Michael Robertson thinks people should be able to listen to their digital music anywhere on any device. That’s exactly what MP3tunes sets out to do.
Robertson, the founder of MP3tunes, is a huge advocate of cloud based music services. He’s no stranger to the vengeance that record labels have when it comes to protecting digital song copyright law (as they define it.) In fact, he’s actually taken it on the chin before against the record companies – in the late 90’s he founded MP3.com, which he eventually sold to CNET after losing an expensive legal battle with Universal. His new service MP3tunes is currently involved in a lawsuit with EMI over copyright infringement issues.
“I think ownership is critical important in the digital age and worth fighting for.” said Robertson. “I think consumers should be able to choose where they want to use their digital property as they can with their physical property. I don’t want a corporation to be able revoke or limit access – as we’ve seen happening with Apple and Amazon.”
MP3tunes currently has over 500,000 registered users who upload their entire music collection to servers and access it from wherever they want. MP3tunes works on multiple smartphones platforms: Android, iPhone/iTouch, (iPad version waiting for approval) and many Internet radio devices (it’s compatible with devices that use vTuner and Reciva firmware.) This week they’ll introduce a deal with Roku that will enable access to music lockers on televisions.
Currently, the business model is a freemium model that offers listeners smaller sized lockers for free and charge a subscription fee for more storage space. But additional revenue sources like e-commerce and advertising may be in the cards as well.
The Internet Media Device Association (IMDA) has released a standard for standalone internet radio devices which will help to align competing technologies, hasten development of more devices, create clear rules for broadcasters and benefit consumers. For manufacturers of internet radios, the certification standard aims to reduce time to market and marketing risk by removing the prospect of rival technology wars. At the same time, online broadcasters adhering to IMDA Profile 1 will be able to reach target audiences using fewer audio codecs, cutting associated costs.
Mark Hopgood, an IMDA steering committee member and Frontier Silicon’s director of marketing, commented, “audio data streaming over the internet is faced with a unique set of challenges, from codec design through to play list format, countless choices need to be made. If a universal standard isn’t specified now, when the market for internet radios is in its relative infancy, manufacturers risk entering a technology war, like the Betamax/VHS war of the ‘80s. If this happens, many early adopters will end up with obsolete products – this needs to be avoided at all costs. Technology wars create market uncertainty, which hurts manufacturers, hurts broadcasters and, most importantly, hurts the consumers.”
The newly released IMDA baseline standard stipulates devices must decode both WMA and MP3 codecs; use HTTP streaming with 301 and 302 redirection; accept play list formats M3U, ASX, PLS with new line separation for URLs in plain text; and receive stereo streams via two channels or by downloading a mix of both.
The idea is to offer certification of devices as quickly as possible – Harry Johnson, chairman of the IMDA’s steering committee and president of vTuner, concluded, “internet radios bearing the IMDA certified logo will be in the shops before Christmas.”
The IMDA was launched in 2009 to develop and promote a set of open, interoperable standards and device profiles for internet connected media devices. Its steering committee comprises many of the world’s leading players in streaming media: Awox, BBC, Deutsche Welle, the European Broadcasting Union, Frontier Silicon, Global Radio, Pure, Reciva, SWR and vTuner.