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.
  • “I don’t like your [INSERT FEATURE HERE, SUCH AS 'My Music' library viewer, 'CD Burner', etc].” Write your own. Our plugin architecture allows you to ditch ours and write your own in the language of your choice, from C++ or C# to Javascript or VB.

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.
 
SHOUT OUTS

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!

ian

—————

News Stories:
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111584546308630894,00.html?mod=technology%5F… http://news.com.com/2061-10799_3-5703274.html http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/05/11/0114200&tid=188&tid=1… http://www.betanews.com/article/Yahoo_Music_Service_Challenges_iTunes/1115769679
http://reviews.cnet.com/Yahoo_Music_Unlimited/4505-9240_7-31383691-2.html?tag=t… http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-yahoo11may11,0,4497787.story?coll=la-home…
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-yahoo12may12,1,5640626.story?coll=la-head…
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/05/11/MNGDACNA0D1.DTL http://www.webpronews.com/news/ebusinessnews/wpn-45-20050511TheYahooMusicEngine… http://www.searchenginejournal.com/index.php?p=1700 http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2005/tc20050512_5257_tc057.htm http://news.com.com/Yahoo+to+launch+new+flagship+music+service/2100-1027_3-5701… http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB111575587704729540,00.html http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050510/wr_nm/media_yahoo_dc http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/050510/106235.html?.v=1 http://www.paidcontent.org/pc/arch/2005_05_10.shtml#013664 http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/blog/176 http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/11/technology/11yahoo.html http://www.forbes.com/technology/2005/05/10/cx_ld_0510music.html?partner=rss
http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,67495,00.html

Comments

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Congrats to you and the whole team! Time to wean myself off of ipod/itunes.

  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Wow. Wow. Very serious piece of work.

    …much more to say about this when I have time to get to know it.

  3. Ernie H. wrote:

    Congrats. I’m blastin this. Also, Beastie Boys! Wow. You learn something new about fellow co-workers every day.

    In any case – the one thing that REALLY keeps me from using YME – the small fact that I’ve already sold my soul to my iPod and the 50-100 tracks I’ve already downloaded from iTunes. The cheap Chinese bastard in me cringes about shelling $$ on music purchased from YME that won’t play on my iPod and the tunes I bought from iTunes that I can’t play on YME.

    That being said, you sell a good sell and I might be willing to spend a little more time playing around with it now that I would have previously.

  4. Guillaumeb wrote:

    Excellent review. Been playing around with it for the last three hours. Love it so far!
    However i did not seem to find any community to report eventual bugs apart from the Launchcast Yahoo group…Did I miss the link?

  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Where is the love for the Big D? Dallas streaming media engineering, that is. Ha. Nah, good on ya for the nice review and shout-outs ;-)

  6. phillip t wrote:

    hey ian, can you drop me an email pt at oreilly dot com, i’d like to follow up with ya on your post for makemagazine.com

  7. Tracy Moon wrote:

    After reading your post, I want to cancel my subscription and uninstall the friggin thing from all of my computers, just so I can follow your lead and start using it again for the first time.

  8. Anonymous wrote:

    The price is right that is for sure. But sorry I am not giving up my iPod. The rest of music players on the market suck. Plus their is is thing I have about OWNING my music. Not renting it. I don’t want my music to go away if I feel like spending my money somewhere else.
    I would rather get locked into iTunes and own the music. Then get locked into Yahoo and rent the music.

  9. Anonymous wrote:

    “I would rather get locked into iTunes and own the music. Then get locked into Yahoo and rent the music.”
    The person who said this used to work at Apple.

    For those don’t want to “rent” music, Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscribers can own the music with 79 cent permanent downloads (non-subscribers have a 99 cent permanent download option).

  10. Anonymous wrote:

    Wait, I have to spend $60 a year plus then pay .79 cents a song to burn them onto a disk? How is that cheaper than iTunes?

  11. Heiko wrote:

    Question though:
    Bloat-free, 6MB Media Player (only slightly bigger than the latest Winamp). No MFC, no ATL, no GDI+, no bullshit.
    Then why is the download wizard downloading a 16 MB file (after downloading a 5 MB wizard)? And is there a need to bundle Y! Messenger with the Music Engine?

  12. Anonymous wrote:

    itunes is so 2003, you sheep. YMP is straight pYMPin, and everyone should get on the new soul train. i’m already loaded up with my neil diamond, marilyn manson, roy clark, revolting cocks, manic street preachers mixes. nice work guys!

  13. ian c rogers wrote:

    Digital Sovereignty Enthusiasts: if you don’t like the subscription model, don’t subscribe to the subscription service. But here’s my $0.02, in case you’re interested:

    One thing is certain, five years from now we won’t be buying music in 192 AAC or WMA. So your $0.99 download is (literally) the 8-track tape of the 21st century. If “owning” and longevity is what you’re interested in, you should continue to buy CDs and rip them (using Yahoo! Music Engine, which gives you the broadest choice of encoding). Buy ‘em from Half.com. They’re affordable, uncompressed, come with pretty pictures, and you do actually own them and are free to format shift them, archive them, whatever you’d like.

    However, if what you want is access to a *lot* of music, like I do, and don’t really care about the “owning” part (I have about thousands upon thousands of CDs and vinyl and all they are is a pain in the ass every time I move) then an affodable subscription service is a pretty good way to go, at least in the short term while we get through this “pure consumer confusion” phase of digital media history.

    Hi Heiko. With respect to the size of the app, here’s the breakdown:

    The shell installer is 400K, not 5MB.
    If you don’t have the latest Windows Media Runtime, we have to install that. I can’t remember how large it is but it isn’t small. I wish this weren’t true, or smaller, or a better install, but it’s MSFT and I don’t have much control over it.
    Messenger is required, and if you don’t have it, that’s 5MB that we have to download at install time. That’s a product decision. Sorry if you don’t like it. Not my call, either.
    The YME installer is 6MB. See the screen shot in my post for proof.

    ian

  14. Anonymous wrote:

    You can “convert” your purchased iTunes tracks into MP3s by burning your purchased iTunes tracks to a CD and then ripping them back into MP3s in YME. That also gives you the ability to play them anywhere, not just in iTunes or an iPod.

  15. Heiko wrote:

    Ian, thanks for your quick feedback. Sorry for the “5 MB installer”. My bad, I actually checked the wrong file.

    What I don’t like about the install process though is that, after reboot, Messenger and Music Engine are auto-executed and are running in the systray – without having an option at installation time to turn this off or on. “Would you like to run Music Engine every time you boot your computer?” or similar would do the trick. Skype asks this question when you install. It would certainly make Music Engine look much better, imho.

  16. ian c rogers wrote:

    Correct, but you could also do that with the tracks you buy for $0.99 ($0.79 if you’re a subscriber) from Yahoo! Music Unlimited, too. That doesn’t differentiate iTunes from us. If paid download/burn is your preferred model, we do that, too, same as iTunes and at the same price or better. Yahoo! Music Engine is not *just* a subscription service, you can purchase burnable tracks, too. Point is, we give you the choice, Apple does not.

    Note also that Apple tries to lock you in to their platform in simple ways such as AAC as the default encoding format. Windows Media Player does the same thing with WMA. I know a number of people who have ripped large parts of their collection, only to find out later that it isn’t as portable as they were hoping. We rip to MP3 by default. We are not trying to play the lock-in game.

    I can hear the knee-jerk response now: but you’re using WMA! Yes, but we’re not married to it. If Apple would license us Fairplay you think we wouldn’t bite? DRM/format wars suck. DRM sucks. It’s like airport security, it punishes the good and doesn’t do much to stop the bad. We’re not making up all the rules over here, remember. We don’t own the content. Doing the best we can with what we’ve got. I hope you all can appreciate that.

    ian

  17. ian c rogers wrote:

    Thanks, Heiko. That’s good feedback. I’ll pass along to the Messenger team as well.

