MyStream app allows users to share music wirelessly
MyStream on Thursday launched an app that lets iPhone users wirelessly share the music they're listening to with half a dozen or more friends in the same room.
The free app, created by 23-year-old New York entrepreneur Richard Zelson, is meant to re-create the functionality of a earphone splitter, those $20 doohickeys that plug into a mobile music player and have up to four jacks for other wired earphones, allowing multiple people to listen to the same device.
In MyStream's case, the app uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to connect multiple iPhones and iPods. Users can create a playlist in the app and begin broadcasting (or in this case, narrowcasting) the songs. Others who have the same app and are nearby can tap into the playlist and listen along. If they like what they're hearing, they can click a "Buy" button, which sends them off to Apple's iTunes store to purchase the song.
Zelson said connecting via Bluetooth, which nearly all cellphones now have, lets up to six listeners share music. A Wi-Fi connection, because it's more robust, allows more people to get into the party -- a dozen or more.
"We've had 12 people on at the same time without any problems," Zelson said. "You can host a silent disco party in your house, if you want."
Sharing may be a virtue on the playground and at parties, but when it comes to digital music, it can easily turn into a dirty word.
Depending on how the app works in the background, it raises intriguing questions about the legal tripwires within a byzantine network of music copyrights -- along with a phalanx of organizations such as American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music Inc., the Harry Fox Agency, SESAC and SoundExchange, which all zealously collect royalties on behalf of musicians and publishers.
Zelson said he believes his app should not trip any copyright alarms because of some safeguards built into MyStream. It only lets others listen to full songs that are currently being played in real time by the host player. Other songs on the playlist are playable as 30-second samples. Zelson also said the songs are "mapped, not copied" to other players.
Zelson argued that record labels should welcome MyStream because it encourages people to buy the songs after they've listened.
That said, history shows that labels and publishers prefer to be the ones deciding what's kosher. To decide what you think, go here to check out the app.
-- Alex Pham