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With Winamp in mind, Imeem announces developer strategy

The social-media site, which focuses on ad-supported streaming music, invites developers to contribute to its service and potentially make it more user-friendly.

This post was updated at 9:00 AM on Tuesday to make it clear that Imeem's platform is technically "live."

Social media service Imeem has announced the Imeem Media Platform, a set of APIs (application programming interfaces) and tools so that outside developers and partners can contribute to the site. The APIs will give developers access to media on the site (music, video, and photos), the media player interface, the music recommendation engine, and playlist-creation tools, among other things.

While the platform itself is technically "live," it's in a very preliminary phase, Imeem founder Dalton Caldwell told CNET Right now, all that's out is the documentation and tools for developers to start experimenting. "This is like step one," Caldwell said. An application directory, as well as OpenSocial compatibility, will come later.

The Imeem Media Platform, Caldwell said, was inspired in part by Winamp, the media player software that gained popularity in the Web's early days in part because it was "hackable" and welcomed developer plug-ins and extensions. (Winamp parent company Nullsoft was acquired by AOL way back in 1999.)

"The reason I was a fan (of Winamp) was because it was extensible," Caldwell said. With Imeem's new developer tools, he hopes that Imeem enthusiasts with some tech expertise will be able to make the service better, and perhaps combat complaints that Imeem's interface isn't user-friendly. "We think it'd be really great if someone built, like, a smart playlist creator so you could type in your favorite artists...and (Imeem would) create an automatic playlist for you."

Caldwell also named a few other examples: a "name that tune" or music trivia game, for example, or a way for music blogs to customize the Imeem players embedded on their sites.

While it still pales in comparison to the MySpaces and Facebooks of the world, Imeem has come a long way since the identity crisis that re-branded it from an oddball instant-messaging client to a social network in 2006. The site now claims 24 million unique visitors per month, and has streaming music deals in place with all four major record labels.