U1 Music Store – Store Music in U1?

After the post I made about the Ubuntu One Music Store, I’ve noticed a couple of things which might indicate what’s coming.

Firstly as we know Rhythmbox is the music player of choice in Ubuntu and we can already see the placeholder for the music store in the app.

I noticed something new today though, the “Music” category has a little [+] expander, and when we open that up we can see two options “Music” and “musicstore”.

This is interesting as I’ve never noticed the ‘musicstore’ group before. Perhaps this arrived after I installed the rhythmbox-ubuntuone-music-store package on my system. Lets go and have a rummage.

alan@wopr:~$ dpkg -L rhythmbox-ubuntuone-music-store

Ok, so there’s a new Rhythmbox plugin added called “umusicstore” which makes sense. If we poke about in the python under that we see interesting stuff.

That path ~/.ubuntuone/musicstore gets added as a Rhythmbox library further down the code:-

Which we can also see in the relevant gconf key for Rhythmbox. The key that gets added by the code above.

Ok, so why is this interesting? Well there’s a couple of things going on here. Rhythmbox is being specifically told about a new location which it should monitor for new tracks. That folder is hidden (it starts with a dot) so it’s not one that an user is expected to be putting files in. If that’s the case then we can only presume that it’s a folder used by the ‘system’ in some way.

If we presume for a moment that the music store plugin will store purchased music in there – which would make sense given the name of the folder – and a user isn’t expected to be putting data in there then it must mean we aren’t going to be downloading music via a browser (given the difficulty of finding that location – it’s hidden remember), but instead this would happen in the background, directly from the store to that folder.

So assume that’s the case, that the music store will magically put your music in ~/.ubuntuone/musicstore. When we were at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Texas last year one of the items on the spec for Ubuntu One in Lucid was the ability for folders outside of ~/Ubuntu One/ to be synchronised with the U1 file syncing service. Assuming that is still on the cards then it’s not a massive leap to conclude that ~/.ubuntuone/musicstore/ could be synced with your U1 file syncing account.

Now, the next logical conclusion is if all that is true and it’s possible for users to nominate folders for syncing with U1 then it makes no sense for the user to have to manually nominate that hidden folder for synchronisation does it? It makes more sense for the folder to be automatically synced when you enable the Ubuntu One Music Store.

If that’s true then that would be fantastic news. If this conclusion is right then you will be able to navigate the store within Rhythmbox (just like iTunes does) and buy music directly inside Rhythmbox, and as soon as the download is finished, the music will automagically appear on every other machine you sync to.

A significant benefit to this theory is that it makes the ‘only 3 downloads’ limit of 7digital largely irrelevant. If you download tracks which become synced to the cloud for you and then optionally (if you have more than one computer) sync back down to other machines, you have a built in backup service. We get the benefit of an in-player store that the Mac and Windows have had for years, without the nasty vendor lock-in of iTunes, which causes issues if you break/lose your computer. With U1 you could lose your computer, get a new one, sign into U1 and bam you got your music back, and that won’t even eat into another one of the 3-download-only limit.

Of course the side-benefit of this for Canonical is the demand for space on the U1 file sync service will rise and thus so will their revenue. So everyone wins.

All this from reading a few lines of python. Is it a bit of a stretch of the imagination?

3 Other Comments

31 thoughts on “U1 Music Store – Store Music in U1?”

  1. The placement of the hidden folder status is a bit odd. Is that going to also be added into the xdg definition for where music lives so that other applications other than rhythmbox can be instructed via xdg settings to look in that hidden folder?

    Without xdg being told to include that directory this makes finding that music via any other application other than rhythmbox much more difficult for the novice user. I would have thought this would have been placed as a subfolder under the default xdg music directory. This sort of breaks the purpose of having xdg at all.


    1. I’m not sure it really matters. Given the music store is implemented as a plugin for Rhythmbox, it would be sensible to assume that plugins could be developed for other players. If that’s the case then they can not only ‘find’ the media but also browse the store and do everything else Rhythmbox does.

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      1. that’s a pretty long view to take. And it confuses the act of purchasing which requires a store interface..and the act of listening which does not. There’s no need to make it difficult to listen to music you’ve already purchased just because there isn’t a store plugin for it yet. The location of the hidden folder outside of what xdg can see is an anti-feature.

        And why exactly should the u1 sync just the musicstore purchases by default and not the standard music library that is understood via xdg? If anything Canonical would also want to encourage people to sync music from other sources in order to get them hook on UI and getting them up to the point where they feel a need to shell out cash for the higher capacity account.


        1. I personally wouldn’t want U1 automagically syncing my entire music collection. U1 would be full before it hit 50% of my music, and I don’t want every single song synced to every machine. I have an Eee PC and it only has a 20G disk, so I dont want/need all of my music synced to it.

          This is why U1 will have the feature where you nominate specific folders to be synced. So by default you’d get the U1 store music synced because initially it will be empty, taking up no space from your allocation. In addition you can then tag folders and sync them, but it’s up to you to manage that as you would with any other folder sync.

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  2. To quote 2 unlimited (roughly):
    No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, theres no limits πŸ™‚

  3. Syntax color in Nano?

    It looks like you actually use Nano for code editing.
    If you are looking for a console editor, with syntax highlighting and advanced features (search and replace, tabbed files, auto complete file opener, fragments, etc), but one that uses sane key defaults (alt+s is save for example) you should consider diakonos.

  4. “We get the benefit of an in-player store that the Mac and Windows have had for years, without the nasty vendor lock-in of iTunes, which causes issues if you break/lose your computer. ”

    iTunes music is DRM free. There is no ‘nasty vendor lock-in’, it is just as free as the music Ubuntu is selling.

