Sunday, March 22, 2009
Wither Not Finetune
One of my favorite streaming websites is Finetune.com. I joined Finetune in the spring of 2007. It is a free service that up to this month, allowed users to build their own online jukeboxes or playlist utilizing the music available at the Finetune.com library.
They have more than 2 million songs available for inclusion to user playlists. The music available in the Finetune library is supplied by all of the major labels as well as a number of independents. Artists available for inclusion on playlists included everyone from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac to U2, Lily Allen, Carrie Underwood, Bruddah IZ, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Enya, Timbaland, Britney Spears, Kitaro, The Four Tenors, Herb Alpert, punk rock artists, metal bands and hip-hop artists.... plus everything else in-between and obscure.
Users were allowed to build customized playlists utilizing the Finetune library of songs. I created more than 40 playlists that covered several genres including current top 40 hits, classic rock, 60s and 70s oldies, to popular standards, Hawaiian music, science fiction soundtracks and classic country. Each playlist contained a minimum of about 45 tracks before they became active. There was no limit on the amount of songs that could be included with each playlist. The only restriction was that no artist could have more than 3 songs each per playlist... so only 3 Madonna, Blondie, Led Zeppelin, tracks, etc., per list.
The small restriction did not limit user creativity to generate hundreds of playlists on the service. Finetune even employed a professional DJ to come up with mainstream playlists to cover many different genres. The service also allowed users to create playlists on the fly based on artists or songs they included in their own playlists.
One of the best features of Finetune.com was that it allowed users to embed playlists to their blogs and websites, much like how YouTube does with video. Users could also include custom icons for their playlists, post descriptions of each playlist, have other users become fans or comment on the playlist and listen to their playlist on supported mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone.
All that changed this month.
Finetune has apparently been throttled by the music industry, more than likely by the much hated (by music fans) RIAA. Finetune stopped users from editing or creating new playlists. No songs can be added to current playlists or new ones created using the present catalog or new music releases. The embed feature has also been disabled.
Finetune has been relatively quiet about this turn of events, not mentioning much to their user base unless inquired through email or found by luck on Twitter. So far the only thing that has been stated (as of this posting date) is:
"Playlist building and embedding is currently disabled. Sorry!
Dear Users - We're seeing all your feedback. We understand your confusion. Our reason d'être is in flux. More news soon.
Service changes doing what we expected... further changes maybe coming later this week, will update when we decide."
I hope this is not the end of the Finetune music site as we know it. I can hope that they work things out with the record labels and the RIAA and allow us to at least keep the playlists we built and allow us and other users to keep on listening to them. Finetune is a good way to share music without doing it illegally.