Sync Stories: Kickstarter Project Playnode Takes Distributed Technology to DJs

Playnode BitTorrent Sync

Sync Stories is a column dedicated to our users. Each week, we showcase a different use case for BitTorrent Sync and the personal stories behind it.

Neil Scudder – a developer of digital media distribution systems for the commercial background music industry – shows how Sync has helped to enable a distributed music platform that better fosters the exchange of music between DJs and their clientele.

From Neil: 

It can be difficult to explain a business with an unconventional product. This is something that BitTorrent Inc. and I have in common.

BitTorrent is awesome, and almost nobody understands why. Companies like Netflix or YouTube distribute media to consumers on the Internet from a central server. This model closely resembles traditional broadcast networks, and the idea fits easily into most people’s comprehension of the world. Distribution to each consumer has an expense, and the cost per consumer goes down with the economy of large scale distribution. Good.

What if each consumer did not increase the cost of distribution? It would cost no more to distribute one media file to a million consumers than it did to one. It defies conventional logic, but it is actually a much more natural way to use the Internet than centralized distribution. This is what BitTorrent makes possible, and it has lowered the barrier to entry for individuals to distribute digital media.

A Distributed Model for Music Playlists

Why is this interesting? Since 2007, I have created computer systems for DJs to remotely manage playlists in commercial environments such as restaurants and bars. I chose to use a centralized model because at first, there was only one DJ and one client. By the time there were 5 DJs and 400 clients, it became clear that decentralization would offer numerous benefits.

The strength of a DJ is in their particular music library and how they know it better than anyone else. While the centralized distribution model would bring in multiple DJs under the umbrella of one music supply service, a decentralized model would allow DJs to serve their particular brand of cool directly to those who want it.

Technology can free us from old world models of owner/labourer and enable contractor/client relationships. This is why I created the Playnode. It’s intended to improve on the corporate distribution system with a decentralized tool to be used by individual DJs operating at any scale.

Playnode BitTorrent Sync

The advantage for business owners is not being tied to one music supplier with each piece of hardware. The Playnode allows the leasing of music selections from multiple DJs, each for a period of time and at a price set by the DJ. The business owns the hardware, but the DJ owns the music – a relationship strictly enforced with encryption.

Playnode required a file transfer solution that would work for a single DJ with one client, working from anywhere, on any type of computer, with any quality of internet connection. The solution would have to scale to serve a larger number of clients without requiring a central server.

Playnode BitTorrent Sync

BitTorrent Sync was the only option that made sense. The tool provided an easy way to start, and the Sync API offered us a way to tailor the end-user experience just the way we need it. There would be no central storage server costs, no significant bandwidth usage, and no significant development of any kind in order to start using the system right away, and scale to any size.

Sync is the kind of technology that empowers the individual more than ever before. Along with the Raspberry Pi, Linux and open source software, BitTorrent has made the Playnode possible and provided an opportunity to disrupt the market of background music to benefit both DJs and small business.

Playnode launched on Kickstarter on September 29. Pricing starts at $89.

To support the project, please visit: 

Kickstarter Playnode BitTorrent Sync