    1. Maybe lock-in isn’t the right phrase, but what happens when your Mac / Windows PC running iTunes gets lost or stolen? If you reinstall iTunes does it automagically re-download all the music you had previously purchased?

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      1. Last time I’ve read about it you had to contact Apple and explain why would you want to download all the music you have paid for again. But that was a few years back – maybe they have changed their policy?

      2. As I understand it iTunes has no additional downloads feature, so the onus is on you to create backups (which everyone should be doing anyways as relying on the shop to provide an additional download in the future is a bad way to go about things even if that is a commendable feature to offer). That said, if you sync the purchased songs to a iPod device they are effectively backed up as you can get the tracks back off the iPod at a later date.

        1. Wow, okay then, Amie Street is really ahead of the curve. Once you buy a song there, you’re entitled to a download whenever you want. I cannot imagine having to pay for a song again after I already paid. I would definitely pirate in such a situation.

        2. Er…not exactly. On *Linux* you can get the music back off the iPod. On Mac or Windows… well, there are apps out there for sort of erm… breaking into your iPod to rescue the music… but iTunes will NOT let you copy music from the iPod to the computer.

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  5. Hello popey, well, I don’t know too much what to think. On one side I believe it will please some people as it makes it easier to download music, in a way that is integrated and consistent to the rest of the system – which certainly is good.

    In another way, I’ve got the feeling that I haven’t made the choice of using Ubuntu One, nor this particular music store. It is something that comes bundled with the system, I haven’t really the choice of the retailer – it somehow feels like it is being pushed to me. I would compare this a little bit to the way internet explorer is bundled in windows: sure, you can install firefox – but it won’t be as integrated as IE, which will kind of always be there anyway. Microsoft will now have to produce a screen at install time where the user will have the choice of its browser (at least in europe).

    What would be awesome, would be if I wanted to use “online storage” and I would have a number of providers to chose from, who would all integrate in the same way in Ubuntu – if I had the choice to use a “music store” and I can choose from several, which would all integrate in the same manner. A bit like I have the choice in firefox to chose the search engine I prefer. The argument “you can still buy from amazon” is like saying “you can’t put google in Firefox’s neat search box, and have to use bing – but you can still use google of course by going to google.com”. So, with choice, there would be competition, I could pick the one that I prefer – in terms of price, choice, privacy, format – now it’s more like “give or take” approach.

    Anyway, I’ve felt so threatened by the majors lately and they have pushed so many absurd laws in such antidemocratic ways in France that the only good thing I wish them is death. Actually buying stuff from them would prove their point that snooping on a my data transfers made me buy music – so as I am more likely to spend a lot of cash supporting Jamendo, I am probably not the best person to listen to if you want to make cash with selling tracks from EMI and Universal (remember how much they screwed us, the customers, in the past?)

    But then on the other hand, I agree that they still produce some great gigs that I wouldn’t be able to listen to other by buying them. So it’s a bit of a choice between the pragmatic view “I like that band and need to buy from assholes to listen to them, so fair enough” and the idealistic view “these guys screwed me so badly, they wont see a penny from me as long as I live, as much as it might cost me”.

    Most people are pragmatic, and won’t mind using this service, which will provide them with a very good and integrated service – most people also don’t mind about liberty and are happy buying ipods. Some others are ideallists and for them it might be more difficult to see this service pre-installed in Ubuntu.

    Sure, I’d like to help Ubuntu get more cash too. I paid 150Β£ last year for support (if it wasnt 250 actually) – and am likely to do it again this year, maybe that’d help. Hopefully Canonical will prove next year that they still have my best interest in mind πŸ™‚

    1. Bundling software itself is not bad, nor unfair.

      Microsoft’s crime is not that it gave you free copies of software with Windows. The crime is that they prevented competitors from acting as equal rivals on the Windows platform – such as, ex., through vendor deals which punished companies that wanted to ship non-Microsoft software on OEM computers, or through deliberate intimidation of other companies to cripple their own products, or intentional flaws in Windows to prevent competing software from working as well.

      As their punishment, the EU has arguably overreacted – Microsoft should not, in my eyes, have to give advertising for its competitors by helping them distribute their own software.

      This is an aside. There is nothing wrong with bundling your own software with a product you create, as long as you don’t try to subvert your competitors from offering their own solutions.

    2. I quite agree with you Yann πŸ™‚

      Many people will want to use the bundled / integrated services and/or support Canonical at the same time by buying from those, and thus, will support companies they probably don’t want to. Instead of creating something new with a different spirit, we’ll still pay our tax to the big players some of us would like to get rid off πŸ˜‰

      Of course, this is always more complicated than that, because none of them is really inherently “good or evil”.

      Also, this is always a matter of choice. Of course, but for “average consumer” (not so average if he knows about linux ;-), Linux=Canonical=Ubuntu=…Yahoo=7Digital in the end πŸ˜‰

    3. But you do have a choice of online retailer! U1, Jamendo, or Magnatune: 3 right there! Jamendo and Magnatune are the two music stores that have been included for as long as I can remember. U1 is simply adding a 3rd option.

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  6. if you look at the preferences of ubuntu one in lucid, you’ll see the option of – “file synchronization – music download”.

  7. hey popey πŸ™‚

    off topic!
    it’s megadeth not megadeath.

    on topic!
    this is great I really would love to have a music store within Rhythmbox.

  8. You might see a deal with 7digital and Canonical to allow Canonical to mirror the entire 7digital library. Then they need only keep a single copy of every song. And if they do that, then they might choose not to count music purchased from the store against your limit. Would encourage people to buy from the store.

    They might do something like that already. Dropbox, for example, doesn’t store multiple copies of identical files. If somebody has already uploaded the file, then they just make a link to that copy.

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