The good old days of Napster may be behind us, but that doesn’t mean the spirit of free music sharing has died out. Witness this new venture from student Ryan Lester of the US, which aims to combine the super simple sharing of the original Napster service with the modern power of streaming web services.
Napster FM is an open source browser based music streaming and sharing service which lets you search for music, create playlists and sync them with your friends via a really easy to use interface. The key thing is it’s all driven by the browser, which means that any browser you have open can sync to your original playlist (or library as it’s called here) and what’s more you can sync your library with your friend and listen in on their choice of tunes.
The ability to sync playlists also lets you browse what the whole community is playing, which is a great way to find new music which you might like, and then add it to your own library. The secret of the track list is that it’s all currently culled from YouTube, which makes it a) huge and b) vulnerable, so we’re expecting the source list to expand as the service moves out of beta.
There’s no real interface to speak of actually, just faux tabbed browser pages with player controls at the top, but it works. To get the best out of it, start with Search, find your favorite tracks and click to add them to your library. If you’re in an adventurous mood, move over to the Discovery section and see what the community is playing and again select stuff you want to sample with a single click.
Once you’ve built up a library you love, just select the play all icon and off you go. There are obvious additional feature that the service cries out for, including a mobile friendly version, but since it’s all still in beta, you’ll have to be patient, OK? Or why not download the source code yourself, host your own version on a server and add whatever you like. Oh the beauty of open source.
There’s also a live chat feature with other users which adds some nice olde time Napster feel (and no the service has absolutely no connection with the original Napster at all) but what is sorely missing is a set of documentation to explain how to use things like the Hot List and Transfer. However the basic functions work so well that it’s hard to be churlish.
And Sean looked. And it was good.