Audiogalaxy, one of the original music file-sharing services and “one of the greatest defunct websites of all time,” marked its return today with a new approach that gives users an alternative to the likes of Google Music and Pandora. And this time it’s playing by the record industry’s rules.
The Seattle-base startup has been testing the reborn Audiogalaxy service for months under the leadership of original Audiogalaxy founder Michael Merhej and partners Tom Kleinpeter and Viraj Mody. They made it official today and launched a key new feature at the same time.
“It’s almost a homecoming, coming back to Audiogalaxy,” says Merhej, who started Audiogalaxy as a student at the University of Texas at Austin in the late 1990s. That first incarnation was shut down in 2002, following a dispute with the recording industry.
Merhej went on to found and lead FolderShare, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2005 to become Windows Live Sync.
The core of the reborn Audiogalaxy service allows users to stream their own music from their computers to their mobile devices. The big catch is that users need to leave their computers on to make it work, but the free service avoids the need to upload tracks to a cloud service.
Today the company is adding a new feature called Mixes that uses a proprietary algorithm to personalize an Internet radio stream for users, from a large catalog of songs licensed by Audiogalaxy under webcasting rights, Merhej says. That personalization algorithm is a “secret sauce” based on factors including the songs in the user’s collection, he says.
Playback of mixes on the web is free, but mobile access to the mixes requires a monthly subscription of $12 for 3 months or $36 for a year.