Category Archives: Startups

Change in MySwar domain

Earlier this week, some of us observed that myswar.com was inaccessible. We had recently moved to a new hosting provider and our first thought was that it was an issue at their end. Further investigation, however, revealed that we were most likely the target of a court order that had ISPs blocking our website. The court order is backed by Section 169A of the IT Act, 2008. We’re not the first website to have been subjected to this arbitrary and draconian law. Websites like Vimeo, Github and Mouthshut have been subjected to such blocks in the past.

One of the biggest issues of such blocks is that the targets have no idea who initiated the block and why. While we will explore legal options to remove the block, with our limited resources, this is going to be extremely difficult.

To work around this issue in the short term, we have moved our domain to http://myswar.in. This comes at great cost to us in terms of our branding and the goodwill of users who’ve encouraged us through the years. Unfortunately, this appears to be our best option for now. The block has also resulted in our apps not working. We’re working to publish the updated versions of the apps by next week.

As experts have noted, copyright owners are increasingly using court orders to mass block torrents and piracy sites around the time major films are released. Unfortunately, this process unfairly sweeps up legal, smaller websites like ours. In an attempt to address this problem, we will defer publishing of film albums to after this period.

We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our users and hope that they’ll stay with us while we figure out a long term solution.

MySwar Mobile Web Version Now Available

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Over the last few weeks, we rolled out mobile web updates to the MySwar website. When you access myswar.in from a mobile device, you’ll see an easy-to-navigate, mobile-friendly version. Almost every feature available available on the desktop website is available in the mobile web version. While the UI is different, the flow is very similar to the flow of the desktop website. The mobile website is intuitive but do take time out the check out the feature-rich, context-sensitive Settings option. Depending on what page you are in, the Settings pop-up provides you options to do various things including starting a playlist, filtering lists, logging in, changing the display language and switching to the destop UI. We hope you enjoy this update.

MySwar App Now Available In Hindi

Updated on Mar 12, 2015: The MySwar Android app is also available in Hindi now.

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A little more than a year ago, we had announced the availability of content on MySwar in Hindi in addition to English. We finally got to roll out an update that makes Hindi content available on the MySwar iOS app and the MySwar Android app as well.

Pretty much all content on the app, artist bios and trivia being exceptions, is now available in Hindi. Just go to Settings -> Language -> Choose “हिन्दी में” and Voila! As in the website, regardless of the Language setting in the app, you can search for songs/albums/artists by typing in either English or Devanagari.

Here’s a quick view of how the language setting works:

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Non-Film Albums Now Available On MySwar App

So far we had only Hindi film albums available on the MySwar app. Over the weekend, we rolled out an update that makes non-film albums also available. This means that the best works of artists like Jagjit Singh, Indian Ocean, Shubha Mudgal, Raghu Dixit, Swarathma and Vasuda Sharma are now available on our app. It also means that we get to see another dimension of popular film artists like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey, Mohammed Rafi and Talat Mahmood.

We hope you enjoy this update: Android, iOS.

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Film Credits On MySwar

Since MySwar launched 2011, we have steadfastly focused on crediting musicians making Hindi film music – music directors, lyricists, singers and when the information was available, arrangers, assistants, instrumentalists and so on. We believe that musician credits is a sadly overlooked aspect of music metadata in India. That is the reason you didn’t see any credits for the film cast and crew all this time. While we continue to hold that belief, we believe we have made a significant contribution in cataloguing comprehensive and accurate musician credits and it’s now time to start adding other film credits as well.

A few weeks ago we started showing credits for the film crew – specifically Director, Producer, Writer (Story, Dialogue, Screenplay), Cast and Studio. So far we have credits for over 1500 films and you should be able to find complete filmographies of the superstars – Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan – and the major directors – Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Gulzar, Guru Dutt, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Nasir Hussain, Shakti Samanta, Subhash Ghai, Vishal Bhardwaj, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Yash Chopra, among others. This remains a work in progress effort as we continue to add film credits for other films based on priority decided by the film’s significance and the significance of the film’s cast and crew.

This additional information is available on the website in the album page as well as in the app in the additional information screen for albums. On the website, this information is available in Hindi as well English.

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One of the challenges we faced in this project is reconciling artists with same or similar names. For example, while Nasir Hussain (नासिर हुसैन) is the producer/director behind films like “Teesri Manzil” (1966), “Yaadon Ki Baarat” (1973) and “Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak” (1988); Nazir Hussain (नज़ीर हुसैन) is the actor known for his role in films like “Devdas” (1955), “Kashmir Ki Kali” (1964), “Jewel Thief” (1967) and “Amar Akbar Anthony” (1977). We have tried our best to ensure proper credits by using the primary source where we could – the credits in the film itself – as well as a number of other sources including the venerable Hindi Film Geet Kosh. If, however, you find mistakes, please do let us know and we’ll fix it.

