The new platform is a Flex and ActionScript API that will let developers create customized music players, access activity data and build things like recommendation engines, smart playlists and music games.
The apps built on the platform will be limited at first to a sandbox with no public directory but the company hopes to send apps live site-wide, to other OpenSocial networks and then to the world at large. It all sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
Video and photo data will also be accessible via the API.
Good Signs Imeem Could Explode
The Imeem user experience is a good one - the company claims nearly 26 million users and 65 thousand new registered users every day. The fact that they have licensing deals with all four major labels and "80% of the indy music market" means you can find almost anything you'd like on the site and listen to it for free. The site is trouncing Last.fm in traffic and perhaps will win some more press eyeballs to go with all its users now that it's offering a platform.
The company has been around for more than three years, has raised an undisclosed sum of venture funding and was started by people from companies like Napster and Tivo. Imeem acquired Napster founder Sean Fanning's Snocap late last year.
In a December article predicting that 2008 will be "the Year of Free," Mark Mulligan of Jupiter Research called Imeem's wrapping up its licensing wish-list "perhaps the least heralded yet most significant development" of 2007.
The company had some pretty uninspired answers to my questions about data portability, but did say that they hoped their music service could someday play the kind of role that Amazon's S3 plays for other data.
In order to get to that point, though, they believe they need to prove to the major record labels they license from that there are a good number of software developers who want to "do the right thing." That too is rather unconvincing as by most accounts the record labels are learning fast that free digital distribution is the direction things are going in. They just need to know that they'll get their money. The Imeem player is already distributable, but we'll see how things play out.
Imeem seems to be doing a good job of getting them their money, but perhaps that's not as true as it seems and the closed platform is necessary to try and figure out new monetization mechanisms.
Watch that space and in particular watch to see if the massive Imeem app platform can jump the fence and run wild around the rest of the web.
Check out this embedded playlist below, for me at least it's bandwidth challenged right now. Seeqpod is running circles around it tonight, but Imeem has been working well for me most of the afternoon. After pressing play and waiting a couple of times I see now that these are just 30 second clips, unlike the players on-site where you can listen to whole songs. Seeqpod seems cooler, but they are being sued.
In fact, this embedded player from Imeem was so bad I had to remove it. The on-site experience is great, though. Someday, hopefully, the announcement made tonight will lead to Imeem living outside its own walls.