    Of course you can turn both of those things off from the preferences, but you’re right, it’d be nice to be given the choice at install time.

    ian

  18. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for the insight, Ian! Great stuff – far deeper than any news piece goes. – David

  19. Michael wrote:

    thanks for the detailed post…my gripes about the music services have more to do with communicating the strategy and branding confusion…you can see my post at mp.blogs.com.

    thanks,

    michael parekh
    mp.blogs.com
    michael@mparekh.com

    p.s. have been a Yahoo! user since you guys were private.

  20. CrisDias wrote:

    “Service available in the US only.”

    Oh well…

  21. Anonymous wrote:

    Ian, I have a question I was hoping you could answer.
    I currently subscribe to launchCAST, I pay monthly (3.99). I really love launchCAST because of the music it introduces me to. I am interested on having the music on demand benefits of Yahoo Music Unlimited, but would never want to give up my launchCAST station with the recommendations. My question to you is (because I have not found a straight answer anywhere else): If I sign up for Yahoo Music Unlimited, can I still play my launchCAST station? It seems like the YME has the Unlimited Service and the launchCAST service built in, but they don’t overlap in anyway. Could you please shed some light on the link between Unlimited and launchCAST for me? I would greatly appreciate it.

    -mark

  22. ian c rogers wrote:

    Hi Mark. Absolutely. Premium LAUNCHcast comes with the cost of the subscription service. So how’s that for a deal? Only $2/month more (if you buy a year up-front) and you get on-demand, too!

    Cris, sorry. The app is available world wide, the Yahoo! Music Unlimted stuff is only available in the US currently due to licensing issues. Will get it to you ASAP.

    ian

  23. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey, something interesting on 360! Thanks, Ian, for this interesting post.

  24. Anonymous wrote:

    iTMS became very successful very quickly by doing things in a stylish and palatable way. In order to make up the price difference (20 cents per track diffused over 60 dollars) you need to do a fair chunk of purchasing (300 tracks). I’m sympathetic to Apple’s desire not to open their format, ’cause it’s easy for people to throw money trying to undercut them. The price point for the subscription is nice, but you’re tethered, when listening to the music, both to your computer and to your network connection.

  25. Anonymous wrote:

    “Excellent review. Been playing around with it for the last three hours. Love it so far!
    However i did not seem to find any community to report eventual bugs apart from the Launchcast Yahoo group…Did I miss the link?”

    You can find a link to send us feedback at the bottom of the YME home page.

  26. Anonymous wrote:

    Ian, thanks so much for the quick response. It would be nice if that information was explicitly given somewhere other than this blog ;).
    But that does leave me with one more question (if you’d be so kind): What if you have already paid for a year of launchCAST radio and want to use Yahoo Music Unlimited? Is there any option to “Upgrade” your current launchCAST subscription to a Yahoo Mucis Unlimited subscription, or would you have to be paying for a service that encompases a service you are already paing for?

    My girlfriend has paid for a year of launchCAST radio, that’s why I ask.

  27. Ronen wrote:

    Honi soit qui mal y pense, aright?
    I wish this worked on my MacOS driven laptop, but I’m totally happy switching from Winamp to YME on my desktop box. This is a very cool product and hackable to the max (aaaah yeah).

  28. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey Ian,

    Personalization forever!

    I am very interested in the personalization technologies you are incorporating into the Yahoo Music Engine. I guess you could say that I am a ‘personalization geek’. I’d like to know if this is the same technology that used to be in Launch (_real_ personalization), the tech that is currently in Launch (quasi-personalization) or something new?

  29. Anonymous wrote:

    “For those don’t want to “rent” music, Yahoo! Music Unlimited subscribers can own the music with 79 cent permanent downloads (non-subscribers have a 99 cent permanent download option).”
    So then I am just stuck on Windows. Where as iTunes I can have the same library on my machine at work, and my Mac at home.
    Don’t get me wrong, Yahoo has definitly raised the competitive bar with what seems like a more expansive plug-in architecture then iTunes has. iTunes also does not have skins which I know is a issue for a small minority of people.
    But then again their is the whole iPod thing, which is arguablly the best designed music player on the market.

  30. m s wrote:

    I love the fact that you are higher quality than ITMS. I read 192kbps and thought this was going to be my new bag (baby!). Unfortunately, my eyes glossed over the “WMA” part. That does not make my day. I read: “Windows Media Player wasn’t built because they care about you, they just want to sell you an OS again next year” and said to myself “Preach on brother-mang.”

    Well, how is Y! Music using WMA going to make the world a better place? I understand the logistical nightmare of coordinating an open standard like OGG and the distaste generated by Apple’s fascist approach to encrypted AAC.

    What I don’t understand is why working with WMA is the “best” for the user. Best for the user should mean “can play on any hardware” – or at least “can play on *most* any hardware.” Assuming you’ll never make the large record companies understand DRM and why it just won’t work the way they want it to, regular MP3 files are out. There are a lot of manufactures (I’m talking portables here) that have been receptive to OGG (I mean, holy crap, can you say niche market?). If you’ve been in development for more than a year and a half, you could have worked out “the one true open standard” for online music purchase, gotten the hardware guys to build it in and let the dust settle. That is revolution. Obviously, I’ll just assume that you still would have no way of getting on to the iPod – but that’s ok. It’s one player. With some hard work and a single talented UI designer at Creative (I’m thinking Zen is closer than any other non-iPod to being usable), you could have beaten Apple with the iron fist of justice.

    I’m cool with “just wanting to make money.” I’m even cool with sacrificing a dream due to the pressure of reality. What I’m not cool with is empty rhetoric about being “all for the customer.” I would argue that Y!MS is just a new way to pimp WMA and further Windows lock-in (even spreading it to your damn portable). I think I would have been fine to just write off Y!MS had I not read your article, bought into your message and gotten all keyed-up only to be confronted with a serious let-down.

    Possibly this is all my fault. I should read more carefully the first time. This is why skimming and speed reading are bad techniques – it causes you to get upset when you miss important details on the first pass. Oh well, just another music service I won’t use that enough people will love so that it persists long enough to nettle me into ulcers.

    Dammit, now I need a brandy and soda just to cool off before lunch.

  31. Andrew S wrote:

    Or you know… you could download any type of file at any bitrate you want… for pennies per album… *legally* from someplace like allofmp3.com. You could even play it on you iPod *or* iRiver… or you could burn it to a CD… or DVD… or put it on as many of your players/computers as you’d like…

    hmmmmmm…..

    What to do, what to do……?

  32. Anonymous wrote:

    Okay, Ian… I work for a competitor, but I still gotta say that you rock:
    - Kickass post.
    - Great alma mater (Hoosiers!)
    - Smart comments about the benefits of subscriptions.

    And on the latter… I wish more people (and not just suits) would substantively contribute to the conversation about the benefits (and admittedly drawbacks) of subscriptions. Someone’s gotta drown out the Mac/iTunes fanboys (no disrespect intended towards the Mac platform and iTMS/iTunes goodness… just the rabid fanboys).

    As a musician myself, I truly believe that subscriptions are the best way for people to discover and share cool music discoveries… and ultimately, the best way for independents to get noticed AND get paid. I hope that people are soon able to see past the limitations of the famous 99 cent download…

    Anyway, thanks much for your post, and congrats on your hard work. I look forward to checking out YME so I can steal ^H^H^H^H check out all neat stuff you’ve done.

  33. Hob wrote:

    The YME subscription service rocks — really makes it easy to check out new artists. It’s definitely the way to go for music junkies.
    Great work!

  34. Anonymous wrote:

    I can now understand why people say “bloggers are trusted better than the mainstream user”. You work for yahoo, but somehow I don’t feel threatened or manipulated by your enthusiasm for Yahoo 360! Too bad that I live in a country the US has decided must not participate in e-commerce!

  35. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey Ian, I see how much work you’ve put in to make this project great and I really appreciate it. As far as I know, Yahoo is the only Windows Media subscription service that doesn’t actually let you rip your music to the patented, DRM-locked Windows Media format. You can’t interpret that as anything other than pure respect for your user base, and built-in OGG and FLAC support is really going the extra mile to support all the formats that people really want to use.

