Ten Questions With Terry Gotham: Streamus Creator Sean Anderson!

(I’ve started using this Chrome extension called Streamus and I’ve not looked back. Dumping my huge YouTube playlists into a tab-less player that drops them all without ads & with less buffering. I was lucky enough to catch up with the coder of this amazing little extension, and you can find what we talked about below)
1. How did you come up with the Streamus idea? 
Haha. I get asked this question a lot and I’m afraid the answer might be a bit lackluster. I have a decent soundsystem in my room and often would have friends over just to hangout, drink some beers, and listen to music. Most of the time the music would come from YouTube which was resulting in hundreds of bookmarks being created to keep track of enjoyable songs. I found myself becoming more and more frustrated having to manage so many bookmarks and was longing for a way to manage them. Being a software developer, I thought this problem was a bit silly to have, and decided to build something to solve my dilemma. Streamus is the manifestation of those efforts.
The name Streamus was a bit harder to come up with. Originally, the software was called SongBuzz, but I wasn’t stoked on that name. After months of deliberating, Streamus hit me. “Stream” + “Music” – “ic” (like ‘ew, ick!’) = Streamus. 🙂

2. What kind of education/technical background do you have? Most ravers aren’t coding Google Chrome extensions in their free time.
I had a fairly accelerated educational career. I began attending Washington State University (Go Cougs!) at 15 and graduated with my BS in Computer Science at 20. I worked several developer internships from 18-20, but, for the past four years, I worked as lead developer for a small tech. company called Cormant, http://cormant.com/. Cormant is ran by a tight-knit group of amazing people and focuses on building software to manage data centers for governments, banks, etc. While it’s a great company to work for, it wasn’t really my true calling. I wanted to be more involved in music. So, I shifted myself to a 1 day/week contracting position just before heading to EDC and am now gearing up to pursue Streamus more aggressively.
3. Can you give us some insight on your choices in why you made an extension as opposed to an app or other design choices you made in the construction?
Sure. I actually addressed this in-depth in my Reddit post on r/musichttp://www.reddit.com/r/Music/comments/282bug/i_spend_my_free_time_developing_a_new_way_to/. Here’s a quote:
You’re probably wondering why I chose to make an extension and not a website. Extensions have a ton of cool features which aren’t available to basic websites. Here are some examples:
  • I can highlight a track name on a page that doesn’t have a corresponding URL and play it by interacting with the context menu: http://i.imgur.com/wh0Y1pQ.png While my screenshot is a contrived example, it comes up a lot when talking to people on Facebook and generally browsing the web. How often does someone mention a song they’re listening to and you have to copy the name, go to YouTube, paste it, search, and then listen? Streamus simplifies that process.
  • Personally, I really like using Beatport’s Top 100 to find new music, but they only provide short samples. Streamus injects HTML mark-up into the page which provides the ability to listen to full tracks: http://i.imgur.com/K3dxHxi.png. Beatport saw this functionality, called me up, and offered me a job. I respectfully declined, wanting to commit to Streamus, but I’m pleased to say that Streamus is on an early access list for some cool new features Beatport will be releasing in the future. 🙂 Additionally, I would like to expand this functionality to support BBC1’s charts, iTunes charts, etc. I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t be possible — just a time commitment.
  • When I’m playing a full-screen video game, I can’t take the time to alt-tab back to a web page and skip around. Chrome’s keyboard shortcuts are able to work even with the game maximized which helps me not be stuck on a song I dislike until I have free time to alt-tab. Websites are unable to support keyboard shortcuts in this fashion. http://i.imgur.com/U1KbiSw.png
  • Omnibox integration is pretty sweet. I can type “streamus songnamehere” into the URL bar and it will find it for me on YouTube and play it without having to leave the page I am on:http://i.imgur.com/jXim40K.png
4. Who do you listen to on it?!!? Favorite artists? New picks? 
Oh boy. I listen to a whole lot of different artists. Mostly electro-house, deep house, dubstep, and trap. Not so much full albums, just a lot of picking and choosing. Some of my favorite artists:
  • Gramatik / GRiZ / most artists under the Pretty Lights label.
  • Feed Me (seeing him in SF in September, stoked he is touring again.)
  • Skream
  • Alesso
Currently, a girl I know has been getting me more into laidback trap/dub. I’m really feeling these songs:
5. You mentioned that you’ve spoken to lawyers at YouTube on the Reddit thread. What is the situation looking like at the moment, especially with YouTube starting to pivot into streaming?
