James Vasile of the Software Freedom Law Center came by IFTF to talk about the future of internet radio. We realized over the course of the discussion that there were so many variables regarding the current situation that out of a room of avid internet music listeners, we couldn’t put together exactly who gets paid what and why (though I know a little more after Jess Hemerly pointed me to an article at The Register on how Last.fm might be able to get around the SoundExchange/RIAA fee hike).
James’ idea was interesting and very much related to my experiment with building a very simple recommendation aggregator. We all agreed that there is the potential to sell a lot more music through influence networks than through radio, but the burden of distribution and copyright infringement currently rests on the recommender or the recommender’s platform.
He proposed separating the recommendation from distribution of the actual song – either by referencing an audio fingerprint or some other unique id (CDDB?). Then each listener can choose a hierarchy of how they would like to find the audio: find the mp3s on the web, last.fm, amazon samples, purchase the songs, etc. This would involve the creation of some standardized XML style format for playlists, and we talked about how Songbird seems like a good open platform for receiving these playlists and then using a diversity of networks to find the audio or at least a sample. (I’m hoping that somehow last.fm, amazon or itunes will make their samples more portable to benefit from click-through – maybe this is impossible or unlikely)