Mixlr, a sort-of UStream for audio, wants to make it easy for DJs and bands to share and stream live performances to fans. The service, founded by London-based Rob Watson (a recent graduate of the Music Informatics department at the University of Sussex), is currently in a closed beta, although TechCrunch Europe has 200 invites to give away to readers.
In its current incarnation, Mixlr is a pretty simple offering, although that’s partly by design. Comprising of a Mac-only client (although a Windows and iPhone app is planned), users can plug-in any audio feed to their Mac and begin live streaming, pushing out a URL of their feed via Twitter, Facebook and MySpace or to share in other ways. Live performances can also be uploaded, archived, and tagged (including location), as well as sent to a SoundCloud account, a service that Mixlr both complements and potentially competes with.
In terms of revenue, each user gets an introductory number of live streaming minutes and unlimited bandwidth for playback, after which they can buy top up minutes, such as £4.99 for a further 4 hours. As DJ sets tend to be quite lengthy, this could soon add up, although many artists will be glad to do away with the interruption of audio ads that other services rely on or the high costs and complexity of setting up their own streaming server. That’s the hope anyway.
That said, the first thing that struck me when I began looking into Mixlr is the issue of copyright: DJ sets and live acts (to a lesser degree) are often filled with music whose copyright is owned by a third-party. It’s therefore no surprise that Mixlr’s terms of service are filled with references to it being a “host/service provider” or a “conduit”, therefore protected by safe harbour, and that users must have the permission of copyright holders for any material that they broadcast or upload. Watson is also keen to stress that Mixlr will respect any take-down notices and that SoundCloud doesn’t seem to have run into problems even though it, and similar services, can be and are used by DJs to share mixes.
Moving forward, Mixlr has an iPhone app in the works, which should make it even easier for artists to start sharing a live performance. Apple’s in-app payments will also make it easy for Mixlr to sell broadcasting credits (as well as generating revenue from sales of the app itself), says Watson. Geolocation and search are planned to feature more heavily in a future release by enabling users “to locate live music near to them”.
Mixlr is currently bootstrapped by Watson and has a number of potential competitors, including SoundCloud, Mixcloud, AudioBoo, ipadio etc., although none, he says, precisely replicates the service’s feature-set and/or target market.
The first 200 readers can signup here using the invite code: TECHCRUNCH