Why You Should (or Should Not) Use the Yahoo! Music Engine
While Yahoo! embarks on a proper marketing and PR campaign (shouts out to Liz and Charlene), I thought I’d give you (friends, family, fellow geeks) the real story, human to human, on why you should (or shouldn’t) use the new Yahoo! Music Engine.
FWIW, my name is Ian Rogers. I used to work with Beastie Boys, for their record label Grand Royal, at Nullsoft (where Justin and Tom made Winamp, SHOUTcast, and Gnutella), and most recently had a very small company called Mediacode with my main man Rob Lord (who started IUMA and brought Nullsoft up with Justin). We sold Mediacode to Yahoo! in Dec 2003 and Y! has had us in a cave ever since building the Yahoo! Music Engine and some other stuff we can’t tell you about yet.
But down to the reason you’re reading this. I’m asking you to ditch Windows Media Player (aka WiMP, sorry John, Mark), Winamp (pour out a little liquor), iTunes (sorry Chris and Steve G), MusicMatch (apologies to my new brothers and sisters), Rhapsody (you were my first for-pay love, ya tramp), and Napster (THROW ANOTHER STACK OF BENJAMINS ON THE FIRE!), and use Yahoo! Music Engine instead. (If you’re using Foobar2000, keep on, brother man, I ain’t going to war with y’all purists.)
Here’s why you should switch to the Yahoo! Music Engine:
For the Friends/Family:
- PRICE! $5/month subscription service with subscription downloads (transfer your downloads to your subscription-capable device). Yes, this is the same set of features that Napster is charging you $15 for. This is what they call an “introductory price”, kids. Buy a year now. I’m not kidding. It ain’t going any lower than this, maybe ever. Buy now or regret missing out on the cheapest year of (legal) all-you-can-eat music ever in your life.
- Personalization! I dunno about you, but ALL the other music services and stores seem incapable of showing me music I actually want without me searching for it. Our pages are PERSONALIZED TO YOUR MUSIC TASTE. The front page for me at the moment contains The Fall, Muddy Waters, Stevie Wonder, Television, and Clikatat Ikatowi. If you know me, you know they’re doing pretty damn good.
- CHOICE! If you don’t like the idea of subscribing to your music, you can rip CDs, play downloaded music, or even spend $0.99/track if you’d like. Whatever your preference, we make it work. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING TO HAVE FUN WITH OUR PLAYER.
- Community! AOL has the most popular instant message program and not one of their 500 media apps takes advantage of it! LAMERS! Ours allows you to LISTEN TO MUSIC FROM YOUR FRIENDS via Yahoo! Messenger! LEGALLY! YOU HEARD ME! Also, you can find users with tastes similar to you, view their collections, instant message them, whateva. Rad.
- iPod support! Kinda! We support the iPod to the extent that Apple will let us — which means we support transfer of non-DRM tracks (your ripped and “imported” content) to the iPod.
- Huge catalog of the highest quality files of any paid service. Our subscription service and download store spits out dual-pass 192kbps WMA files. They sound hearty, even in my living room. And, there’s LOTS of them. Music everywhere I turn. From mainstream to obscure. 1M tracks and counting. Shatner! Fela! The Germs!
- Free, fast, MP3 (even high bitrates), AAC, Ogg, and FLAC encoding. We support the widest variety of CD encoding choices, for free.
- Smart Shuffle! Smuffle! We’ve got the best “random” in the business. “Random” is optionally based on your ratings, how recently you’ve heard something, and promotes more variety (we won’t play you the same artist back to back if possible).
For those who like to look a little deeper (aka geeks):
- Plugin support! Y! Music Engine has one-upped (or ten-upped) the media plugin space by making it easy for even your average Web developer to write and contribute plugins. More than 20 plugins are already available including plugins for Podcasting, photo sharing, and l33t sexy mini modes.
- Skin support! Y! Music Engine and Messenger can share skins, and it’s relatively easy to create new skins. I’ve got a 20 dolla bill (via PayPal) to the first person to recreate SketchAmp for me.
- FLAC and Ogg support (encode and decode) out of the box, no further mucking or installing required.
- Support for the open XSPF playlist format. We’re trying to push forward an OPEN standard for playlisting, because it’s ridiculous that it’s 2005 and we’re lacking even the basic currency for media exchange due to more than a decade of short-sighted proprietary verticals by media and software companies. This is just the start of Yahoo!’s participation in the definition of open standards to finally push the digital media industry FORWARD. *inhale*
- Geiss Visualizations! We’ve got pretty, trippy graphics for you and your graphix created by none other than Ryan Geiss, the O.G. king of media player visualizations!
