Finetune - The next generation of online music with Apollo and Flash

If you're a music fan with an internet connection, Finetune will quickly become your favorite destination. They're leveraging almost all aspects of the Flash Platform, including Apollo, to give you music from their website, on your blogs, on your desktop and on your Wii.
Written by Ryan Stewart, Contributor

I have always been a big user of Pandora. I think it's a great way to find and listen to music and I've spent many a long nights coding to the music that Pandora decides to play. I've purchased CDs because of Pandora and I've tried to hook my entire family on it (with decent success). It's also a great example of OpenLaszlo at work. But this month I've found something that is heads and tails better than Pandora: Finetune. If all you want to do is browse to a site and listen to music, Pandora does a pretty good job and it will always be great for its simplicity. However Finetune has both the simple "browse and listen" model as well as advanced features that will leave audiophiles amazed and coming back for more. In almost every category Finetune outdoes Pandora.

Finetune has a team that evolved out of NextRadio Solutions, so they have a lot of experience in the space. They contracted Teknision, a design firm in Canada, to develop the technology behind the player. At it's core, it is a social music application but it has a lot of features that foster a bigger community and put more power into the hands of the users. In many ways it combines last.fm's social scene with Pandora's knack for finding good music. It really is the best of both worlds.

Finetune Album Cover
When you browse to the Finetune page, you can type in an artist and start listening just like you would do with Pandora. It finds related artists and songs and then creates a radio station for you. But if you want more with your music, that's where Finetune really shines. By creating an account and logging in you can build, save and share playlists. Now these aren't artist-based playlists (though they can be) . You can actually drill down into a specific performer and choose specific songs for your playlist. You have to have a minimum of 45 songs in a playlist and you're allowed 3 songs per artist. You can pick three of your favorite songs for a performer then browse through Finetune's list of related artists to create a playlist perfectly tailored to you with only the songs you want.


One of the major benefits of Finetune is that it is built on the Flash Platform. Finetune uses Flash Media Server to stream content , the Flash Player for the web player and the Wii version and they are using Flex and Apollo to deploy a version of Finetune on the desktop. They also have a widget that allows you to embed your playlists on a blog or MySpace profile. Finetune for the Wii pulls your stored profile data and gives you access to all of it from the your television. It's the perfect example of how the Flash Platform allows you to extend your reach with very little changes to the code. The Wii version has gone viral and allowed Finetune to reach an audience that would normally have been out of their scope as a simple web application. It is a testament to both how good the application is and how widely distributed the Flash Platform has become. Finetune in many ways is the ideal Rich Internet Application.

The Apollo application is a big part of the Finetune strategy. Phase one of the application will include an express install feature so that the Finetune Desktop application can be quickly installed from any embedded player (including the widget). The Apollo version will be able to load your Finetune profile and give you access to all of your playlists, artist radio stations and tag radio stations. You'll also be able to search the radio stations for artists or tags and create embedded players from any artists, playlist or tag you specify. The Apollo version will feature an option to load an artist radio station based on your iTunes Library helping make the application more relevant based on what you're listening to in iTunes. Finally, you'll be able to collect and save playlists from any of the embedded players you find on the web so that you can easily listen to things you think look interesting.

I can't wait to see how Finetune evolves. Flash gives them so much power to create a great experience that the sky is the limit. They've built an online music service that flies way past anything currently available and they have been able to reach a non web audience with things like the Wii. It is an exciting time for music lovers and Finetune is a good example of why.

For more Finetune Screenshots, check out the gallery.

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