Carnegie Mellon student Ryan Lester has created a new streaming music service called Napster.fm. It’s not affiliated with the famous Napster service of the early 00s. It allows you to search for and listen to songs, using YouTube as a source. Mellon says in his FAQ the service is ‘dependent on minor inefficiencies in YouTube’s piracy-detection system’, so you might not always get the version of the song you want.
The developer clearly has a sense of humor: the first track that loads when you open the site is Rick Astley’s ‘Never gonna give you up’, famously used for the ‘Rickrolling‘ meme.
Sourcing music from YouTube is nothing new, but Napster.fm does have some neat features. Everything you listen to online is saved to your library, so you can access it from wherever you want. The site calls this syncing, but it’s really just syncing the meta-data of music from YouTube.
You can also ‘sync’ with other users, in theory, but once you have done this, it’s not obvious where you can see their libraries! It’s easier to add users to your hot list, which means you can see what any user has been listening to. Despite being pretty bare, these simple features are good for discovering new music.
Napster.fm is open source, so in theory if it was abandoned or shut down, it could be re-hosted by the community. It does work, but YouTube sourcing means sound quality is inconsistent. This is not serious competition for services like Spotify.
It will be interesting to see if Napster.fm gets a strong enough community to develop further.