Powerful, Web-friendly media indexing?
April 23, 2008 3:36 PM   Subscribe

I work on the production team for a long-running public radio program. We have a massive archive of shows in digital format (MP3 and AIFF) which we need to collate into a powerful and highly flexible database - something like iTunes, but much more advanced. Does a program exist to do this?

The program should meet the following criteria:

- Simple interface (usable by audio pros and administrative staff alike)
- Resides on a server (audio files can be shared and accessed on-demand by multiple users)
- Web-interfaceable (outside users can log on and access database via the Web)
- Streaming and preview capability (users can listen to files before pulling from server)
- Flexible indexing and search (can be searched or sorted by media type, artist, show name, etc.)
- Permissions capabilities (files are "read-only" to most, but read/write to certain key staff)
- Supports (and, preferably, generates) ID3 and other media tags

At the moment, it is strictly for internal use only, but there is some possiblity that we will convert it into a storefront in the future so folks can buy archived shows directly from the database ... but I'm not worried about that right now.

Is there a really high-powered media indexing program that can do all of these things? Or at least a significant subset of them?
posted by mykescipark to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The SlimServer (now renamed Squeeze Center) will do most of the web-based functions you're looking for, runs on any number of operating systems, and interfaces with a number of software and hardware MP3 players for streaming. The problem is that the SlimServer reads files out of normal directories; while it can stream tracks to a remote device, actual sound file upload and download capabilities are usually handled via FTP or SMB (Windows or Samba file sharing) -- I don't believe there are "quick download" or "quick upload" capabilities, and the permissions may not be quite as granular as you'd like. That being said, it's open source and written in Perl, so those things can be hacked in by some Perly person if they're not to your liking

There are a few other apps out there, but none I'm aware that truly wrap all of the requirements you have together. I'm a big fan of a Calliope, an MP3 web jukebox application similar to SqueezeCenter, but it's substantially more difficult to set up than SqueezeCenter and has the same caveats regarding uploads and downloads.
posted by eschatfische at 4:21 PM on April 23, 2008

Best answer: Broadly, the category of software you are talking about is called "Enterprise Content Management" (ECM). More specifically, you're talking about "Digital Asset Management" (DAM).

Most ECM suites, despite dealing primarily with text or image data, can store MP3 files -- essentially they'll store anything, it's just a chunk of bytes with associated metadata -- but the difference between general ECM and more specialized DAM is that the latter has tools for dealing with audio/video files, doing streaming on the playback end, etc.

Do you have a budget for doing this? If you do, it's totally within the realm of ECM/DAM system development; I can't give you a cost estimate but it wouldn't be hard for you to get one. Most ECM suites are sold as quasi-COTS; you buy the base system and then pay someone to customize it to meet your exact requirements.

But if you're operating on a zero or near-zero budget and are basically looking for a free or totally-COTS tool that you can deploy without any customization, I'm not aware of anything that would meet your requirements. I think you're asking quite a bit of any product that's designed for home use, especially when you get into lots of simultaneous users and large volumes of stored data.

IMO, it's going to be much harder and in the long run more expensive to take a jukebox application and try to customize it and make it scale, than it would be to take a generic, well-designed piece of information-management software and make it index MP3s. The former is a major architectural/design issue if the software isn't designed properly, the latter is basically tweaking details but not the core functionality.

If you think this is something you're interested in investigating and want some specific recommendations of products to look into (I have a bias, admittedly, which is why I won't plug anything here), let me know.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:38 PM on April 23, 2008

Greenstone Digital Library Software is an open source tool for digital asset management that scales to large library collections; it's being used for a number of music archiving projects

I don't know it well, but I've been meaning to look seriously at it for a similar solution
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:05 PM on April 23, 2008

(Which leads me to ask if anyone has experience with Greenstone as a piggyback on the thread)
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:09 PM on April 23, 2008

Best answer: Some people seem to be using ampache for this.
posted by alikins at 9:50 PM on April 23, 2008

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