Musicmobs Joins The Last.fm Social Music Revolution

November 20, 2007

I started Musicmobs four years ago as personal project and an exploration into social music. When we launched things looked quite different than they do today. The phrase “Web 2.0” had never been uttered, Audioscrobbler was the only social music tool, Friendster was at the height of popularity and people were beginning to see the power of user driven content and bottom up design. Since then, I’ve devoted my life to developing Musicmobs and social music discovery. You’ve seen a lot of this work on the site and with Mobster. I’ve also spent a significant portion of my time developing music industry relations and in two-way conversations about how people will be listening to music in the future. Over the last couple of years things have begun to change. Musicmobs continued to grow to its current state thanks to all of our passionate users and the excellent help from Maribel, Chris and Jeff, but I knew this wasn’t going to be enough. Many competitive services were launching and our own costs were starting to grow beyond our ability to support them.

I ended up spending less and less time developing the site and more time looking into ways we could survive and grow into a service everyone could use. This led to much soul searching about the direction Musicmobs should take and where I wanted to be in the future.

I explored MANY options. Some were to go it alone as a startup, others were to join a large company or larger startup and continue to innovate with a greater pool of resources.

Late last year I started talking to Last.fm to see if the most obvious fit was also the best. Those conversations ended up getting put on hold as they went through their sale to CBS. Shortly following the acquisition, Last.fm reached out to see if I was still interested in the possibility of joining them.

A couple of flights to London later, it was pretty obvious that we should be working together. Not only was their vision nearly identical to my own, but we all got along extremely well and I was thrilled to hear that they were big fans of Musicmobs!

Specifically, they really liked what we had done with Mobster. A lot of what Musicmobs.com does is duplicated on Last.fm but Mobster continues to be a unique application. This was very exciting to hear since I always felt Mobster was one of the best parts of Musicmobs. Unfortunately, it was a piece that was really hard to keep growing since it required development on multiple evolving platforms.

In the end, I accepted Last.fm’s offer to help create the social music dream team 🙂 I’ll be heading up the desktop and client software division and working with some really amazing people to take the Last.fm desktop player to the next level.

Unfortunately, this does mean that Musicmobs will be coming down so I can focus on moving forward. Fortunately, since my vision was so inline with Last.fm’s, I will get to continue to develop on the ideas that have grown over the last four years. In many ways my work with Last.fm will be Musicmobs version 3.

I would like to thank all of the users that made Musicmobs what it is. It’s been an honor serving you to the best of my ability. I hope you’ll join me on Last.fm so we can continue to be on the cutting edge of music!

– Toby

Musicmobs on Last.fm: Toby Maribel Chris Jeff

Advertisements

Recently Updated Stats

January 9, 2007

We just made a quick change to the index. Previously, the “Cool Musicmobbers” list consisted of users that were recently added as favorites. For a change of pace we’ve swapped out that list with “Recent Updates” which will show the last Musicmobs members to sync their stats. You will only show up on this list if you have selected an album cover for your profile. This should keep the index a bit more fresh and provide some transparency into what’s happening with the mobs.


XSPF Clean Up

November 22, 2006

Our friend Paul Lamere has been working on some interesting new XSPF tools that integrate with the Musicmobs API. We’ve cleaned up our XSPF output to be more compliant with the spec, but as a result the iTunes Music Store links in Mobster are now broken. We’ll try to get new versions out ASAP. Until then, the itms links on the web site are still functional as a workaround.


Top Playlists This Month

October 11, 2006

We’ve been going back and forth on the time period to use for the top playlists section of the index. Lately the new and top lists have been pretty similar so we just changed the top playlists to cover the previous month. If it looks like things are getting too static we can switch it back.


Stats Processing Bump

October 11, 2006

Our stats processor crashed the other day and stopped importing play counts. Everything is back up now, so if you’ve had problems with your profile give it another shot.


Enhanced Album Cloud

October 7, 2006

Andrew has just released an updated version of his album cloud script. The album cloud displays your top played albums and sizes each cover by the number of plays. You can find a link to your cloud on the tools page of your Musicmobs profile.

The new version comes with some simple instructions for embedding the cloud on external sites, as well as Last.fm support. Make sure to check it out here:

http://andrewhitchcock.org/musicmobs/albumcloud.pl


Playing XSPFs in Rhapsody – REST API

August 24, 2006

One of the main features of the new version of Musicmobs is the ability to play playlists in Rhapsody. What you might not know is that the REST API we’ve created can be used to open other XSPF files into Rhapsody as well.