    However, I agree with other posters here that the Windows Media format just doesn’t make sense. If you wanted people to be able to play Yahoo-purchased music everywhere, you’d make it available in the format that everyone can listen to, and you know what that is: MP3. Yes, major record labels wouldn’t like it, but if you had went and bought out EMusic it would have made a major statement that Yahoo is devoted to nothing but their users. Simply taking the RIAA’s bait and accepting DRM shows that no matter how much the programmers and web service people care, the suits are the ones making the rules. So call me a Communist or a hippie, but I’m afraid I won’t be switching to Yahoo any time soon.

  36. VJ wrote:

    very thorough. nearly convincing. I’m one of those buy the actual cd, rip it in 192 myself and archive it for use on my digital devices. Itunes replaced my winamp because it did a few more things I wanted. I used it to rip the last 15 cd’s or so out of laziness.

    I may just d/l it as my ripper, *but* can it be set up to keep my files organized?

    I name the files consistently so it works on my old car HU, use v1 and v2 tags to make sure that the ‘pod or the newer HU knows what i’m playing as well. I’ve only d/l from ITMS when I won it off diet pepsi. Will it replace my beloved cdex in a streamlined way?

  37. Anonymous wrote:

    Here’s what it comes down to. I can’t play WMA on my iPod. Or on my Linux box. Or on my Mac. iTunes is marginally better because it works on both PCs and Macs, but it’s still missing the boat.

    The reality is that people buy MP3 players to play MP3s (!).

    “One thing is certain, five years from now we won’t be buying music in 192 AAC or WMA. So your $0.99 download is (literally) the 8-track tape of the 21st century.”

    And your subscriptionized download is the 8-track rental of the 21st century, that doesn’t work in the most popular 8-track player! That’s why most people still buy CDs and rip them, or just download the MP3s illegally. In either case you’re getting equal or better quality, no platform lock-in, and content that doesn’t expire. Until you can compete with that, this is all academic.

  38. Josette wrote:

    um, this got me a little excited. is that good?

  39. Michael wrote:

    Ian, branding quesiton…is it yahoo music engine or yahoo music unlimited?

    thanks,

    michael

  40. Fabricio Zuardi wrote:

    Nice post! Made me download the player to test, I am not eligible to buy songs or subscribe to the service, but the biased shuffle thing seems good.

    I know its beta software, and my requests so far are for better defaults. 10 seconds cross fade is just too much, start with the OS is not good and the “mini” mode is too big.

    The shuffle is a little buggy, the previous track button should send me to the last played track not shuffle again.

    Anyways, congrats for the launch!

  41. Anonymous wrote:

    Michael — Yahoo! Music Engine is the application. Yahoo! Music Unlimited is the subscription service, one of the many services offered within the Engine.

  42. Anonymous wrote:

    Great stuff Ian! Congrats!
    http://www.itsbeach.com

  43. Peter Durfee wrote:

    Shrug. You don’t work with my computers, with my portable players, and with the market in my country of residence. (Well, not even Apple’s been able to do that. I don’t blame you for that last one, but it’s still a fact that keeps me from even giving this service a second thought.)

    Best of luck with the service, though!

  44. Peter Durfee wrote:

    @ TwisterMc: “Wait, I have to spend $60 a year plus then pay .79 cents a song to burn them onto a disk? How is that cheaper than iTunes?”

    It is cheaper once you buy your 301st track. :)

  45. Tracy Moon wrote:

    Why I Love Yahoo Music Unlimted!

    I am typing this as I listen to an album that I would have never taken the time to listen to before. A person recently mentioned an album and I easily pulled it up on YMU while they were still talking about it. I hit the button to add it to my library and I returned my full attention to the person that I was talking to. I can listen to the album later, so it reminds me of my TiVo in moments like that.

    I am no stranger to piracy. Like everyone else, I love free shit. If there was a new P2P, I was usually one of the first in my circle of friends to use it. Those days are over. I grew tired of assembling albums and living with differing bitrates while my bandwidth was shot to hell. Do I still download things? Hell yeah, I love free shit. I took my crime elsewhere. Things are too uncomfortable in the P2P scene for my taste. Now I spend $20 a month for a newsgroup service that rocks, and doesn’t eat all my bandwidth.

    Here is the thing, for about $15 less than I spend to steal things from newsgroups, I now subscribe to YMU. With my YMU subscription, I can find most of the music that I would have had to hunt in newsgroups for before they dissappeaared. In YMU it only takes a few clicks and I have a full album at a consistent bitrate. Best of all, I have no fear of getting a letter from the RIAA now, and I can use my bandwidth to steal anything other than music. P-)

    I bought a Creative Zen Micro that I can fill with tracks that I didn’t buy. Nothing has changed, I am still getting free shit. Ok, I paid for a subscription, but at this point in my life, $5 a month ain’t shit. $5 won’t even buy a full album on iTunes. Some people seem to be thrown by having to subscribe to get the burnable tracks at $.79. They can still pay $.99 if they don’t subscribe, just like on iTunes.

    Unlike iTunes and the short clips of songs that they use to tease you (and aren’t always the best part of the song), as a YMU subscriber, I can listen to the whole song. Hell, I can even throw it on my Zen and listen to it for a full year on my current subscription before deciding to purchase it in the $.79 burnable format. Now that is a preview!

    “If I change subscription services I can’t take the files with me” If you change subscription services, just download the subscription songs there like you did at the other subscription service, that is the benefit of subscribing. “I would rather own my music, not rent it” The songs I rented are going to sound the same as the songs I purchased, until my subsciption runs out. By then, some crackhead will have stolen my Zen and my PC hard drive may have died in any of the million ways they die. For a limited time, my rented tracks will be with the crackhead that stole my Zen or on the departed hard drive with Elliott Smith in heaven. I can always go back and download my subscription tracks wihtout paying per track again. And really, the five CDs that the subscription-holdouts purchased with their $60 will have been stolen or scratched by that point too, with no way of replacing them without spending more money.

    “I can’t use it with my iPod” Think different you sheep, and bail on the Apple/iTunes monopoly. Sell it on eBay, or better yet, give it to the crackhead above so that he doesn’t have to steal my Zen that is full of music that I didn’t pay $.99 a track for.

  46. Anonymous wrote:

    Your blog entry is a great marketing job, so congrats, you hooked me. However, when I go to download I get an error message about needing a DRM update. Not surprisingly, the help doesn’t have an answer to this confusion yet. Considering it installed WMP stuff when it installed I’m surprised by this. I also tried windowsupdate but they didn’t have anything with labels connected to that kind of thing except WMP 10 which I want to avoid downloading. Any pointers to a download or fix that will correct this so I can start listening to new music would be greatly appreciated.

  47. md wrote:

    Alison, can you do us a favor and try quitting YME and restarting. There is this REALLY obnoxious MSFT security dialog, that we don’t control, that pops up and requires a restart. Unfortunately, we can’t change the messaging to tell the user what’s going on… Good job MSFT. I’m betting restarting the app will solve your problem.

  48. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks md, however it is not a popup error message and restarting the app didn’t change it. In the info column of the download manager it says ‘License Request Error 0x8004D38B (The client does not have the DRM’ (it goes on but I’m not going to play with column widths again to get it).

  49. ian c rogers wrote:

    Hi Alison, somehow the latest Windows Media Format SDK didn’t get installed on your system during installation. I’m not sure why, but I’ll talk to our pals at MSFT about why this might fail and how we might catch this. What *should* work for you is to install the latest Windows Media Player 10 *shudder* and then run YME. Installing the latest WMP10 will insure that you have the security patches you need to play these tracks.

    Just in from seeing Gogol Bordello (GYPSY PUNK!), will read/respond to all the other queries in the morning.

    ian

  50. rich wrote:

    The problem is if I stop paying you, the music goes away. I could rather currently stick to my current combo of CDs, eMusic and iTunes. That way I do not have to worry about music I like going away when I stop paying a monthly fee.

  51. Silensy wrote:

    yTunes is totally awesome. But what about those of us who already pay $30 for Launch? Can we upgrade to Yahoo! Music Unlimited? Or are we out $90 total?

  52. Anonymous wrote:

    md and ian, I went to bed too. When I came back to it today and hit play on a song instead of downloading it to my music it prompted me to download the Microsoft update. It was disconcerting tome not to have a message of some sort letting me know the progress of the download or installation, but once I closed the app and restarted it things worked, so there was no need to download WMP10. Thanks for the responses, Yahoo should blog every new release like this!

