Since the launch of YouTube’s API and the release of Seeqpod, we’ve seen many sites emerge that allow users to create playlists of their favorite songs that can be streamed free of charge. Unfortunately, this can be a tedious task – oftentimes users are forced to recreate the playlists they already have in iTunes because the sites lack an upload function. SonicSwap, a startup that launched this week, has addressed this issue by creating a free streaming music site that can monitor a user’s iTunes music library, adjusting playlists in real time and effectively giving users access to their entire iTunes library from any computer.
The site features an interface that is nearly identical to iTunes (CEO Dan Skilken says that his artists redrew the familiar icons, but it’s tough to tell). Users can access their playlists on the left side of the screen and the main panel on right has a list of songs, with the video/music player controls at the top. The site pulls audio and video through the YouTube API, and while it comes up with a few false matches (playing back bad cover versions or karaoke), in general it is speedy and accurate.
To use the use the dynamically updating feature, users download a SonicSwap plugin that is available for both Mac and Windows. The plugin monitors songs that are currently playing as well as changes in iTunes playlists (including Smart Playlists), and frequently updates the user profile on the site. If you’re not comfortable installing a plugin, you can also upload your iTunes Music Library.XML file, but you’ll have to manaully do this each time you want to sync your SonicSwap library with iTunes.
Users can make their profiles public, so anyone can access their music library, or they can restrict it to only friends (or just to themselves). And in the next few weeks the site will roll out a widget that allows users to embed entire library and playlists as widgets into their blogs and social networks. The site generates revenue by driving traffic to iTunes and Amazon’s online stores.
For those that aren’t interested in uploading their playlists – with a plugin or otherwise- SonicShare is still worth checking out. It has a very well done interface, and seems to work just as well as its competitors, which include Songza, Favtape, and Streamzy. Another site that focuses on playlists is UPlayMe, which has created a playlist-centric social network.