San Francisco-based start-up MoodLogic finds itself among dozens of digital music companies fighting an uphill battle. They're all trying to outlast a severe contraction caused by a combination of the general downturn in high-tech fortunes and the protracted legal struggles between the recording industry and Internet ventures.
MoodLogic's technology lets digital music listeners sort and find music based on a wide array of characteristics, including artist, genre, tempo and mood. While the company previously targeted its pitch to portals and online music subscription services, the deal with SonicBlue marks the launch of MoodLogic's new product and strategy geared toward consumer electronic devices.
The company's technology is capable of identifying a song based on its musical "fingerprint," or a digital analysis of the music, allowing the application to recognize tracks that are mislabeled, as Internet music files often are. A "cleanup" feature in the new software lets people automatically correct the track and title information of their desktop audio library.
Under the deal with SonicBlue, Rio players starting next quarter will come bundled with MoodLogic software. Rio users will have the option of using the software on a premium basis; the companies will divide the fee.
"This is a pretty big step in terms of increasing the convenience of interacting with digital music," said Elion Chin, vice president of corporate development for MoodLogic. "We think this will have a major impact in terms of taking digital music mainstream."
The problem MoodLogic originally set out to solve is the sheer quantity of digital music files people have to contend with on the Internet, or even on their own computers. In addition to letting users create playlists according to musical characteristics, the application can create a list of songs similar to one chosen by a listener.
Currently, the company places a link to the Amazon.com music store next to its song recommendations, earning MoodLogic an affiliate's commission from the e-commerce site. MoodLogic plans to extend that affiliate link to other online music sources, potentially including the PressPlay and MusicNet subscription services under development by leading recording, publishing and Internet music companies.
From the computer desktop, where MoodLogic's new application sits, people can download lists to their Rio players. As the Rio and other digital music players gain more memory and functionality, MoodLogic plans to write software that can be used directly on the machines, without using the desktop as an interim step.
MoodLogic currently supports Microsoft's Windows Media Player and MP3. The company plans to add support for other formats in the coming weeks.