beaTunes News

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Moving to a New Track Id Service

beaTunes2 logoIdentifying songs that don't come with any metadata has been a capability beaTunes has offered its users for a long time. At first, I simply integrated a free service offered by a company called MusicIP. Unfortunately, they soon realized that their business model was seriously flawed and (understandably) started asking for money. Naturally, since they didn't want to sell a product but a service, the fee they asked for was not directly tied to my sales, but rather to a timespan, more like a subscription. This forced me to rethink the beaTunes business model. Should I also switch to a subscription based model?

Naturally, from a seller's point of view, subscriptions have a huge appeal. It's no coincidence that newspapers and porn sites use them. Chances are customers forget to cancel - so for a product like beaTunes you can charge at least twice. However, the only time you can charge a third time, is when users are really happy with your product or - for whatever reason - forgave you that you charged them twice already. If it's not clear by now - as a customer I have a huge dislike for subscriptions. There is always the smell of being ripped off somehow.

And that's exactly why beaTunes still does not come as a subscription, but rather as a standalone product that also enables you to access online service. The emphasis here lies on also. I specifically never made the promise that those online service are actually available. Just consider the reviews and cover art beaTunes pulls from Amazon. There is no way I can guarantee that Amazon is still around next week, therefore I cannot guarantee that the particular piece of code in beaTunes can still display the desired album details. The same is true for any kind of browser - just think Firefox - it can't guarantee you the world wide web. By licensing Firefox you don't license any content.

This also applies to the MusicIP service, which morphed into AmpliFind. I never promised its availability. Nevertheless I signed deals with them, so that users of beaTunes could continue to use the service even after it went commercial and became fairly expensive for a little one man show like tagtraum industries. I did this, because their service provided real value for my customers. Unfortunately, not too long ago, AmpliFind sold its intellectual property to Gracenote, a Sony subsidiary. This by itself didn't have to change things, but Gracenote decided to kill AmpliFind's services in favor of its own. In essence, it eliminated a competitor. Again, this by itself didn't have to be bad. But, and this is a huge but, Gracenote's services are multiple times as expensive as AmpliFind's. They also only offered multi-year contracts to me. Hardly something that made me scream yay. The bottom line: Without significantly raising the price of beaTunes, there was no way I could afford offering Gracenote's service to beaTunes users.

So I went ahead and started setting up my own track id service.

This new service became operational today with the release of beaTunes 3.0.7 (it is not supported in older versions of beaTunes). While my tests show that it works reliably, it still needs some scaling work and the audio fingerprint database is not yet as complete as it could be. I expect both problems to be solved in the coming months. If you want to support beaTunes, please submit your track fingerprints to the online database and provide valuable metadata to other users. Doing so is trivial, just start beaTunes 3.0.7 or later and select Tools -> Submit Fingerprints to Server.

Thank you for you continuing support.

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