Wanted: a way to aggregate streaming tracks

December 3, 2010

I’ve decided that I really want a mashup of exfmShuffler.fm and delicious, with a dash of smart playlisting thrown in.

Here’s the problem: Every day I find cool streaming music in lots of different places. Soundcloud. YouTube. Tumblr. (that’s a piece of my Tumblr dashboard, above). But for most of it, I listen to it once. At most. Because listening to streaming music in an atomized form is a pain. Having to choose and click on a new song every three minutes might be fine for an ADD teenager, but I don’t want my music listening to be completely interrupt-driven. I just want a continuous stream of music I like (and judging by the continuing popularity of online and terrestrial radio, and the love for Shuffler, I’m not alone).

In an MP3-centric world, I’ve dealt with the increasingly decentralized creation and distribution of music by, in essence, centralizing it: by downloading MP3s into my library, and using that as an aggregator. And exfm, which I just started using, is pretty good at getting around the downloading issue. But as more and more music is straight-up streaming, how do we make those tracks into part of our ‘virtual library,’ so that we can find them, embed them into playlists, and otherwise listen at will?

What I really want to be able to do is this: Every time I find a streaming track I’m interested in (whether in Tumblr, YouTube, SoundCloud or anywhere else), I flag it as part of my ‘library’, like delicious does for bookmarks or exfm does for MP3s. Note that, unlike delicious, I don’t want to manually tag it. Because, well, I’m lazy. But also because I either know the song, and I can classify it ways I can’t easily articulate into a folksonomy, or I don’t know it, and can’t classify it at all. So I’d really like some tools to automagically organize it into playlists in a range of ways. And then I’d like to just be able to listen to a Shuffler-like continuous stream that pulls together my flagged streaming tracks, my own MP3s, tracks from streaming services like last.fm, and more.

Oh, and I’d also like a pony. Or maybe a unicorn.

What do you think?

This post is the result of a conversation this morning with Jason Herskowitz, prompted by a question from Mark Mulligan.


  1. Debcha, I think maybe you haven’t played with exfm enough. Please watch this video. It seems like it does everything you want!

    Also, the latest version now aggregates all the music from everyone you follow on Tumblr, Twitter and FB into an activity stream of music that you just click ‘play’

  2. Thanks for your reply, Dan! I think you need to update your vid, though, since it’s MP3 focused, and I didn’t know about Tumblr integration. And I still want integration with SoundCloud and YouTube and awesome playlisting (and a unicorn)…

  3. What about Grooveshark?

    • I quite like Grooveshark, and it’s pretty good at avoiding what Anthony Volodkin of Hype Machine calls the Inevitable Minefield of Music Subscription.

      But I don’t want to upload my entire library, and (as far as I can tell) it can’t scrape, for example, songs from my Tumblr stream, a large chunk of which are YouTube videos.

      And yes, I realize that I’m asking for a pony. And we are absolutely in a transitional period. But I want my pony, dammit!

      We have infrastructure for handling MP3s (in the forms of various players). We are just starting to get infrastructure to deal with streaming music (like exfm, which is EXCELLENT). But we still don’t quite have an infrastructure that effectively deals with both.

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