-ended and limited only by the content the web at large chooses to make available. "

It was a kind of funky little jolt I experienced when i read your post. I've been wanting something like you describe too for a while now so i built one. I call it Big Contact. (Myself and my co-developer are both musicians and we wanted to create an environment where musicians and their mp3s have good contact (for great promotion of course) w/ listeners/lovers of music) - and listeners/lovers of music have a great source to find, organize, share, and help redistribute music. It's built with mp3 bloggers (as well as podcasters) in mind - and uses XML feeds as its backbone...

While you can create your own blog at Big Contact, there are also tools that let mp3 bloggers who may already have their own blogs - lets them turn their mp3 blog (w/ rss) into a podcast-ready rss as well as add a streaming music player to your existing site that plays your mp3 blog without you editing another playlist. all you do is update your blog - and yer streamer is updated as well. your blog is your playlist (and has all the text, pics and links that you had added to the blog in the player as well...) Pretty funky.

http://www.BigContact.com

We are still beta testing. If anyone is interested in more info email me: nat@bigcode.com.

Also, to see some other stuff where i'm coming from, here is my mp3 blog/podcast/online channel: http://ww.hellthy.com

Cheers

Nat Guy [nat cxe bigcode punkto com] • 2005.03.02
Hey - I forgot a "w" in one of the links above - whoops:
http://www.hellthy.com

Nat Guy [nat cxe bigcode punkto com] • 2005.03.02
Podcasting seems to be catching on with techies, but it looks as though it will take a little longer to catch on with the very large non-techie iPod owning community. Once it does the potential is absolutely huge as the possibility of creating your very own, on the move, personal radio station will be a reality.

Ivan

http://www.the-ipod.com

Ivan [ivan cxe the-ipod punkto com] • 2005.03.28
i have created my own mp3 blog. the task of creating such a site is quite difficult even with a lot of plugins already available. I hope you could visit my site and give some feedbacks http://videokeman.com

videokeman [nor_man_ski cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2007.07.31
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