In the old days, when people had stereos (remember those), if you wanted to listen to a friend’s music collection, you had to go to their house. Today, you check out their iLike playlists on Facebook, their Last.fm profile, or any of dozens of other social music sharing widgets and Websites. Now you can add Reble.FM to that list. Reble.FM is free software you download to your desktop that lets you stream songs from any friend’s PC that is also online and is running the Reble.FM client. It just launched in public beta today. Says founder and key-coder Nick Meyer:
Playing music on my friend’s computer should feel just like playing a song on my hard-drive, and you should be able to add any of your friends’ music to playlists. That’s what we’re going for with Reble.
Reble is a scrappy YCombinator startup. The software is built on the Jabber open-source instant messaging platform You are basically IMing with your friends and hooking into their iTunes or other music library. You can only see the music of friends on your contact list, and can only stream a song if no one else is listening to it at the same moment. It is a one-to-one system.
But the more friends you invite, the bigger the music library that you can access. The software only works on Windows machines right now, and only streams DRM-free MP3s. Eventually, it will let you buy songs that you like from digital music stores like iTunes or Amazon.
The download-only client will be a nonstarter for some users, especially since there are many other Web-based options for sharing your playlists with your friends. It does beat uploading all your songs to some Website, or only being able to listen to a random shuffle of your friends’ songs. But even the Web-based music sharing services are making on-demand music streaming possible. Last.fm, for instance, now lets you stream any song three times in full before reverting to its default random shuffle. For those of you who try out Reble, please tell us your impressions in comments.