- Bloat-free, 6MB Media Player (only slightly bigger than the latest Winamp). No MFC, no ATL, no GDI+, no bullshit.
- COMMAND LINE SHELL PLUGIN. Am I geek enough for ya?
Reasons not to use the Y! Music Engine:
- “I have a Mac.” God bless you. Me too. And a NeXT tattoo (I’m not kidding). Maybe someday we’ll have a player for you, too…
- “I already have 10 media players. The idea of another one makes me nauseous.” I hear ya. My crew has tried to create the reference standard media player in the Yahoo! Music Engine, the least proprietary service-enabling media player in the market. Windows Media Player wasn’t built because they care about you, they just want to sell you an OS again next year. iTunes is a trick to sell you hardware. Winamp was a utility, a hammer, contains no services, has been orphaned, and is ending its life. Rhapsody has improved 3% in 3 years. Fact is, Yahoo! is the only large company that’s actually focused on features for the user, with no alterior motives. We want users. Not only that, we want network users so we can to tie together all the services we offer. That’s our business. We’re not selling you operating systems or hardware on the side. Yahoo! Music Engine is a container for network media services. This is actually the first media player that has been built with this intention.
- “I hate change.” Wah wah. You hate fun, too?
- “I fell for the $0.99 downloads from the Apple Music Store just like I fell for the 8-Track tape once upon a time. I own ‘The Lime In The Coconut’ in both formats! You’ll pry this bottle of Pepsi, this iPod, and iTunes from my cold, dead fingers!” You need a pair of purple sneakers, kid. The $0.99 download is soooooo 2002. And expensive!
- “I hate major label music.” Me too! Yahoo! Music Unlimited actually has a ton of indie labels, and it improves weekly. Labels we have off the top of my head: Kill Rock Stars, Stones Throw, Heiro, Eastern Conference, Mr. Lady, Landspeed, Ipecac, Threshold Recordings, Kranky, K Records, Frontier, 4AD, Absolutely Kosher, Rough Trade and more and more and more. Matador, Beggars Banquet, and XL are coming in now. SubPop follows soon. New music has been pouring in on a weekly basis during our testing, and I’m told it will continue to.
- “I use Linux.” Good on ya. Keep on, young blood. Did you see that we have a COMMAND LINE SHELL plugin, though? We get some props for that at least, right?
- “Your mini mode sucks.” Heh. Yeah, that was kinda an afterthought, because we were busy building an architecture that would allow you to make ANY MINI MODE YOU’D LIKE. Check out the slick active desktop plugin that my man Stephen Owens made, or the AMAZING mini mode plugin that Gary made. You could improve on those if you’d like.
- “I hate purple.” We’re using the same skin engine that Yahoo! Messenger does. Get busy and make your own skin.
Oh it ain’t perfect. But neither are you, droopy pants. I hope you’ll give it a shot and appreciate that we’re trying to take it to the next level here. Between an incredible price, open architecture, better personalization, and integrated community, we’re really trying to move things forward.
The lion’s share of this desktop client was built by Dave Brown and Steve Heyman over the course of 2004. I think pretty much anyone who witnessed their skills over the past year is scared half to death of them. They had help along the way from Regis Nebor (French Guadaloupian Build Engineer in Germany), Danny Dulai (master of all things DShow), Scott Haynie (Captain Device Manager), Robert Porter (UPnP, Download Manager, and all around Cleaner), and Christophe Thibault (AAC enveloper and beyond). Thanks.
Web stuff was built by Mad Mike Manning‘s ace crew (big ups Pierre, Scott, Padgett, Chris, Daniel, Shawn, Brian and all y’all), and the ridiculous data back end was brought up by Hala, Christa, and their merry band of jackals. That’s a lot of data, yo.
How could I forget Roberto and the Dallas crew. Streaming mad bits. Thanks.
Speaking of Dallas, thanks to Dallas in Atlanta for the installer support, too.
I’d be remiss without mentioning the product team, but there’s too many peeps to name them all so I apologize in advance. Matt‘s been our champ and we owe you. Thanks, bro. Karin has been mom to us all. Nina and crew, can’t forget you. Tom, Tami…so many other people. Thank you all.
To our fearless leader Dave G, you’ve pushed us forward through molasses rain. Thanks.
Finally, a moment of respect for my stromie Rob “fired w/o cause” Lord. He sees the future. I love you like a god damn brother. We ain’t done yet, mang.
Thanks to anyone and everyone who read this far.
Now go download the damn thing!
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