  53. Anonymous wrote:

    Ian:

    Great post. Here are some of my own thoughts…

    THE GOOD:

    **Huge** library of music. This isn’t just the latest pop/hip hop/rap music crap. My jaw nearly dropped when I saw the number of Sinatra and Johnny Cash albums available on yTunes. I recently became a fan of Sinatra/Cash, and found the prospect of obtaining all of their albums quite daunting. There’s also a great selection of classical music.

    **Price** What can you say about the price? It is dirt cheap. Of course, anyone with half a brain knows that Yahoo will jack up the prices after they’ve put Napster out of business and bought out Real.com. The usual predatory corporate pricing. I love capitalism.

    THE BAD:

    This encourages and furthers the trend to put everyone on monthly payments for just about everything we buy/consume. Unless you struck it rich early on in life, your best strategy for accumulating wealth for a comfortable retirement is save money and invest it. People often do not understand that all those “only $9.95 a month!” payments add up to serious money over a 10 to 20 year period.

    THE UGLY:

    **iPod** I love my little iPod Mini – I got it free from Citibank, for signing up for one of their checking accounts. It is a few ounces, works great with my large library of CDs, as well as Audible books, and plays in my car. Sorry, but you can’t convince me that the ugly junk that is currently compatible with yTunes even approaches the ease, conmfort and overall look and feel of the iPod. Without iPod comptability, I’ll only be able to listen to yTunes from my desktop.

    I realize the iPod issue isn’t Yahoo’s fault, but the problem is still there. I’ve found the biggest appeal to the iPod is it reduces the clutter in my life. I no longer have piles of CDs floating around in my car seat, glove compartment, etc. I no longer have to screw around taking CDs in and out of my home stereo. Everything ins consolidated into this one little device.

    THE VERDICT:

    Notwithstanding the iPod issue, I will probably be signing up for the year subscription. What is $60 these days, anyway? Maybe a good meal at a restaurant, which will be crapped out of your system a few hours later.

    I see this as an opportunity to have a cheap “try before you buy” library available. In fact, I don’t see music rentals and music purchasing to necessarily be at odds. Look at DVDs… we rent the ones we only want to see once, and purchase the ones we really love and want to see again and again.

    Hopefully the iPod issue can be resolved in the near future.

  54. Anonymous wrote:

    This will seem like a simple question, but here goes. On the YME there is a link to a list of “Popular Devices”. Am I limited to those devices? I ask because I know the Napster thingy actually confined you to a list of 4 or 5 devices. At least at first. I would like to be able to use a Dell Jukebox with it. Possible?

  55. patgod wrote:

    Ian, congrats on the launch! Very cool. I’ve tried it out briefly and loved what I saw/heard, but can’t wait to sink my teeth into the app more at a later time. Any chance of a mac client?

  56. Bob C wrote:

    Damn boy, you go now. Ima get this soon. I’m currently spamming my friends with this now to spread the joy.

  57. wayne wrote:

    Ian – Congratulations on this project. It’s an impressive product for a 1.0, sure it will get much better. Apparently you still rule the internet.

    Here are some of my considerations as an older (well over 30), “niche” (jazz) listener that currently pays the 9$ plan for Rhapsody (perhaps not for much longer) and owns an iPod. –

    *the ipod issue. I have 20,000 tracks of my own, ripped from CDs. (I suspect what has hurt the music industry over the past few years is not only stealing but people finally listening to their own collections of purchased music.) While I occasionally listen to new release albums on Rhapsody and discover new things I’d perhaps like to listen to while walking around on the ipod, I can live with having my desktop be one source of music and the ipod being drawn from my collection. This is probably the opposite of a teenager that discovers a new song or album and listens to the same album 100x in the car, on the ipod, at home, before moving to the next thing.

    *192 – This is a huge positive for me. I’m one of those audio snob people that can tell the difference between 128 and 192 and certainly 256. I’ve purchased tunes from the ITMS and it is the worst sounding stuff on my ipod. For me the 128 vs 192 is the difference between listening to something on speakers and listening to it on headphones.

    *Selection – From a casual survey of the jazz selection, right now Rhapsody seems to be a bit better, but not radically so.

    *Related content – When viewing an artist’s albums Rhapsody has “compilations” and “other”. So if their songs appear on a soundtrack you’ll see that. And, very important for jazz, the “other” section features albums by other artists that they appear on. So for Herbie Hancock, it will also list some (but not all) of the Miles Davis records he played on. This feature is the difference between showing 10 albums for an artist and 30, so it can be a big deal.

    *Minor interface things – Rhapsody has some clunkers in the interface, but a few things I like. For example, I use the “related albums” feature a lot, sometimes the whole day I go from album to album this way. Yahoo has this also, but there are no thumbnails for the album covers. One annoying thing about Rhapsody is I have bookmarked hundreds of albums in my “library” – but I can’t export that to a text file for say printing on a visit to the local music retailer.

    *Credits and info – I often really would love to know who is playing drums on the albums I listen to, but I have to copy and paste from the player into a web browser to allmusic.com to find out. (ITMS doesn’t let you copy for some reason from the application!). I know MSN music uses allmusic for album reviews – which are fine – but I haven’t seen a service that uses their database for album credits, which is what I want. I know this is probably another jazz-centric thing, but it would be a big deal if YME offered it. (I read that ITMS has some “electronic liner notes” when you buy certain albums, so maybe this is not far off.)

    OK those are my impressions. Again, great work – this is a big thing giving this market a healthy kick in the ass.

  58. Razvan wrote:

    Ian, Yahoo Music Engine is crashed by Windowsblinds and perhaps this happens with Style XP. Took me 2 day of frustration to figure out what was blocking it. One of the problems is that it doesn’t have a classic skin like Yahoo Messenger so it can be skinned by those apps. Pls forward that to the dev team.

    In rest….a cute toy :)

    I used to use audioscrobbler for social music networking but know I am willing to give YME a chance :)

    The MAIN difference between YME and WiMP is that WiMP has a huge database behind it that allows quick tagging of my MP3s. Half of my regular bands are not listed on YME and that’s a pitty. I understand that is a product targeted to US market….but still there is across the ocean another piece of land with a different musical taste

    Keep rocking guys ;)

  59. ian c rogers wrote:

    Hi all, sorry I haven’t replied for so long. Had to catch up on work and email at some point. Not really any fires burning here, but I’ll respond to a few things:

    a) It’s interesting to me how all the discussions on all sitess (particularly /. and cnet) quickly degenerate to “grr DRM pfft WMA hrnt!” I guess I understand, I dislike DRM as much as the next person. It’s certainly not something that user are asking for. In a way it’s good to get that reminder from the community at large. The problem people don’t seem to appreciate is how difficult it is to actually license all the content, and that Yahoo! is not making all the rules when it comes to these licenses. If we had an MP3 service, we’d be limited to the selection of, say, eMusic, and then we’d get blasted for not having top 40 artists. I do think an “MP3 where possible” subscription service would be interesting, though then you’d add yet another layer of rights complexity to an already encumbered application (many of the design challenges lie around what rights do you have for a given track at a given time). Anyhow, please understand that this is simply where we are with the license holders at the moment, and if the climate changes to a more rights-generous system, we’ll be the first to move with it. We want to lead here, not follow, but we also want to provide you with a broad selection of popular music for a varied audience which certainly includes mainstream listeners. Delicate balance. But your thoughts are appreciated and we’ll continue to be progressive here. Also please appreciate the point I made earlier that if you don’t want to subscribe or buy tracks in WMA we completely respect that. Continue to buy CDs and rip them with YME into the format of your choice. There’s no question that provides you with the widest variety of options for portability.

    b) VJ, I too was a CDex user until YME. I think you’ll be happy with it, we have some flexibility in how we name and tag your files, but certainly not as much as CDex. Personally I’m happy with YME as a CDex replacement, but I admit I’m still a bit frustrated at how we handle CDs with multiple artists. I get a CD every month with my Mojo mag subscription and they’re a bit of a pain to rip the way I’d like to with YME. Looking to fix that in a future release. Anyway, let me know how it goes.

    c) Boilermaker Josette: yes. That is good.

    d) Michael: the player is the Yahoo! Music Engine, the subscription service is Yahoo! Music Unlimited.

    e) Fabricio: Zoe agrees with you on the 10 second x-fade. I think we actually changed it but not in time for this final build. So that’ll definitely be changed in the next point release.

    f) Peter: you don’t pay $60/year then $0.79/track for the subscription downloads or streams. Those are free in unlimited quantities so long as you’re paying for your subscription. If you decide you want to “own” a track or burn it to CD, then you need to pay $0.79 for that permanent license.

    g) Tracy: this is exactly the scenario Dave G has been talking about. We’re competing with free services which is difficult but it is possible. The low price point sure helps.

    h) RHT: that’s cool. I support that. Do you agree that the iTunes music store has no advantage over us in your model, though? People don’t seem to appreciate that this is not a “subscription only” product. We have a la carte downloads, too. And CD rip/encode to/from a hell of a lot more and friendlier formats than iTunes does.

