Indy - Independent music made easy

May 09, '05 11:30:00AM

Contributed by: robg

Indy icon The macosxhints Rating:
9 of 10
[Score: 9 out of 10]

I don't have a very long commute to work -- it's only a few mile drive each way. So I don't have a ton of radio listening time. And when I'm working at my machine, I've gotten in the (bad?) habit of just listening to the music I already own, instead of trying some of the iTunes streaming radio stations. As such, my exposure to new music is much less than it's been in years past.

Enter Indy. Indy is a cool new (to the Mac) application that is something like "smart radio" for indepedent music. As seen at left, Indy presents a simple one-panel interface for you to work with: volume control, prev/play-pause/next track buttons, song information (click on this section to jump to the artist's web page), and five rating stars. Though it's not the best-looking Mac interface I've seen, it's not too bad.

The rating stars are the key to the Indy system. As you listen to a track, click anywhere from one to five stars to rate the song being played. Songs that you rate only one or two stars will stop playing immediately; those rated three to five will play through to the end. These ratings are fed back to the Indy service, and over time, you'll start hearing more music that's similar to tracks you've rated higher in the past. Indy contains no spyware or adware (a quick look with Ethereal showed some back-and-forth traffic to their servers, but obviously, that's needed to download new stuff and communicate ratings on old stuff). When running, Indy seems to take use about the same amount of CPU as does iTunes, which is about 5% on my G5.

All songs are stored locally in an Indy folder (and the in individual "star level" folders) inside your user's Music folder. While Indy is running, all songs are cached there. Using Indy's preferences, you can control how much drive space Indy will use for each level of rating -- by default, the one- and two-star levels are set to zero, and Indy will delete those folders' contents when you quit the program. You can independently set the amount of disk space to be used for each level.

Since you're diving into the big world of music in general, it's quite likely you'll hear a lot of stuff you don't like. At least, you will at first. I've only been running Indy for a few days, but I've noticed that more and more of what I hear is more to my liking than what I was getting at first. I've already found a few artists whose music I clearly never would have heard, and have added them to my iTunes library. I still tend to listen to my own music most of the time, but Indy has helped broaden my horizons already, and done so quite painlessly.

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