In addition to regular search and display, you can also use Advanced Search to find songs that include actor/producer/director/writer/studio parameters. The results from these searches are indicative since – a) we don’t have all the films covered yet for these new credit attributes, b) the credits are at the film level, not the song level (relevant specially for actors).

I hope you like this new facet of MySwar and enjoy the delicious nuggets of information it offers.

MySwar App Update On iOS – Going Free!

We released a new version of the MySwar app on iOS yesterday. This update makes the app free and displays banner ads. There is an option to make an in-app purchase to remove the ads for a period of 1 year (Upgrade option in Settings).

We realize that some of you have purchased the app only recently and this move may appear unfair. To address this scenario – we ask you to send us an email at admin@myswar.in with your iOS device UDID and we will help you get back to the ad-free version (for one year). If you need help figuring out the UDID, let us know and we’ll help you.

If you still haven’t downloaded the app, there really is no excuse now. Get it from here: https://itunes.apple.com/app/myswar/id622503117?ls=1&mt=8

The Android app was always free and remains free: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mavrix.myswar

MySwar.Com – अब हिन्दी में

If you can’t wait to check it out, go right ahead to MySwar.Com in Hindi. If you’re interested in the backstory, carry on.

For some time now, we have felt the need to provide a Hindi version of MySwar. For a website about Hindi films songs, that seems kind of obvious. However, we’ve been guilty of staying in our comfort zone – English – for various reasons (excuses?), the primary being higher priority features we needed to get implemented.

Over time though, we realized that by publishing only in English, we are excluding a large segment of music lovers from our website. Seeing “wrongly” transliterated search keywords in English (through search engines and on the website) gave us an understanding of the difficulties people from this segment face in English-only websites. This interview with Google India’s MD Rajan Anandan, gave us the nudge we needed to kick-start this project. In the interview, Rajan talks about how the dearth of content in regional languages is holding back internet penetration and that he expects the next 300 million users of Google India to use regional languages.

Thejesh’s experience using the Google Transliteration API helped but the extent of changes ensured that we had to put in a lot of effort into the project. A combination of the Google Translate API run on our database helped automate the transliteration effort to an extent but we did have to mark about 50% of the transliterated text for manual verification. The manual verification was required because the same word in English script could be written in different ways in Hindi. For example, “bahar” could be बाहर or बहार; “to” could be either तो or टु. We also had to spend some time translating the static pages, literals and messages but that was a piece of cake compared to the database.

The other significant work was of course the extensive code changes as well as positive and negative tests.

This implementation leaves some English text behind – including artist bios and trivia – but we believe that this version is enough to make the website a lot easier to use for those more comfortable with Hindi. I hope you like this update as much as we do.

Custom Playlists On MySwar

Many of you have asked about being able to create your own playlists and I’m glad to report that we have rolled out custom playlists now on MySwar.

Custom playlists works pretty much as you would expect them to – All across the website, you’ll see a + sign against songs, provided a YouTube video is available. Clicking the plus sign lets you add the song to a queue (temporary) or lets you add it to a playlist (saved). Adding songs to a playlist requires you to be a registered user. The saved playlists are public and available to anyone who has the playlist URL, so you can share your playlists with friends. One advantage of a MySwar Playlist is that even if a YouTube video disappears, the song stays on the list (just doesn’t get played) and when we add another video back for the song, which we do periodically, your playlists remains intact.

Other than custom playlists, we have also put together a massive package of pre-built playlists of well-rated songs based on a number of things. You have a list of all the songs on MySwar with a rating of three and above – All-time Popular Songs. There is a list of well-rated songs that have released recently – Popular New Releases. A list of well-rated songs by year – one list for every year from 1941 to the present. A list of popular songs by decade. We have a whole bunch of playlists by artists – singers, composers and lyricists. And finally, playlists by genres.

Something to remember about the pre-built, popular playlists – these are shuffle playlists of 25 songs. So even if the actual list has a large number of songs, the packaged playlist will consist of 25 randomly picked songs. You can always get a fresh set of 25 songs by clicking the Shuffle button.

And the first custom playlist on MySwar? My own Kishore Favorites.

MySwar Updates

We shipped a few cool updates to MySwar this morning:

  • Flipkart’s digital music service, Flyte, is now available as a purchase option on the MySwar website. At the album level, you will now see iTunes, Flipkart (for audio CD) and Flyte as options and at the song level iTunes and Flyte. This is subject to availability on iTunes and Flipkart. Currently, we have updated these links for the albums released in 2013 and 2012. We will make links available for the rest of the albums over the next few weeks.Purchase Options
  • Song previews are now available for Indian users. The previews are sourced from iTunes.
  • The Advanced Search results page now displays the number of songs.Advanced Search Result Count
  • Ability to Refresh recommendations in the Discover page (logged in users). We also tuned this page to load faster.
  • Also a number of other improvements and bug fixes.

Hope you like these improvements. Also, if you still haven’t downloaded our mobile app yet, please consider yourself gently nudged to do so. You can find the download links here.