    CONT’D…

  60. ian c rogers wrote:

    i) GDR: thanks for the comments. Why didn’t Sinatra and Cash do anything together? That would have been “so fucking hot”, to use the words of Pat O’Brien. We will xfer MP3s to your iPod Mini if you’d like us to, but no subscription tracks, so I understand where you’re coming from. And no, I’m not going to try to convince you that any of the subscription devices out there are as good as the iPod. I will tell you that a couple of them are “good enough”, though. Zoe listens to her Zen Micro for at least 4 hours every day and loves it. The first day she took it to school one of the kids in her math class said, “Oh I read about that in a magazine — I heard it’s *way* better than the iPod.”

    Adam L: The “compatible devices” thing is tricky. Here’s the details from the help pages: http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/music/yme/yme-38.html Dell Jukebox doesn’t support subscription content. The Dell DJs do, though. I highly recommend the Pocket DJ. It’s basically a Zen Micro that isn’t as cute (doesn’t glow) but has a way better interface.

    Wayne my man: Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I agree with you across the board, but I don’t suppose that surprises you. We use the AMG data, too (that’s what you see when you click to get a review). Would be awesome to include the personel data there, too, especially if it was cross-reference-able. Would be good to see you, homey. It’s been years.

    Razvan: thanks for the comments. I’d love to see a ‘scrobbler plugin for YME. I think we heard about the Windowblinds problem from QA, I believe it’s an issue in the skin engine. I’ll check with Stephen and see what the story is. Can you confirm for me that Messenger doesn’t work correctly, either? This would definitely tell us that the skin engine has something to do with it.

    Aight. I should really get some sleep. Before I do, let me just send a hearty THANK YOU out to each and every one of you who read this blog, passed it around, tried out YME, gave some feedback, and are helping us make the product better. The response to this posting has been tremendous, far more than I’d ever have imagined. This is always my favorite time of building an app, when you’ve left the lab and the conference room and are hearing the opinions of REAL PEOPLE who are trying to use the app to do something beautiful: enjoy music. Excellent to share it with you all.

    Night,
    ian

  61. ian c rogers wrote:

    Before going to sleep I’d like to apologize for my poor spelling, grammar, and sentence structure in the above comments. I didn’t realize you couldn’t edit (only remove) your own comments and didn’t bother to proof read. I’m a jackass, but I’m not (quite) illiterate.

    ian

  62. Razvan wrote:

    Ian, on the Windowsblinds issue :)

    on yahoo messenger i have the option to use a classic skin. In that case i can use my regular blinds skin. If I let Indigo or Maverick it works fine. The issue I see is that YME doesn’t have a classic option and the current skin is a default one.

    I just can wait for an audioscrobbler plugin….or yahoo can buy it like in Flickr case :) it will make a great addition to 360 :P

  63. Anonymous wrote:

    Long-time Rhapsody customer here who was about to renew my subscription. Nice timing on the launch. Thanks for saving me some $$ and building a great beta product. I’m already browsing Zen Micro listings on eBay. We’re noticing some bugs over here – but no more than Rhapsody 3.0. Great work.

    A great Rhapsody feature I’d like to see implemented here, perhaps through a plug-in:

    - Not My Music. Not Playlists. Something in between. Essentially the organization and collection tools from My Music, but without the need to download the files. I don’t have a compliant portable at this time (iPod), and would prefer not to download all of the files in My Music. But I like all of the features for browsing and organization. Playlists aren’t robust enough. Seems like this would be easy.

    Am I missing something? Other than the need to cut down on your streaming costs?

    Does Rhapsody just hide the download and they do it anyway for everything in my library? Yahoo is doing the same thing, just being more transparent with what’s actually happening?

    Thanks,
    Eric

  64. ian c rogers wrote:

    Hey Eric, We’ve already got you covered there! This is actually a hidden feature of Yahoo! Music Engine. Check out Preferences- Y! Unlimited- “When I add a selection to My Music”, “Bookmark It”. That’s what you’re looking for. Not only does it not download the files (save on disk space) but the tracks will show up in My Music when you login from a different location, too. Very cool.

    The reason this isn’t the default is because portability is one of the key features of the app, and we didn’t want people to be confused by introducing *another* type of file (a stream) into My Music for the novice user. Excellent power user feature, though. Have at it.

    Razvan, you’ve confirmed for me that this is a skin issue, then. I’ll talk to Stephen and see if there’s anything we can do for the Gold release.

    Four hours of sleep is fine,
    ian

  65. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks, Ian. “Bookmarking” is a perfect name for the feature. That’s how I think of it. Found it, and made the switch. Nice choice on making it a power user feature. Keep up the great work.

  66. Anonymous wrote:

    Ok a few things when are you going to add Lightscribe suport
    (www.lightscribe.com)
    Lightsribe is direct disk printing using the drives laser and a lightsenetive screenprinted ‘Label’.I have a HP 640i drive and it looks like this technolgy is ripe for a music download service wjere you put artwork and track listings right on the disk no more sharpies .The Music Industry will luv it to so they can enscribe all theier copyright and DRM info around the edge of the disk.

  67. Anonymous wrote:

    ooops wheres the Yahoo Group for Yahoo Music Engine

  68. Anonymous wrote:

    FLAC?!? I can’t believe you said FLAC. With over 500,000 FLAC songs in my archive, that alone is going to make me tell everyone on Windows to use Yahoo Music. THANK YOU for supporting that. ( — Derek Sivers from CD Baby)

  69. ian c rogers wrote:

    Hrm. Guess my post from this morning didn’t make it…

    Hey Derek, thanks for the note. I’m a fan of CD Baby. Good to her from you.

    Matt, there’s no user group for Y! Music Engine yet, should we create one? There is a developer group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ymedev/

    ian

  70. Anonymous wrote:

    Ian you say you want YME to have a Community but theres no place for the user to post if they need help with YME ,or bugs like I found( Havnet been able to reproduse it agan).
    Yahoo Help and customer support is notorius for not being helpful to the average user and if the Devs are monitoring a Yahoo group you may see a problem thats easy to fix or a recuring issue that needs fixing .Google has groups for its beta proucts and a problem or issue may be resolved by other members of the group thus not tying up Yahoo’s or the developers time .Peer Impact has a beta forum and the developers are there all the time explianing how things work and resolving bugs ect .

    People like me will just post on the Dev group and tell you how we broke your program .

  71. Anonymous wrote:

    Ian any idea if you will support Lightscribe .

  72. Anonymous wrote:

    Have been using YME for a few days now and love it. I use it at work, so the mini mode plugin rocks.

    The question about ‘upgrade’ from LaunchCast plus to YMU was not answered. The argument made is that it is only $2 more per month, but is it truly $2 extra, or perhaps $5 in addition?

    Also, any idea if YMU is going to be offered as a service with SBC Yahoo DSL? Or if it is going to become a part of Y! Plus package?

  73. ian c rogers wrote:

    Hey USC, it’s $2 extra. The Y! Music Unlimited subscription includes LAUNCHcast.

