Being a Music Pimp

I’ve had this idea rattling around in the back of my head for some time, and I might as well use this space for creative purposes. While the origins of this idea have their homes in my interactions with musicians in Nashville, the best explanation of the idea is probably in an article by Clay Shirky about the music business.

Collaborative filtering seems to be one of the happy benefits of the Internet. Before, it was pretty hard to get a diverse group of people to ponder things and give you their opinion; while the ‘net isn’t totally diverse [as their economic concerns, not only in barriers to entry but also in having enough leisure time to really invest into the system, which is something that I think many people forget about net.enthusiasts], it’s diverse enough. After a while, people will self-aggregate into various chunks/groups what have you, because we’re innately social despite our innate independence.

One of the things that many folks will be enthusiastic about is music. Folks dig music. Why was Napster so dang popular? Yeah, for one, it was about getting free music. There’s always going to be some people who loaf on the system. But these are the same people who will beg and beg and beg of you to rip them a copy of your CD, which isn’t in and of itself illegal [copying is fair use; copying and distributing isn’t], but it’s questionable. The rise of MP3 as a compression algorithm made digital distribution a viable medium.

Many of my friends trade MP3’s, but they tend to do so outside of the standard filesharing services. They’ll just rip a CD and flip it to you. The idea? You pass along the music that gets your goat, and maybe I’ll like it. And in one group of friends, I’m sure to like music I get from John than Amy. John and I both have a like for singer/songwriters artists of a spiritual bent; Amy isn’t as much into that as she is electronica and disco. [And no, the Newsboys’ concept album, Love, Liberty, Disco, does not bridge that gap.]

This all works just fine amongst us friends, but it’d be nice to scale.

So I’ve got this idea rattling around in my head … [Yeah, I own the domain.] To give it some simple scope, I’ve thought about limiting my initial user pool to the rabid group of users with whom I hang and the discussion pool to a catalog of likely suspects.

Why these limits:

1. Reputation: my users know each other, and they’re likely to invest time in it.

2. Scope: by limiting it to Grassroots’s distribution catalog, I’ve got something that my users will be interested in and a company that’s very likely to work with me.

What seems clear is that I need a database to bridge the gap: to link my users and the catalog. [We use phpBB for our forum, so that userdata’s easily tappable; I’m unsure what kind of backend Grassroots has.]

But, not being a coder, I’m left with nothing more than a vague sense of where to go and some sketches and flow-charts.

Any ideas?

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