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RAIN 5/11: New Google music service can create Pandora-like "instant mixes"

Posted on: 05/11/2011


As you probably know by now, yesterday Google launched its long-awaited cloud music service, dubbed Music Beta. Beyond the major features of the service (20,000 free song uploads, for example), Music Beta also includes an interesting radio-like feature: Instant Mixes.

Much like Apple’s Genius or even customizable Internet radio stations like Pandora, Instant Mixes on Google Music Beta creates a playlist based on a single song that the user selects.

The service looks through the user’s music library for songs “with similar tonality or other musical features,” according to VentureBeat (here). That playlist gets sent off the cloud, so you could create a playlist for your commute and have it waiting on your Android phone in the morning.

“Google stressed that its algorithms don’t just compare users’ playlists the way Apple does, but actually looks at the music in your collection and finds songs that actually go well together,” writes NewsGrange (here). WebProNews says the feature is “like Pandora for your collection” (here).

As interesting as Instant Mixes and Music Beta’s other features sound, Evolver.fm’s Eliot Van Buskirk writes that Google had even more innovative ideas up its sleeve, but was blocked by “unreasonable” terms from some music labels. As a result, writes Van Buskirk, Music Beta “could be maintaining the relevance of P2P and other forms of file sharing.” Read more here.


The Hype Machine, a music site aggregating mp3s from over 800 blogs, has launched an iPhone app. “And we’re happy to report that it was worth the wait,” writes Evolver.fm’s Elliot Van Buskirk.

The $3 is called Hype Machine Radio and, according to Van Buskirk, it “is a phenomenal way to listen to music so fresh that Pandora’s humans have yet to parse it with their brains…It feels like all of these music bloggers are DJing your life.” Read more here.


The U.S. Library of Congress yesterday launched National Jukebox, a free streaming archive of more than ten-thousand music and spoken-word recordings from the early years of the last century.

Sony Music, as a partner in the project, has made available all pre-1925 acoustic recordings on the Victor Talking Machine Co. label. The vast majority of these records are now long out of print.

The site enables on-demand streaming of early 20th century popular music: band music, novelty tunes, humor, musical theater productions, dance, and opera arias. Pre-selected playlists are also available to showcase genres, songwriters, and performers.

The Los Angeles Times reports, “Among the highlights are vintage performances by celebrated classical musicians, including Enrico Caruso and Fritz Kreisler; the first blues recording, ‘Livery Stable Blues,’ made in 1917 by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band; a comedy skit by the Vaudeville team of Gallagher and Shean; speeches of President Teddy Roosevelt; piano performances by jazz-ragtime pioneer Eubie Blake; and music of the John Philip Sousa Band conducted by its namesake.”

The LOC has plans to soon add more early Victor discs, more selections from the 1919 edition of the Victor Book of the Opera, and thousands more Victrola 78s. Later, the National Jukebox will include recordings from additional record labels, including Columbia and Okeh, along with selected master recordings from the Library of Congress Universal Music Group Collection.

Read more in the L.A. Times here, and visit the National Jukebox. (Note: You may need to update Flash, and it seems to work best with Internet Explorer.)


The growing issue of mobile privacy saw another development yesterday as members of Apple and Google were questioned by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law about location tracking. “The answer to this problem is not ending location-based services,” said Senator Al Franken (D-MN). “What today is about is trying to find a balance between all those wonderful benefits and the public’s right to privacy.” Read more from Ars Technica here.

In early April, Pandora announced it had been subpoenaed by a Federal grand jury in connection with an “industry-wide probe” into mobile app privacy. Industry attorney David Oxenford said this was but “the tip of the iceberg” for mobile privacy issues (RAIN coverage here).

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