    I’m not sure exactly what the SBC plans are. I’ll ask my man David who is in charge of that and see if he can post an answer.

    Matt, the bottom of the FAQ page has a “send feedback” link which customer care and QA are monitoring very very closely. Please use it:

    http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/music/yme/troubleshooting/index.html

    I’ll also see about setting up a group for non-dev users.

    ian

  74. Anonymous wrote:

    Ian, thanks for the quick response.

    I understand that YMU includes LC Plus, but if I am already a member of LC Plus, is there a place I could just ‘upgrade’ the LC plus sub to YMU sub? Or do I have to cancel that sub and apply for YMU?

    I will pose the same questions on the feedback link.

  75. ian c rogers wrote:

    Hi USC,

    I’m told the upgrade will happen automatically for you.

    ian

  76. Anonymous wrote:

    Oooh…that’s nice! Add me to the list of highly excited ondemand-demanding customers :-)

  77. Anonymous wrote:

    I second the comment about support. I am having a problem with a license error on one of my PCs, logged it to the feedback form, (twice), and hear deafening silence. I’ve searched for the error on the web, and haven’t found an applicable solution.

    I do realize its beta, and I signed up for a year, but I’d like it to work on my laptop and desktop.

    Thanks

  78. Anonymous wrote:

    Some Licence errors can be fixed on most Janus enabled music stores by upgrading to Windows media 10 .Others like licence exceeded limit are a known M$ issue and happens+ with PeerImpact also

    If you want customer service Peer Impact gives it but its a pay per download p2p model

    Looks like yahoo’s customer support is still treating YMU customers like they are Messenger users looking at the various postings around the web..

  79. md wrote:

    Hey guys, the main way to send in your support questions is through the Send us feedback link on the YME Home page. As we are still beta, we are still tracking issues and still getting our FAQs in place. I can say that our customer care team is busting their ass to read the queues. We are also working on setting up a public Y! group for feedback as well. For now, let’s keep using Ian’s blog :-)

  80. Anonymous wrote:

    With all due respect, “tracking issues”, and “reading the queue” is only part of it. Answering the issues, and emptying the queue is the point. How long does it take to set up a Public Y! group? Minutes. I’ve been having a license issue for days, and don’t see any response. What kind of support will exist while not in beta? Yahoo should really beef up support, I see the same response when I have a mail or domain problem, and its frustrating. All the services are great, but in all cases, when there is a problem, you are on your own.

    I really have to emphasise.. I really like yahoo music unlimited, am trying to participate like a beta tester, but am not seeing the problem resolution.

    The problem I am having is License error 0xC000D2751

  81. Anonymous wrote:

    Matt the problem is only a handfull of people can use Ians Blog .Head over to http://www.peerimpact.com/community/ and look how a little start up can give better customer support than the big guys and they respond within a day to resolve a problem and they credit back your account promptly also.

    Customer Support is what is going to win the people over when they use a music store if they cant get licence issues resolved becuse you havnt had your weekly conference call with Microsoft to get those issues resolved its not the customers fault .If they cant get execllent service they will go elsewhere or just go back to commiting copyright infingement.

  82. Kent Brewster wrote:

    Holy cow this thing just plain ROCKS. Two marriages ago I gave up much of the music I grew up loving … but it’s running on my desktop right now. Marvelous work, you guys.

  83. md wrote:

    The public y! group is live at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/yme-feedback/

    Please feel free to join!

  84. Lhys wrote:

    This was written ages ago but I’m only reading it now… so cope with it. :)
    I’ve installed Y!ME on my office computer (yes, we’re allowed to listen to music all day long) a couple of months back and since then I haven’t used any other player here. It actually made me get a purple wallpaper to match with it, since I’m not stopping to build up a new skin.
    So I’m all happy with my Y!ME (also because I looove my LaunchCast) and I tell my friend (iPod owner who bounces from W(i)MP and iTunes) through MSN (I know absolutely no one who uses Y!M, so I’ve stopped trying) that I’m using Y!ME and all he can say is “Yeah, and you’re the only one”. Yeah, and I’m the only one who’d pick another player over an iPod too.

  85. Anonymous wrote:

    I really do like Yahoo Music Unlimited and the Yahoo Music Engine a lot. The main reason for me cancelling was even though I deactivated the other computers, I could not save tracks on another computer. I could not even use a third computer even though it states I can use up to three. I have four computers and this is a great feature, but I’m dissapointed it did not work. Eventually I could not even play a song (streaming) with my account even though all of the other computers had been deactivated. There should be an option to “deactivate all other computers except the one I am currently using.” Maybe this would solve the issue of formatting, unistalling the app, and other stuff that could happen. I will definitely return at a later date and continue my subscription then to see if this issue had been fixed. Also, the page loading times have improved with the latest build (114), but still could use improvement. A tabbed interface would be helpful. Also, supporting mouse gestures would immediately have me back and paying. A way of cacheing the pages would be entire acceptable way of speeding up searches etc. I do not like performing a search, going to the artist page and then having it reinitiate the search when I press “back.” I did the search once, I shouldn’t have to perform it again in the same session. If it opened a seperate search tab that would remedy this option as well as if it simply cached searces and other things. When going to my music and then back to Y! Unlimited it should not have to reload Y! Unlimited. This is a major downfall in the design of the application. Tabs would instantly remedy this issue. Oh, I almost forgot! Why can’t it remember my table settings and resize frames settings? I don’t want it to show the genre… ever… so why does it keep reappearing. In the preferences I should be able to set what columns I want showing in each of the areas (Y! Unlimited, My Music, etc). I should be able to resize the album art frame and have it stay that way. The album art being organized by album alphabetically is kinda annoying. It would be better to organize it by artist first then by album name and/or release date. I’m sure there are more improvements that could be made, but I have not thought of them yet. I will look for a project forum to also post this to. If you need to contact me though you may at GhostSection9@yahoo.com . I know it is really easy to point out faults, but your do truely have a great piece of software even though it sounds like I do not like it. I have tried every player out there and as far as a subscription service Yahoo Music Unlimited has been the best by far.

  86. Travis Reeder wrote:

    YME really is great, a bit buggy still, but i love the personalization features and the launchcast radio.

  87. Travis Reeder wrote:

    But why the heck does it use port 8080?? Such a pain.

  88. Anonymous wrote:

    It sure sounds like a great service, doesn’t it? Well, it is, unless you run into a technical issue and require customer service. Then you discover two things: A service department stuck in the dark ages, who won’t actually read your e-mails, but rather respond with generic form e-mail responses; There’s no published phone number so you can get assistance from a non-”Cylon.”

    Ian, and comrades– All your creative hard work done in by typical Big-Corporate lack of dedication to customer support. Napster & Rhapsody’s higher cost is beginning to look a lot more reasonable to me! Especially if I go into a third week paying for a service that isn’t working. — Rich

  89. Anonymous wrote:

    first off, i love YME; especially the subscription service…also, great review, ian

    one bug really gets me, however…many times the service associates my music with the wrong album cover, song and launchcast rating…this greatly detracts from the value of the service, especially re: ratings…editing the metadata doesn’t seem to help

    so question to ian (or anyone else who can answer) is there a way to break or, even better, edit the link between any given song and its online match…any advice, plug-in, etc would be much appreciated…tried customer service, but no response

    thanks much

  90. Anonymous wrote:

    Ian– With all due respect, I can’t believe you fell for Yahoo’s “send feedback” link b.s.I’m sure, as someone instrumental with the development of Y! Unlimited, it was reassuring to you that Yahoo would be backing it up with quality customer service. But listen to the actual experiences of the end users– A simple link does not = actual customer service. Given your postition, you have a choice to either be a cheerleader for Yahoo or stand up & tell them that this lack of attention to service issues paid customers are experiencing is intolerable. And such inattention to customer service always bites back in the marketplace.

    Just ask eBay sellers. eBay’s customer service was almost as bad as Yahoos has traditionally been. Frustration & anger built up to a boiling point, until eBay was forced to do costly damage control. Their inattention had let a wildfire rage out of control. Now eBay sellers are on a first name basis with the new president of U.S. operations. And remember, Ian– eBay doesn’t face stiff competition like Y! Unlimited does.

