Friday, October 19, 2012

Sketching out an intelligent Audio File Manager...

Itunes has implemented a metadata database with references to the files.  This removes the need to use the fileing system as a simple database and store meta data in tags within the file itself.

The question is what is immutable and what is mutable meta-data.

Name of the track, length, encoding details... artist, which album it was released on, year of release... that kind of thing. These are immutable (to a certain degree)

The mutable meta data is more about how the user wants to arange and manipulate their music collection.  Groups, genres, tags, play lists, mood ratings, star ratings... etc.  How you want to sort, search and filter the items in the library.

Since this set of structures is not unique, clean or complete... its cannot be implemented over the file system+tag structure in use by the majority of music managers.  I also think that iTunes is fundamentally flawed because it enforces the distribution and packaging model favored by music retailers.  The Album.  This is hard wired into its DNA in a way that forces consumers to still consider it as a meaningful entity in the structure.  It's neither valid for the music artist nor for the consumer. It's an artifact of last century.

It's now as valid to subscribe to an artists channel.  Treat them as an entertainment source that the consumer tunes into.  Allow the artist to produce their ideal playlist.   Allow friends to trade play lists like we used to trade mix tapes.  Its what I want to listen to ... how I want to hear it.

Mashups are the next level of sophistication for the music listener.  Again similar to a mixtape... but with the possibility of interactive scripting.  Put branch points and structure in a play list. Let it adapt the volume and tempo to suit the mood of the listener.  Call it a MixList.

Develop a killer mixlist for listening to over dinner... then once the kids are in bed... change the groove for some quiet time... or rev your engine in thats how you roll.  Having your own personal channel that feeds from a range of sources personalises it to whats going on, how you are feeling and where you want the music scape to take you...

 Now how to make the beast?  Seems simple enough... but is this a media manager?  Its more like an AI driven media player.

For a media curator... well thats something different.  This is simply a tool.  It cleans up and maintains your library.  All the basics like filing and taking out the garbage.  It could also troll for new material.  Automatically download based on preferences.  Slide them into your music time when you are in the mood to experiment and see how you respond.

The next level is developing an engine that can analyse the music itself and do some sorting and categorising for you... and then build this information into the sound feed.

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