Free Public Transportation Music Downloads

BoingBoing links to a very cool centralized music sharing service that’s being placed in the London Underground which has some neat implications for advertiser-sponsored free, mobile music sharing services. Dubbed “Undersound,” it’s going to work by allowing users to upload music tracks via Bluetooth at train stations. The tracks will then be tagged, archived on a centralized server and made available for download to other consumers.

While in the carriages of the tube, I can browse undersound music of other people in range. Because the system will be gathering metadata on the stations where the track has been (via uploading/downloading at the transfer points) and thus its spread within the network, the time it has been in the system, the number of times it has been played, the number of people who have played it, and so on, I will be able to see this information when I look at other people’s music. I can browse through other’s tracks anonymously, but if I decide to download a song from someone else an alert will be triggered on their phone letting them know that I am grabbing one of their tracks.

If I’m not mistaken, BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow suggested a similar idea in his book “Eastern Standard Tribe.” That was more of a distributed music sharing service that replaced radios in cars and operated on highways. In the novel, folks would have archives on music on their cars and other people could “tune in” to their station, listening and aggregating each others’ tracks.

A pretty cool idea, all around, especially because the Undersound folks are going to track the movement of music through the underground and display the real-time lifespans and journeys of that music on displays in each station.

Does anyone else think this that systems like this could potentially provide viable marketing or advertising services. Of course, I kinda doubt that people would be interested in trading their favorite advertisements, but certainly advertisements could be tacked onto the end of free music tracks (a la Revver) and then distributed out to all those folks who are waiting to take the train. Couldn’t this be applied to any city with a decent public transportation system? (Guess that means we’ll never see it in Los Angeles…)

More once I find time to read the paper they published about their idea (available in PDF here)