    And, to “MD”, re: your comment: ” I can say that our customer care team is busting their ass to read the queues.”

    MD, aren’t you just saying here that these people are doing what they’re paid to do– To work hard? To someone who can’t get these reps to respond with anything but the same generic form e-mail over & over again, to someone who can’t get anyone to actually read the support issue sent to them, the fact that this understaffed department puts their hours in isn’t reassuring. — Rich

  91. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi, I’ve been using the music engine today and it consumes 130Mb of memory. Someone there should look for a memory leak.

  92. Anonymous wrote:

    I’ve been using YME for the last few days and it already has changed my entire music setup. Its just an amazing piece of work. Before I run out and drop $200+ on an iriver, I want to know if I can download subscription music to it as long as I have an active YMU account or do the tracks “expire” after a year of use. Again, Great Work! I look forward to all the new goodies. Chris.

  93. Anonymous wrote:

    Chris– Before you make any other financial commitment (in hardware or long-term subscriptions) you might want to check the user reviews at CNET for Yahoo’s Music Engine:

    http://www.download.com/Yahoo-Music-Engine-beta/3000-2166_4-10393407.html?tag=lst-0-1

    I’ve seen the same sentiment all over the web, & it’s astounding for a company with such resources at its disposal. For all practical purposes, customer support doesn’t exist– Considering we’re talking about software they freely admit is “buggy,” this is a curious error in judgment.

    This is going to fall flat on its face. Much as I would prefer rooting for a company I’ve been a customer of for years, Yahoo just isn’t in this to win. They entered the game late, and their competition is just too good. I give Y! Unlimited until the end of the year. — Rich

  94. sytelus wrote:

    One reason why I should NOT is this: It doesn’t have any way to provide customer feedback. Looks like you guys don’t want to be bothered by what customer wants.

  95. Eric T wrote:

    First let me start by saying thanks to the people who created the Yahoo Music Service and the Yahoo Music Engine. Having been in software developer for more than 20 years, I know how hard it is to get something like this going.

    My favorite part of using this has been transferring files to a Zen Micro. It was almost too easy. For the most part, I am pretty happy with the whole service, yet there are a few things that need lots of work. Actually they need to be tossed out with the bath water.

    I have been trying to get the following feed back to the developers, but as we know, the layers in between seem to fear talking with developers at a technical level.

    1. Using XML as a database is a performance problem. I currently have one media.ydb at almost 5 Meg.
    a. When I reinstall the YME because of problems associated with the beta, it takes more than an hour to rebuild the XML file.
    b. When the database gets out of sync with the actual files, I get duplicate entries for songs. One will be a subscription and the other will be a stream. It takes hours to get them back in sync, when it is possible. Lately I have resorted to just having the YME rebuild the file from scratch.
    2. It seems that you are storing the database into memory when the YME is running for more efficiency, but in doing so, the YME has become the biggest real memory hog on the machine.
    a. Just today when I started up a new player on a different machine, it was using 127 Meg of real memory when rebuilding the database.
    3. One of my most favorite ways of finding music to download is to use the genre list of most popular downloads. I did not know this existed until my fourth week. I have not been able to get there in no less than four links.
    4. As it appears that some of the frames in the YME are HTTP clients, it would be nice to be able to save the link for returning. E.g. It would be nice to return to the top downloads page every week instead of hunting and pecking.
    5. While the YME does support plug-ins, it would be nice to have an API that let us talk directly with the server. I would love to have an Access database hold all of my info, and then overnight or when the connection is not busy, downloads more songs and updated the licenses. Yes I know I would need a DRM SDK, but that it easy enough.
    6. I did find the Feed back page, but only after having gone through a day or so of not being able to get the Yahoo Unlimited server to respond. A feedback page should be reachable inside of the help from the YME on the client machine, and not dependent upon a connection to the Yahoo server.
    7. The uninstall program should be visible from the start menu in Windows and the Add or Remove Programs dialog. Only after my third uninstall did I learn that you had created an uninstall program.
    8. I am so glad I am not buying songs. After having seen the message that canceling in the middle of a download my cause me to lose songs I have purchased, convinced me not to buy any songs via the YME. At that time I had a choice, when the YME crashes, I may not get that choice or the message.
    9. The version on the splash screen is not the same as the one in version.txt.
    10. During one install, it did not complete correctly. It appears that after an install, no verification step is done to ensure a complete install.
    11. One of my favorite messages is when one of the HTTP client frames is saying it cannot connect to Yahoo, but another frame is happily doing updates.

    I cannot stress enough, how much the XML database is killing my use of the YME. Recently I have started using the Windows Media Player to play the songs and only use YME for downloading. I am still giving the YME a chance, but have recently confined it to a VMware machine, for being so bad.

    Keep up the good work, and let me know if you need more details on some of these items. I do have screen shots for some.

  96. Anonymous wrote:

    I’ll add my 2 cents here as well.
    I was a long time napster subscriber (and “napster to go” when it became available). Napster has its strong points and weak points–but I really enjoy the subscription music.
    When Y! Unlimited became available—I gave it a quick try, and jumped ship–I just couldn’t resist the great deal.

    Someday, I think YME could be a fine piece of work—but man o man does it have a long way to go. There are sooo many bugs, and it’s so obvious it was just cobbled together—LAUNCHcast Radio was just sorta bolted on the side—it’s barely integrated at all (for example, I can’t I see a list of songs in a radio station and download them to my device?). “Home” vs. “Y! Unlimited” – why do I need both? Why are there so many things I can only do in “My Music” that I can’t do to the same tracks in “my play lists” (like re-license or download). The bugs are really bad—it gets in states where it shows one song and plays another. Some views you can sort the song lists others you can’t. It frequently freezes/locks requiring me to kill the process. Today, it decided to stop renewing my licenses—I have to painstakingly go to “my music” and renew them—which that doesn’t even work on some. I could go on and on. I’ll frequently search for an artist—and one of their most popular/best songs won’t be listed. If I search for the missing track it’s found. This happens a lot actually. My favorite customer support response to this (missing search results) was to uninstall and re-install the YME application. Right. Device transfer are painfully slow and error prone – but I believe that’s the WM10 DRM software (napster was the same).

    Despite all that moaning and groaning, I’ll still be slogging (and cursing) my way through. I just think subscription music is the future. I hope YME can fix these issues, I’ll try to be a long time loyal customer—but if someone if a competitor can offer a better SW product in the same price range—it’ll be hard to stick around.

  97. Anonymous wrote:

    When will people outside the US be able to subscribe to Y! Unlimited?

  98. tmon wrote:

    What sold me on YME was the quality of the 192 kbps files – better than the 128 kbps i’ve heard on iTunes…..

    Question: There are bugs in YME…e.g. often crashes when trying to name a new playlist…is it still being developed?

  99. ian c rogers wrote:

    Glad you dig the higher fidelity…

    Yeah, we’re working hard on the next version, should be ready soon. Please stay tuned…

  100. Derry B wrote:

    Sorry, I guess my previous post (the one you deleted) didn’t fit in with your YME love fest here. Here’s my request for the new version: fix the bugs in the existing software.

  101. Anonymous wrote:

    I wish Yahoo! the best of luck with Yahoo! Music Engine. Hope it is a BIG hit.

  102. SuzannaLeslie wrote:

    Does anyone know where I can download visualizations for the Yahoo! Music Engine? E-mail me at: suzanna_leslie@yahoo.com Thanks!

  103. Charles F wrote:

    Yahoo Music engine is great, but I have a couple gripes. It starts up very slowly compared to WMP. It is sluggish. It doesn’t automatically recognise the music that I’ve already ripped from CD using Windows Media Player (which recognised it) and hence, does not populate it’s album art or allow me to rate the artist or album. The translucent Slipstream Mini mode has a very strange habit of becomming more and more transparent. Right now, it’s barely visible when I use it. (strange, huh?) And last, YME seems to either be a memory hog or has a memory leak. Either way, for using so much memory, it’s terribly sluggish.

  104. Anonymous wrote:

    I think YME has a great deal of potential, but its sluggishness and memory hogging need to be addressed. A great feature set that runs poorly will not hold, and is not up to Yahoo’s caliber. That said, this 1.1 and I do look forward to the improvements that will be coming down the line.

