What's the catch?
December 9, 2011 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Is audiogalaxy.com a legitimate service? If so, how can something this impressive not be more well known? What's the catch?

I recently discovered the site audiogalaxy.com and checked out the service it offers. Basically, you sign up for a free account, then direct the site to the music folder on your local hard-drive. It scans the entire folder, no matter how large the music collection is, then it compiles the collection on its website so that you can stream from your local drive to any internet enabled device. That means you can sign in from any computer or Android phone and listen to your music files on your home computer via 3G or wi-fi. My question is, is this really a legitimate service? I've tried it out and it appears to work perfectly. But it definitely seems like one of those things that's too good to be true. How can something this good be free and legal? Also, if it's genuine, then why is it not more popular? It seems something like this should be useful to millions of people.

So can anyone tell me if they've had experience with this site? It has over 12,000 ratings on the Android Market, but that's not enough to stop me feeling nervous about something which seems too good to be true.
posted by Spamfactor to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have no idea whether that particular service is legit, but Google and Amazon both have services that do what you're describing.
posted by decathecting at 7:47 PM on December 9, 2011

Hmmm, I seem to remember audio galaxy being a Napster type service back in the day (that day being the very early 2000's)
posted by TwoWordReview at 7:49 PM on December 9, 2011 [8 favorites]

In the olden days (early 00s) Audiogalaxy was a service that scanned your music folder... and then made it available for download by your peers. So I'm guessing that their shift to a cloud based music service was their approach to keep their brand but, um, be legal.
posted by telegraph at 7:50 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah sorry I should have clarified, I know that there are several services such as Google and Amazon which provide this functionality, but they don't do it for free. For example, Amazon allows you to stream music from its cloud service, but it only offers 5GB for free, the rest is paid. It's a $500 a year for 500GB of music. This website is completely free however, and there's no real limit on how big your library can be. That's what confuses me
posted by Spamfactor at 7:51 PM on December 9, 2011

It was indeed, TWR.

The legality of this seems pretty non-suspect to me. The service presumes you have purchased the rights to listen to the music files on your computer, so the format in which you listen to them shouldn't be legally relevant. I guess they're just making the gamble that their ad revenue > their costs of streaming the music + the legal fees from defending claims that they are either engaging in or enabling breaches of copyright.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:53 PM on December 9, 2011

(I believe this is essentially how iTunes Match works, as an example of a more established business using the model.)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:56 PM on December 9, 2011

I don't know anything about the service, but Wikipedia has a summary of its background that is at least worth reading.
posted by dfriedman at 7:56 PM on December 9, 2011

It seems to be just, essentially streaming the music from your computer with some middleman metadata jiggery (playlists/categories etc). IIRC even WinAmp has something similar.
posted by edgeways at 8:05 PM on December 9, 2011

It doesn't stream it from your computer. It verifies that your copy on your computer is legitimate, then streams it to you elsewhere from their company cloud.
posted by yesster at 8:21 PM on December 9, 2011

From their FAQ:

Does my computer need to be on to listen to my music?

Yes, the computer where your Audiogalaxy Helper is running needs to be on. Audiogalaxy streams music directly from your computer to your mobile device, or to other computers where you are logged in. If your computer is off, your music will not be available.

posted by edgeways at 8:30 PM on December 9, 2011

This is what Lala.com used to do before Apple bought it and shut it down (GIVE ME BACK MY LALA, YOU JERKS). It was legal then, or at least seemingly unchallenged.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:32 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

my bad. thx edgeways. would think my model would work better.
posted by yesster at 8:38 PM on December 9, 2011

probably would, but someone would need some massive storage a la Amazon or some such. Hell I have 200GB in music and I suspect I am a piker by some standards.
posted by edgeways at 8:41 PM on December 9, 2011

my bad. thx edgeways. would think my model would work better.

There are some legal/IP issues with this, I think (in the US, at least)
posted by downing street memo at 8:42 PM on December 9, 2011

If you are worried about going through a 3rd party, the other option is to set up Dynamic DNS for your home machine, and stream from it yourself using Subsonic or similar programs. (Subsonic has web based, standalone, Android, and iPhone clients.)
posted by fings at 9:13 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I second SubSonic. The android client is pretty nice and the web interface isn't too kludgy.
posted by tmt at 11:56 PM on December 9, 2011

FYI, Subsonic requires that you donate in order to use the mobile app after a trial period.
posted by tmt at 11:57 PM on December 9, 2011

Amazon costs $20/yr for unlimited mp3 & aac storage & 20GB for non-music files.


posted by askmehow at 4:17 AM on December 10, 2011

Because it's streaming your exact music from your own computer, they're pretty much in the clear and have to pay no royalties to do so. If they store your music for you and deduplicate it, thanks to the (IMO) absolutely stupid UMG v. MP3.com decision, the waters are quite murky for the cloud music service that don't pay royalties (Apple's iTunes Match does).
posted by zsazsa at 4:51 AM on December 10, 2011

Audio Galaxy is awesome and underrated. Their iOS software works great. They make some money by charging for additional features such as being able to download tracks from your PC to your device. They aren't storing the tracks for you so there is less expense running the service compared to what Amazon and Google are doing. They are basically a middleman facilitating remote access to your music collection. I have tried other apps with a similar concept but none has worked nearly as well as Audio Galaxy.
posted by jmsta at 5:04 AM on December 10, 2011

I use the android app. As others have said, it streams from your specific computer to your specific device, and is thus AFAIK legal. I love it dearly.
posted by contrarian at 4:15 PM on December 10, 2011

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