The team behind SeeqPod, a music search and recommendation engine, believes strongly in what they call "playable search." SeeqPod trawls the web, indexing all the music files it finds, and then offers them for playback direct from that location. The company knows that because they are not hosting any music files, but are merely offering links to them, they can neatly sidestep copyright and legal concerns.

The homepage is reminiscent of Google's original unadorned page with just a simple search form. The vital difference,is that SeeqPod also displays a sample of current music being indexed by its engine. These songs are meant to draw you in, and succeed at it. There's something mesmerising about watching track after track scroll by.


The SeeqPod homepage.

Searching

Quick searches for my favorite artists consistently brought up dozens of tracks. When more obscure artists aren't found, SeeqPod promises to look for them. All search results can be added to a playlist, either audio or video. Playlists can be named, shared and saved, although the latter requires an account.

The site offers numerous options for interacting with a track including the ability to share, embed or delete them. There are also options to find out more about the track like its lyrics, blogs that it appears on, and MySpace and Wikipedia entries. Some tracks give users the option to buy them on Amazon, check tour dates or even download it as a ring tone.

Hands down the best feature, though, is "discover." SeeqPod uses their own patented algorithms that "analyze and mimic the way people make associations, using a biomimetic approach revealing direct, indirect & hidden connections between different objects." In practice, that means that SeeqPod can tell me that Pearl Jam is associated with both Temple of the Dog and Mother Love Bone - which is pretty good given the intertwined history of those bands. Using the discover feature can help lead you to new music that relationships SeeqPod has figured out suggest you will enjoy.


Each track has numerous options.

Potential

SeeqPod has a lot of potential. It is fun, interesting and useful, and I already find myself using it daily. The whole site is built in Flash, which makes song interaction and playing very smooth and easy. There are some simple implementation issues such as tracks that cut out - which is incredibly frustrating, but may be due to the source files rather than SeeqPod itself. The biggest downfall for me is the lack of recommendation on the fly. You need to find your own tracks and queue them, there is no radio option a la Pandora.

I may have been spoiled (or possibly corrupted) by all the social networking sites out there, but I'd love to be able to find other users. I can share my playlists specifically with friends and SeeqPod offers a number of ways to do that, but I'd love to just be able to check out what other cool music my friends have found without them having to initiate it, or be able to find friends based on common musical interests.

Open for play

SeeqPod also has an API which offers access to its search results and, more importantly, to its recommendations capabilities. So far documentation is limited, but coding for it looks straightforward.

The site also has a bunch of experimental products under development, such as an iPhone app. Being an Aussie, I have no access to that particular device, but I'd love to hear what iPhone users think of it!

SeeqPod is a very exciting product. The combination of massive search index and immediately playable files is a big winner with everybody I've talked to. "Playable search" may be the future, but even if SeeqPod is wrong, they have a very cool useful site that's great to use right now.