Tag Archives: mobile

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

IMG_3178

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.

IMG_2018

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:

IMG_2016IMG_2017IMG_2018IMG_2019IMG_2020IMG_2021

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.

Sholay

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 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.

Why Won’t Apple’s iCloud Stream Music?

Since Apple’s big iCloud announcement a couple of days ago, the internet has been abuzz with people expressing disappointment at the iCloud not going far enough when it came to music (like here, and here). What did Apple miss? Streaming.

Broadly, there seem to be two camps of people when it comes to music listening preference – one that prefers listening to streaming music (via services like Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, Raaga, Saavn) and the other that prefers owned music played locally on their computers, mobile phones, media players or other devices. But even those who prefer owning music (like I do), probably use streaming as an option to discover and sample before they buy.

So, regardless of your listening preferences, you may feel that iCloud missed the bus by not allowing streaming of music via subscription. Amazon Cloud and Google Music Beta also missed that same bus, by the way. They allow streaming but only of the music you already own. In fact, Amazon actually charges you for it. (Duh?!) Google has conveniently not revealed its pricing.

Coming back to iCloud. Streaming of purchased music may not make sense, but why not give customers the option to stream music they don’t own as well as buy songs if they choose to?

My guess is that it could be due to the following reasons:

  1. Profitability – Apple has a predictably profitable model of selling music through iTunes. On the other hand, streaming services have struggled for profitability, whether it’s the ad-supported Pandora, or subscription-based Spotify. And while streaming services are becoming increasingly popular, they still do not represent a sizeable enough market for Apple to be interested (not yet at least).
  2. Risk – iCloud is going to put considerable pressure on Apple’s resources (including their cloud infrastructure) and they know it. Why do you think Steve Jobs showed off the pictures of their huge server farm? Apple wants to come back strongly after MobileMe’s failure (Steve Jobs described it as “Not our finest hour” in the keynote at WWDC), and is not willing to take on the risk associated with the burden of streaming music.
  3. Concerns around bandwidth usage – A few days ago, I wrote a post about why 3G economics don’t work for streaming music in India. According to Paul Lamere, a music+tech guru and a passionate supporter of music subscription services, people in the US can get an unlimited 3G data plan “for the cost of a good meal”. That may be the case today but even in the US, people are becoming more aware of their rapidly increasing mobile bandwidth usage and carriers are shutting down unlimited data plans. Perhaps Apple believes that the consumers’ and the carriers’ increased sensitivity to bandwidth usage may adversely impact the streaming music market.

 

Apple’s iCloud Is Transformational

What is iCloud?

iCloud is Apple’s service that allows consumers to shift their storage hub from local hard-drives to the internet. iCloud takes care of syncing a variety of content and information (contacts, mails, calendars, music, photos, videos, documents, etc.) across multiple devices. The following apps are available on iCloud:

  1. Contacts, Calendar, Mail are available on iCloud for free. Apple is shutting down MobileMe, the product that used to do the same at $99 per year.
  2. Apps Store
  3. iBooks
  4. Device backup – Backs up important settings and loads on new device
  5. Documents in the cloud – Supports availability of Pages/Numbers/Keynote across devices.
  6. iCloud storage APIs – For developers to build iCloud apps
  7. Photo Stream – Stores the last 1000 photos on the cloud. Allows access across devices. People with more than 1000 photos can move older ones from Photo Stream to their device.
  8. iTunes
    1. Anything bought on iTunes can be re-downloaded on 10 devices
    2. Automated download to all devices. Download starts when you plug in your iPhone for charging.
    3. For non-iTunes music, consumers can
      1. Sync devices
      2. Buy the songs from iTunes, so it’s available on iCloud
      3. Buy the iTunes Match service at about $25/year. The service lets you match your non-iTunes tracks to iTunes’ 18 million song catalog. Matched songs have the same support as iTunes songs – 256K downloads (even if the original track is less than 256K) available on 10 devices. Unmatched songs will be available on the cloud as is. Apple claims that the matching takes minutes (as opposed to the “weeks” it takes to upload music to Google Music Beta or Amazon Cloud).

How much will iCloud cost?

Some details are not known but for the most part, iCloud is free. Storage for purchased music, apps, books and the 1000 Photo Stream photos are free of cost. 5GB of storage is available for free for mails, documents and backup. Apple indicates that 5GB is more than enough and does not even address the possibility of the need for more than 5GB. The only component of iCloud that costs money is iTunes Match at $24.99.

When will iCloud be available?

iTunes on iCloud is already available. The remaining components will be available this fall.

What about streaming?

No streaming. (I will be writing another post with my theories on why Apple did not roll out streaming).

Why is iCloud transformational?

  1. Comprehensive – It is the first and only service that manages such a wide gamut of “stuff” on the cloud.
  2. Invisible – It is so well integrated with the Apple ecosystem, that consumers may not even notice it. Stuff just becomes available across devices.
  3. Big impact – Except for iTunes Match, it is free. At that price point, adoption of iCloud by anyone with an Apple device is a no brainer. With millions of Apple customers using iCloud, the standard for managing multiple devices has changed permanently. For the better.

 

3G Cost In India Will Burst Music Cloud Bubble

Even though Google and Amazon have not yet released their cloud music service in India, the excitement around it is palpable in cities where 3G has been rolled out. One of our team members, Rakshith, can’t wait for Google Music to come to India because he wants access to music anywhere, anytime. To quote him “Have a 3G connection and u have all ur songs in one click. And its FREE if im not wrong.” He was referring to the free 20000 song upload for the Google Music Beta. I asked, “What about 3G costs?”. We had a good debate and that was that.

The matter resurfaced over the weekend though, when a visitor on our blog sent me an email about streaming music. He seemed very keen about it because “anyway i pay for 3G”.

For some reason, people seem to be putting blinders on when it comes to 3G costs. Sorry to burst the bubble, my fellow music buffs but here is something you should know about the prevalent 3G plans:

  • The more you use, the more you pay. There is no unlimited plan. You cannot justify your music streaming with “anyway I am paying” rationale.
  • 3G plans are not cheap.

Based on your listening habits and assuming music streamed at 128kbps, here’s what your 3G cost would be:

Hours of streaming per month510152025
Bandwidth used (MB)281.25562.5843.7511251406.25
Approx annual cost based on current tarrifs (Rs)240054006000810010125

If your argument then is that you’re willing to pay this price for the convenience of having access to your music everywhere, I would say you can pay a lower price for a portable media player like an iPod, which you can truly access everywhere unlike over 3G which is only available in some cities and is unpredictable even in cities it’s rolled out (I’ve been a 3G user for almost a year). You actually save money if you buy a media player:

If you listen to..…you could buy…at Rs…and save over 5 years (approx life of device) Rs
5 hrs of music per monthiPod shuffle32006628
10 hrs of music per monthiPod nano 8GB1070011413
15 hrs of music per monthiPod nano 16GB1270011870
20 hrs of music per monthiPod Classic1520017970
25 hrs of music per monthiPod Classic1520026263

The savings calculation factors in a 10% reduction in 3G tarrif every year over 5 years. Of course, iPod is a premium product and the savings would be much higher if you bought a cheaper media player.

The only compelling argument I can think of for streaming music on the cloud is that your music collection is so big that it does not fit in any portable media player (more than 160GB if you consider iPod).

So, before you jump on to the cloud music bandwagon, you might want to figure out what your 3G cost works out to based on your listening habits and compare it against the cost of a suitable media player.