Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

I can’t hear you

Posted in Observations by Jacob Zinn on July 9, 2009

When YouTube was officially launched in November 2005, it only took a few months before its popularity multiplied by the summer of 2006. Its design by founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim changed the way we watch videos on the internet; music videos are no longer only available through Yahoo! and hardly anyone streams live footage through RealPlayer.

So why isn’t there a well-established YouTube of audio?

Every MySpace profile has an audio player, usually with some tracks off of a trendy unknown local indie acts debut EP (and a link to the iTunes page for the digital download of said EP).

With the growing popularity of podcasts and programs such as Skype (and to a lesser extent, Übercaster), it’s a wonder why it’s so hard to find an easy audio host.

Not to mention that prank calls and celebrity hissy fits still capture the publics attention. In February, TMZ released an audio recording of Christian Bale losing it on the set of Terminator Salvation, and in November, a prank call to Sarah Palin from a Canadian comedian posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy made its way around the internet and onto news programs.

Most recently, the Michael Jackson and Steve McNair 9-1-1 calls have surfaced on the internet. I’ve been searching Google for a suitable website that hosts audio files with HTML code to embed a player and found about half-a-dozen.

None seem to be compatible with WordPress.

Audioo is a site designed for the exact purpose of hosting audio files the same way YouTube hosts video files. The template is identical, but when the copy-and-paste HTML code is put into WordPress, nothing appears.

Houndbite is similar, but like Audioo, nothing shows up when its code is plugged in.

Odeo collects audio (and video) clips from all over the internet and allows users to listen to them through a player. Creating an account is free, but like the other players, it doesn’t work on WordPress.

Yudu is a free tool for journalists that offers web hosting of audio, video, images and documents, but its player won’t play ball either.

Blip.fm isn’t quite the same–it’s more of a virtual jukebox. It boasts integration with Twitter, FriendFeed, Tumblr and LiveJournal, but it’s front page defines its capabilities: “create your own music station.” You are the DJ, but rather than upload your own content, you pick songs from Blip.fm’s library. It’s just not the same.

• Blip.fm’s biggest competition is IMEEM, “the world’s largest social music service.” It offers millions of songs to stream for free, but it’s no place to upload your own work.

VR+ is a pay program that turns cell phones (namely the iPhone and the BlackBerry) into audio recorders. It can capture an audio clip, then share it via email, Facebook, MySpace Twitter and Blogger–but not WordPress.

• Like VR+, Evoca can record audio through cell phones, but also through your computer microphone and Skype. It also allows previously recorded clips to be uploaded, but like VR+, it’s not free.

What these sites have in common is that not one stands out above the other. Every humour site has its own video player and live video sites like uStream, Qik and Justin.tv. It’s just so easy to get video online.

There are dozens of YouTube copycats–Metacafe, Dailymotion, Google Videos, Revver–but the audio hosts have no one to copy.

I then found out that WordPress only likes using its own audio player, which only supports MP3 files, but can be used for free, as long as the file is hosted elsewhere (unless you purchase a space upgrade for audio abilities).

Until one site establishes itself as the alpha male by allowing audio uploads of any filetype with full integration into todays social networking sites and mobile devices, the rest of us will have to adjust our reception.

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