Friday, December 21, 2007

Top Web Tools of 2007 - Number 5

imeem is now my (free) music provider of choice. I still like Pandora which was on my 2006 list, but imeem has gone a long way toward making it legal for me to listen to almost any full-length track that I want to, in the order that I want to, as often as I want to. You can create playlists using any music that you can find on the site, such as the one embedded below with a selection of holiday music. Here is the link to this playlist at imeem.

The fact that you can embed a playlist like that on any webpage also makes it extremely useful. I like the fact that I can put it on any blog I choose, but I can also put it on any other webpage where I have writing permissions, such as on a page inside a VLE (virtual learning environment such as D2L or Blackboard) for an online class.

Notice that not all the songs in that playlist are full-length. When I am logged in to my imeem account and using the playlist at their site, they are all full-length. By embedding the playlist, some songs are shortened to 30 seconds depending upon licensing agreements between imeem and the music company in question. Songs on imeem will be only a 30-second preview if the artist or record label has not signed an agreement with imeem giving approval for full-length streaming. Their interpretation of copyright fair use principles indicates that a 30-second preview is acceptable. When you search for a song on imeem you'll see right away whether it is a preview or full-length.

For songs that you already have on your computer, you can upload them to your imeem account and listen to them full-length, regardless of whether imeem otherwise has permission for that song.

Here's a quote from an article on TechCrunch near the end of October: "Ad-supported music just won another convert. Music-sharing social network imeem struck a deal with EMI Music so that starting today its members can legally stream songs from Radiohead, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Interpol, Daft Punk, the Beastie Boys, and every other EMI artist. EMI joins Warner Music and Sony-BMG as the third major label to strike a deal with imeem. That only leaves Universal Music Group among the majors to sign a deal." That last big deal was inked with Universal in early December. Looking for a little imeem trivia? Check out Wikipedia to learn what the name imeem means, what their connection is to Led Zeppelin, and other such useless stuff.

You can use your imeem account to store and play audio and videos, and also to store and display photos. It can easily be used for podcasting, as explained here in their FAQ section. Although I haven't done it, it would be easy to embed the player inside your VLE, then each time a new podcast is uploaded it will appear in the player for students or other subscribers to listen to. For video files, imeem supports many different file types, but recommends .MPEG, .MOV, .FLV, and .AVI for optimum results. The suggested video size is 400x300, but other sizes will work as well. For music files, imeem supports mp3s only, with a recommended sampling rate of 44.1 kHz. At this time there are no maximum file size limitations for uploading video or other file types.

imeem certainly has it's critics since some people don't like anything that is ad-supported. But come on, they're doing all the heavy lifting by dealing directly with the a-hole record companies, they're helping make it legal to access your music from any Internet connection, and they're enabling you to legally share the music of other account holders. In my book, that's a pretty good deal. Did I mention that it's free?

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