Remember how long it took Spotify to end up in the States? The issue? Music rights, of course. Before it could make its way to our shores, the service had to strike deals with a bunch of record labels, making sure the artists, the executives and EMI janitorial staffs all get paid. Whyd, a new French music service that will be clawing its way out of beta later this month, offers a bit of a workaround to that conundrum, pulling music from sources like YouTube and SoundCloud, aggregating them into a single dynamic location. That means that all content can be brought in, from some kid playing acoustic originals in her bedroom to long time music streaming holdouts like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
Once you signed in via Facebook or created a new account, you get started with the search field at the top of the page. From here, you'll find tracks posted by other users. Click on a track and you can watch / listen, Like it, add it or post it to Twitter or Facebook. Songs that are added pop up on the Your Tracks page, a sort of central hub for the site. Playing the tracks from here will pop up a toolbar on the bottom of the page that lets you pause, scroll through the track and skip between songs. For the sake of organization, it's also possible to divide songs into different playlists.
If you don't find a track you like through that method, the big, green plus button at the top of the page lets you search through YouTube and SoundCloud among other party sites. Plenty of the songs I went hunting for weren't available through the standard search bar, but, not surprisingly, were numerous when looking through YouTube's collections -- of course, as ever with YouTube, there's the standard quality disclaimer here: there's a decent chance you're not getting the same studio quality tracks you're going to see on a Spotify. Again, these things are user-uploaded.
If you do opt to pull the track in, it'll show your name and profile pic next to the song. This is where the social functionality comes in -- from here, you can subscribe to fellow users, which will populate your own stream with their newly added tracks, bringing new songs to your attention when you visit the Whyd font page.
The stream is really at the center of the service's functionality, and as such, it's not as full featured as a Spotify or a Rhapsody, and certainly making playlists of every track isn't quite as user friendly as listening to full artist for album playlists on those all you can eat services. What the service does offer, however, is a nice little bookmarklet. Drag it up to your browser's toolbar and it will search pages like Facebook for songs and videos to import.
Whyd's certainly an intriguing little product -- and a well built one. It's got a nice, clean UI and great playback capabilities. It's not the great music repository of an Rdio, but it'll give you those hard-to-find tracks that, for whatever reason, haven't made their way to more mainstream services. The site could, however, potentially be cursed by its own success. If it does achieve mainstream popularity, song owners may not take kindly to its gray market approach to song discovery.