Hands-on: Tubeify mashes YouTube, Billboard, and Last.fm
While YouTube offers its own solution for music-lovers, it is not ideal if you're more of a listener. After all, YouTube leans towards watching videos, and its interface is geared toward that task. Still, YouTube does carry an awful lot of musical content, and there must be a better way to harness this wealth of content and make it into a personalized radio of sorts. Indeed, this is what Tubeify attempts to do.
The service is invite-only at this point, but I got my invite immediately upon asking for it. I then took it for an extensive spin, and produced the gallery which you can see at the end of this post.
While YouTube does carry a ton of music, it doesn't have everything. For example, a simple search for King Crimson completely stumped the system. It came up with the Last.fm record for the album, but since YouTube did not contain even a single track, it wasn't very useful.
This is one area where Tubeify excels, thanks to the tight integration with Last.fm. When you first access the site, you get a default search showing what's popular in your region. Then, as soon as you start searching for your own music, Tubeify offers handy auto-completion down to the track level.
Another nice touch is that Tubeify saves your searches with a "Search" icon, so you can easily refer back to them.
Browsing for Music
While the integration with Last.fm helps when searching for music, browsing for music is done mostly via Billboard charts. When you click Top Charts with Time Travel you get Billboard Hot 100, Billboard Radio, and Billboard Pop Top 40. Clicking a single track loads an entire Billboard Radio playlist, and the track you selected starts playing. That's fairly irritating -- I'd be happier if clicking a track simply added it to the queue, rather than interrupting what I'm currently jamming to.
The Top Charts view also has a timeline running down its right side. Don't let the screenshot throw you: while months aredisplayed, the timeline only lets you drill down to the year level. Meaning, Dec 2001 is the only month I could see from 2001. Interesingly, when I tried getting to Dec 2001 again, I could only see May 2001.
The timeline stretches all the way back to 1965, but when you go that far back you'll only see the Billboard Hot 100. Trying to click the two additional charts the system offered results in weird error messages.
This is YouTube, need I say more? Audio quality is extremely hit-and-miss, with lots of songs sounding fairly awful. Some songs do sound fine, but this won't be replacing your carefully curated collection of FLAC albums anytime soon.
Tubeify is still a work-in-progress, and it shows. Other than the two aforementioned error messages, I also noticed a weird string of characters in the search box more than once. The service does work, but it feels like it still has quite a way to go.
Unless you really like the video thumbnails, Grooveshark wins, hands down.