By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
A new open-source music streaming service called Napster.fm had to change its name to Peer.fm at the behest of Rhapsody, which owns the Napster brand, as reported by TechCrunch. However, the service has a bigger problem that will probably shut it down for real â or at least force it to re-source its entire music catalog. Our guess is that itâs only a matter of time until this happens, so enjoy Peer.fm while you can, if thatâs what youâre doing.
The problem: All of the music comes from YouTube.
Thatâs fine, on a general level. YouTubeâs API allows app developers to build whatever they want out of all the music on YouTube, so long as they follow a few basic guidelines (which is one reason YouTube could be bad for music, even though it claims âfreeâ can pay as well as âpaidâ).
But on a specific level, Peer.fm is screwed. It clearly violates the part of YouTubeâs API that commands app developers to display video along with the music, rather than just stripping out the music and delivering it directly, as Peer.fm openly admits to doing.
âAs far as the streaming music, Iâm essentially just grabbing existing content on YouTube based on metadata (titles, artists, etc.) from the Discogs database,â writes Peer.fm developer Ryan Lester in the FAQ.
YouTube does not recommend doing this without displaying the video, in addition to expressly forbidding it.
âI think applications integrating music is a great idea, and there are plenty of robust music services out there,â YouTube product manager Phil Farhi told Evolver.fm the last time we wrote about this, in 2011. âI think itâs better for an application developer toâ¦ make sure theyâre complying properly, versus thinking that they can temporarily and maybe inappropriately access our platform. Theyâre going to get shut down, and itâs going to be a bad user experience because the YouTube videos wonât play anymore one day.â
And that is what will likely happen to the music on Peer.fm if the service continues to pick up traction. So, why is Peer.fm still working at all? Well, these things take time.
When we wrote about an app that grabbed music from YouTube in a way that violated the API terms, that app, Youtube Radio, was deleted from iTunes in a matter of days. Considering Peer.fmâs coverage on TechCrunch and now here, we donât give it much time at all. As soon as labels and/or publishers complain to YouTube, it will cut off Peer.fmâs access to the YouTube API, and that will most likely be that â unless Lester can transition Peer.fm to Rdio, Spotify, or another service, or unless it decides to start showing the videos, along with whatever ads YouTube wants to include.
If not, weâll soon find out whether Lesterâs claim that âIf Peer.fm were ever abandoned or shut down, the community could immediately rehost itâ is accurate.