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Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled MP3s Yearning to Breathe Free

"If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own."
- Steve Jobs, 2002, Wall Street Journal interview

"If you legally acquire music, you need to have the right to manage it on all other devices that you own. And 'all' is not a typo meaning Apple."
- Michael Robertson, 2006

I want to store every song in your music collection. And I want to do it for each and every person on the net so I'm swinging open the doors to invite everyone to use MP3tunes today. It's an enormous technical challenge and a big responsibility, but I hope by the end of this Minute you'll see the vision. More importantly I hope you'll take advantage of an absolutely free music locker to store your favorite tunes - up to 1000 songs (1gb sync limit).
Get Oboe Free

Late last year MP3tunes began offering a music locker service called Oboe. Oboe comes with software for Mac/MSWin/Linux which gathers all the songs and playlists you have and stores them online with a couple clicks of your mouse. You can use the same software to keep all your PCs in sync so that each has your complete music library. You can also play your music from any web browser in the world (even on a computer that is not yours) - so no matter where you go you have access to your music. Oboe also safely backs up your music in case anything happens to your computer (theft, virus, hardware failure, etc).

My vision for a music locker goes beyond just playing music on PCs. An Oboe Locker can zap music to every electronic device with speakers or a headphone jack. Turn on the device. Tell it who you are. Instantly have your entire music library. In the near future you'll have a dozen different devices in your car, home, or on your person that play your music. No single company is going to have the best device in every category. Apple today may make the finest MP3 player, but the Apple/Motorola "ROKR" is an abysmal device that I bet Steve Jobs doesn't carry around in his pocket.

My not-so-secret strategy is to amass a large number of music lockers to compel electronics companies to build devices that will work with this open system - so you're always in control of your music. Most manufacturers like to lock customers in and maximize profits by creating devices incompatible with other products. I want to achieve the exact opposite - enable compatibility between all devices so you can choose the best mp3 player, phone, home stereo, PDA, etc. and know each will play ALL the music you own.

To make this a reality MP3tunes has published an API (a technical way of saying we've made the instructions publicly available) that allows any device in the world to connect to a locker and play music. Already utilizing this API are devices such as DVRs (like TiVo) and wifi devices (like Nokia's 770) and the list is growing. We're working with several electronic manufacturers to make your music available on phones and other devices.

By asking you to create a music locker at MP3tunes I'm asking you to store a big chunk of your data. I want to tell you how we will treat your personal music at MP3tunes.

1) It's YOUR data and we won't lock you in. As a customer, you will be able to download your music and playlists making it possible to change services whenever you like. I want to earn your business with good service, not handcuff you, making it difficult or impossible to move elsewhere.

2) You decide where your music will play, not us. Since we don't know which devices you like and those devices may change over time, we will be open to ALL electronic manufacturers that want to connect to your music locker.

3) We won't use patents or DRM (digital restriction management) to block others from using our system. Patents and DRM prevent different devices from working together.

Tens of thousands of people have signed up for lockers and our systems now hold more than 100 terabytes of music (a terabyte is 1000 gigabytes). This makes us the largest music storage facility in the world. It's a nice start, but still a tiny percentage of the world's music. So it's easy for you to get started we're making a free music locker available to everyone that holds up to 1000 songs. There is no cost and no credit card is required to sign-up. Oboe Free is open to all users worldwide - not just the U.S.

With this free locker you can sync music to multiple computers and you can stream via the nifty web locker interface. Oboe Free is a full featured version of our $39.95/year locker so you can even stream to non-PC devices. There's a syncing limit of 1000 songs or 1gb, whichever comes first, so depending on the size of each song you may store a substantially fewer number of songs. Sideloading is unlimited. Oboe Free should definitely be big enough to store all of your favorite songs and give you a taste of the power of the music locker. I hope you'll give it a try and help me with my vision to make ALL devices play the music you own.

p.s. My apologies to Emma Lazarus whose poem I borrowed for the title of this Minute.

-- MR
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