The Music Industry and the Developers That Can Save It

Alex Stone
Oct. 01 2010, 12:00AM EDT

There's a lot of fuss over the RIAA and the Internet. It seems like it's been a never-ending battle to make music play nice with the internet. Sure, we've got services like Rdio and Grooveshark, but what about making data open to make our listening experience better and more connected with everything else we do?

Audio-hosting service SoundCloud's Dave Haynes explained the developer-as-gatekeeper in his post Love, Music & APIs:

It's these APIs that are largely underpinning the work of these new gatekeepers. They provide access to the building blocks and foundations being laid down by a new generation of music companies.

Thanks to a few wonderful services and apps, we actually have quite a bit of open, music-related data and content. The Billboard API shows what's popular. The Last.fm API helps us see who's actually listening to what. Soundcloud's API lets artists share and distribute their music. Bandcamp's API is letting artists put a store anywhere they want.

CitySounds.fm - The sounds of cities

The problem is that no one is connecting these things with the rest of our connected lives to help us discover what music is worth buying (a very nuanced task in itself). The Internet is powerful and made so much more so once developers get in and start putting things together. Show me what's popular amongst my Twitter friends. Show me what bands are taking advantage of Bandcamp and Soundcloud are in my area. Combine geo location with Soundcloud and let me listen to Soundcloud like it was a local radio station, reflecting local trends as I'm traveling around.

That being said, what can the music industry to to be more developer-friendly. Has the industry even learned from its mistakes with MP3 and the connected nature of the Internet? Let's hope so. Maybe some major labels could sponsor or host a Music Hack Day event or offer more mashup contests. Developers would be encouraged to make more music-centric apps, music fans would get to use said apps, and the industry gets better tools and products to help fuel the whole thing.

Until that time, it's up to independent developers. We currently list 88 music APIs and 372 music mashups.

Alex Stone Virginia-based web developer. I'm into cool ideas and phones. You may recognize me from such mashups as Super DVD Robot! and the upcoming Twitter app, Birdcage.

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If record companies were smart, they would have created Pandora. After all, what is their job? It's not selling plastic. The job of the music industry is to introduce people to music that they like, and monetize that action.

All these apps and APIs and applications could be of great use in their hands... but, like you said they're in the hands of developers. Your point is valid :)