If you look at any of the “Play” links on Musicmobs, you’ll notice URLs that look like this:

http://www.musicmobs.com/player?xspf=http://xspf.musicmobs.com/playlist/ellie117/Indie.xspf

The key is the ?xspf= query string. As long as the XSPF you’re trying to open is hosted on the web, and properly marked up with metadata (<creator>, <album> and <title> elements for each track) our player should be able to grab it and do its best to find the songs in Rhapsody.

Where do you find playlists to open? For now there are really only two places you can get properly marked up XSPFs: Musicmobs and Last.fm. Finding XSPFs on Musicmobs is easy enough, but Last.fm takes a little digging.

If you look at the Audioscrobbler Web Services page you’ll see that they expose various data feeds in XSPF format. Any of these URLs should be valid to use with our REST API.

For example this URL will play the top tracks tagged ‘Rock’ on Last.fm:

http://www.musicmobs.com/player?xspf=http://ws.audioscrobbler.com/1.0/tag/Rock/toptracks.xspf

The one caveat is that Last.fm doesn’t include the <album> element in their XSPFs. This means that our player will only find the song in Rhapsody after it’s been cached from the Rhapsody Web Services API at least once. Since our cache is continuously being filled, our matching will improve over time.

Finally, since it’s unlikely that you want the player to load (and therefore resize) your current window, it’s best to add target=”_blank” to any player URL. The finished product should look something like this:

<a href=”http://www.musicmobs.com/player?xspf=http://xspf.musicmobs.com/playlist/ellie117/Indie.xspf&#8221; target=”_blank”>Indie Playlist</a>

Also, if anyone knows of other web sites that you can get fully marked up XSPFs, please leave a comment and we’ll check it out.


SimilarTunes 1.0.1

August 24, 2006

We recently stumbled upon this nice little app built on top of the Musicmobs and Last.fm APIs:

SimilarTunes works a lot like the “In Your Library” column of Mobster. Basically, it will take the related artist results from Musicmobs and build a playlist out of the recommendations that are available in your iTunes collection. This app is Mac only, but it’s Universal Binary so that’s a plus. Overall, it’s pretty slick.

[Get SimilarTunes Here]


Musicmobs Upgrade

August 22, 2006

Welcome to the Musicmobs blog! We’ve just released a batch of new features, dive in to learn more…

Play in Rhapsody – Lately we’ve been pretty excited about Rhapsody. We’ve always wanted to provide a way to open playlists into a music subscription service but until now, no APIs were mature enough. The new Rhapsody Web Services API offered a great way to link into their service and play the majority of the songs in any playlist on the web. Clicking “Play” will search Rhapsody for all of the songs in the playlist (or song list). It doesn’t always find everything but this should improve over time.
To use this, you’ll need to download the Rhapsody plugin (you’ll be prompted at some point when you click a Play icon). You get 25 plays for free without registering, after that you’ll have to get a Rhapsody subscription for unlimited plays.
This is the first step in a multi-part integration. Next up is tracking play counts from Rhapsody.

Improved CSS – We redid the CSS for all the pages to make the site more “liquid”. Content will now stretch if you resize your browser window. This should make for much better browsing at higher resolutions. We also updated the headers and tweaked various other UI elements. Consider the layout 60% complete. More updates on this coming soon…

Tag Cloud – Always a useful way to represent a folksonomy. This was part of an index redesign with more of a focus on functionality. The cloud is based on popular tags for the last 2 months. The time interval may change depending on playlist flow.

New Tag Pages – We now break out the playlists by popularity and what’s new on the tag pages (for example the “indie” tag). This should make it easier to find interesting playlists that you may have missed the first time around.

Better Playlist RSS Feeds – All playlist RSS feeds now include links to play in Rhapsody and to download a XSPF for each playlist. We also added some playlist metadata like tags, creator and date created.

More RSS Feeds – There are now RSS feeds for new and popular playlists for each tag and new playlists for each artist.

This Blog – The news has been removed from the index and replaced by this WordPress blog. I think it’s going to be a big improvement since it will allow for more 2 way communication. We’ve entered our backlog of news and at some point soon we’ll tweak the CSS of the blog to make it look cool.

If you have any questions about the new features just let us know!

UPDATE: The Rhapsody integration looks like it’s working in IE now. Please let me know if you have any problems.


Musicmobs is Back!

August 4, 2006

Our web server had a hardware failure and needed to be replaced, but the new hardware is up and seems to be performing well. Make sure to kick the tires a bit and please let us know if anything seems to be wrong.Now that we’re back up, we’ve got a few updates we want to roll out. Keep your eye out news soon…