  105. Anonymous wrote:

    Nice post you got there. ;)
    I’ve had YME for close to a year now, and I’m loving it pretty well. We still need to work on some bugs though, but hey, life isn’t perfect. Good job. :)

  106. JonnyDock wrote:

    I use YME alot now. The SlipStream Mini always being very transparent is very annoying.

  107. Anonymous wrote:

    “Bloat-free, 6MB Media Player (only slightly bigger than the latest Winamp). No MFC, no ATL, no GDI+, no bullshit.”

    Here is a reason why you should not even think about touching Yahoo Music Engine. On a just started instance of YME yahoomusicengine.exe Mem Usage=”33,412K” VMSize=”174,256K”. This memory metric is taken after the cpu utilization for YME drops to 0 for 30 seconds. I had to wait a good 6 minutes for YME to have it’s cpu utilization drop 0. This is YME version 1.1.0.345. However, I’ve had VMSizes of 100MB+ for every version of YME I’ve ever used (I was an early Y! unlimited adopter). I call bullshit, sorry. This program is as bloated as a 1 ton woman, who’s feeling like it’s that time of the month. In contrast the winamp instance I’ve been running (playing windows drm music) for a couple days has Mem Usage=”14,088K” and VMSize=”39,348″. I would also like to comment about how sluggish YME is when you try to start to stream a song. After a fresh start of YME, it takes a good 2 minutes just for the player to start connecting to the server. Not to mention the good minute it takes to start a song from “my music” after I click on the song. Most unresponsive program that I think I have on my 1.8 GHZ Pentium M. Thank god for my 768 MB RAM…even then it’s insufficent.

  108. Jerry wrote:

    I’m considering YME now. Can you use a subscription with different Yahoo ID’s or is it tied to a specific ID? I use different ID’s depending on where I am(work vs home, etc).

  109. Anonymous wrote:

    One more reason not to use YME: Forget it if you live outside USA or Canada (helloooo there are actually people that does). Perhaps it would be a good idea to tell users up front, that they shouldn’t bother downloading if they are outside this region. But hey, don’t get all sad. All US developers does this mistake. Napster did it. Itunes did it. But your friends at Launchcast Plus got it right: http://tinyurl.com/51zk Check offer details sidebar. Yahoo users outside US like this!

  110. JonnyDock wrote:

    In case anyone wants to know… here is what I found out about the SlipStream Mini becoming too transparent from Yahoo! Customer Care:

    If you are using the Mini Mode view in Yahoo! Music Engine and have noticed the player becoming increasingly transparent or invisible, this is because the thumb-wheel (scroll wheel) on your mouse controls the mini-mode player’s opacity (transparency). You may have adjusted the thumb wheel while in mini-mode as you scroll through pages, and this causes the player to become transparent.

    To resolve, simply open Yahoo! Music Engine in mini-mode, and be sure the player is the topmost item in view on your desktop (in focus). Scroll the mouse thumb wheel up or down until you see the player at the correct resolution.

    Note: you can control the size of the mini-mode display by holding the control key (Ctrl) and turning the mouse scroll wheel.

  111. Anonymous wrote:

    Hi there, I have had Yahoo Music Engine for i dont know how long now. I think I joined right after you posted your original comments. Anyway I was wondering if you could answer something that I can’t seem to get resolved. I have attempted to contact yahoo supports and get nothing but canned responses. I am signed in and my sub is valid but I frequently get only 30 second clips for CDs. I mean not the whole CD but like 8 of 13 songs. Its usually new releases but its happening with others now. Woudl you have any idea how I could get this resolved. Any info woudl be great. Ok As I am writing this I was listening to what I could of LL cool J’s new CD. I click back on YME and there is a popup that says yahoo music unlimited members can listen to the whole song not just 30 second clips. 2 buttons one says sign in and the other says register. Meanwhile in the top right hand corner my user name is clearly showing. I am supposed to already be signed in. Grrr very frustrating.

  112. Anonymous wrote:

    many music tools here

    http://www.yaodownload.com/audio-mp3/

  113. Anonymous wrote:

    salam

  114. Anonymous wrote:

    Try http://www.pandora.com
    Works on a mac

  115. DeeAnn S wrote:

    I’d love it if it weren’t for the truly awful customer service experiences I’ve had. What, they can’t read my emails before replying to them? I finally got things it working enough so that I upgraded to Unlimited to Go – even went out and bought a new compatible MP3 player – and of course, not one single song will transfer due to licensing errors. The online help is useless, and I’ve already started trying out other services to see what I’m going to have to switch to . Makes me sad, ’cause it’d be my favorite if I could just get some reliable customer service!

  116. Daniel S wrote:

    bigelowi,

    I,too am seeing 30 second samples. Have you resolved this yet? Anyone out there know what’s up? I am very frustrated, too. I even signed up and set up Musicmatch, but low and behold, it’s the same lame, answer-in-a-box customer service….no answers yet. Help!

    dscharmer09

  117. Anonymous wrote:

    What’s the deal? Yahoo! buys MusicMatch and gets people to move over to the new Yahoo! Music Engine, but you guys don’t tell people that they are actually moving away from MusicMatch Jukebox. I had a full subscription to MMJB and free upgrades and then change to YME which I was led to believe was the same thing as MMJB and now I have to pay for Jukebox Plus and even more for upgrades. I think that is ridiculous. I would have never switched over if I had known that, but since I got the one year unlimited-to-go on Yahoo! I figured I would stay. I got no help from customer service and lost all my music library from MMJB. Needless to say, things are off to a bad start. At this point I would not recomment people switch from MMJB to YME because it isn’t worth it. If you already have MMJB, I would say stick with it until your subscription runs out and then see what happens with new technology.

  118. Anonymous wrote:

    To make matters worse, I can’t play any of the music I am subscribed to on anything other than my Zen Vision or the Yahoo! Music Jukebox. I don’t have administrative rights on my PC at work and cannot install the music software. When I load the files from my Zen Vision, I cannot open the file and play in Windows Media Player because the web page that WMP goes to “drm.launch.yahoo.com” cannot be found. Maybe it’s just me, but I would lay money it’s not.

    On a good note, the music catalog is quite extensive and I rarely have any problems finding something good to listen to. The interface is somewhat intuitive, but the help is not. Heck, it took me several tries to figure out how to download the Yahoo! Unlimited when all it really is is a sales ploy to get people to buy when you click the link. There is nothing that says you need to download the Jukebox to get Yahoo! Unlimited. There was no jukebox, just the Yahoo! Music Engine when I first downloaded it so that is what I was looking for. You guys should really look into making your customer support site more usable. I know you have usability people, but do some testing or something. I guarantee you will find a lot of issues.

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  120. thejeepdude wrote:

    So, I rebuilt my PC (several times) and now YME tells me that I must deactivate my other computer in order to download any new music. The problem is, they want me to go to that PC and click DEACTIVATE. That’s kind of hard when the “other computer” is actually THIS COMPUTER, which has just had the OS refreshed! Why isn’t there a way to just tell it “dectivate all the other computers except the one I’m using”? Or perhaps do it like napster does, and have a utility that shows all the subscibed computers and delete the one(s) of your choice?!?!?! So far I’m happy with the unlimited music for $6.99/mo but man this is annoying!!!

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  122. Anonymous wrote:

    When will YME be able to stream LaunchCAST radio to a media server/renderer? I am tired of only being able to listen to LC on a PC. I purchased a D-link DSM-520, but will probably return it without the ability to listen to LC radio.

  123. eadler wrote:

    Hey Ian,
    I have you Music Match for years and ripped all my music to wav. Is there a way to bring all that data into the Yahoo Music Jukebox?

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  125. Howard C wrote:

    I have been enthusiastic about the YME since its inception because of the pricing model. But its been the most buggy application I’ve used besides Adobe Reader Updates….generally halts my system. Even worse is how often song downloads grind to a halt and don’t restart…very frustrating. I would love to recapture some enthusiasm for the product, so PLEASE give me some kind of hope that you guys are working on these issues!!!

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