Great question! I’ve known about YouTube’s intent to release a music service for well over a year. So, that’s not much of a surprise to me, but it’s hard to gauge their feelings regarding Streamus with the release of their service. I think that if an API is exposed to utilize their service then it will be great news for Streamus. It will resolve some of the technical conflicts with presenting the visual portion of YouTube videos and also reduce the amount of bandwidth necessary to run Streamus. Of course, they could also view Streamus as a direct threat to their service which would be less than ideal.
Currently, I’m working on establishing some contacts within YouTube. Several non-legal members of YouTube/Google have reached out to me and expressed interest in Streamus, but I haven’t been able to lock-down any meetings as of yet. I think being friends with YouTube is paramount to Streamus’ future.
YouTube’s lawyers wrote me in the past expressing concerns over lack of advertisements and lack of visual content support. I’m all for supporting both of these and I’m certainly not trying to be stubborn with their legal department, but there have been some challenging technical hurdles to overcome in order to fully comply. I expressed my thoughts to them and they forwarded me onto a YouTube developer relations specialist. Unfortunately, this person did not respond to any of several e-mails I sent nor did they acknowledge me on LinkedIn. The YouTube lawyers stopped responding, as well. As such, I’ve continued to tinker with my idea while keeping their concerns in mind.
Ideally, I would like to support video in a fashion similiar to how Google Hangouts supports IM windows. Unobtrusive, minimizable, tab-independent YouTube videos such as seen here:https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pip-video/anoelogknphkblfagnpdmpfpaddikbae Unfortunately, after speaking with Google, it turns out that they are deprecating this functionality in favor of other, more flexible methods. They’re working on rewriting Google Hangouts at this point in time. So, when that work is done, I’ll see what they came up with and leverage it inside of Streamus to help placate YouTube’s lawyers.
6. Can you explain for some of our less tech savvy readers, why there are no ads on the service? To hedge people crying about piracy of course.
The issue with advertisements is a bit different. YouTube has two methods of playing videos – either with the HTML5 video element or with a Flash player. Flash is terrible. It’s buggy, crashes a lot, and consumes a lot of resources. From my viewpoint, all I care about is always having a reliable video player. As such, I have code in place which requests the HTML5 player from YouTube. However, YouTube does not currently have advertisement support in their HTML5 player. This results in no advertisements in Streamus, but not because I am specifically blocking advertisements. I’m unable to package AdBlock for YouTube into Streamus as it would be a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service. I’m totally aware of the concerns of piracy / giving back to the content creators. Fortunately, YouTube is implementing a “Tip Jar” service which will allow content creators to receive tips from those interacting with their content, http://www.engadget.com/2014/06/26/youtube-upgrades/. This is something I whole-heartedly embrace and will support in Streamus ASAP. Sorry!
7. How the hell was Electric Daisy Carnival? Did people recognize you?
EDC was amazing! This was my second year attending and Pasquale / the Insomniac crew always blow me away with their level of production. I heard that the main stage “church” holds the record for the largest stage in the US and I believe it! The shuttle service seemed much more organized this year, but I, foolishly, got caught in the parking lot chaos on day two instead of taking the shuttle back. No complaints though! I PLUR’ed a cop at Cosmic Meadow and it was super fun watching his face go from confused to smiling about newly acquired kandi.
My favorite moment at EDC was a couple of hours into day 2. One of my friends, Danielle, was also at EDC but we didn’t really have any plans to meet up. I’m wandering around with my friends and suddenly hear a yell, “NO FUCKING WAY?!” Boom. Danielle’s standing there behind me admist the other 140,000+ attendees. What luck! To top it all off, a stranger caught the meeting on camera,http://i.imgur.com/WghoAdO.jpg, and hooked us up with the photo. Hanging out with friends unexpectedly is the best way to have a great time at EDC. My favorite sets at EDC were:
  • Crizzly / Datsik: I was front and center at the BassPod. At the end of Crizzly’s set he yelled out, “WHO WANTS SOME PIZZA?” and proceeded to hand out big slices to everyone raving in the front. It turns out it’s pretty challenging to throw down to Datsik with pizza in hand, but was a memorable moment none the less.
  • Dada Life: The vibes from the crowd during Dada’s set were amazing. “This Machine Kills Ravers” and a remix of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” left me exhausted, but radiating with smiles.
  • Bassnectar: Oh. Man. I’ve seen Lorin throw down several times over the years and his sets are always amazing. I caught this set from the bleachers and it was just mind-blowing. He sync’ed up some visuals of Neo from The Matrix fighting to the beat, alongside fireworks going off everywhere, and it was just the sickest thing I’ve ever experienced.
8. What’s next when it comes to the service? Have you encountered anyone wanting to help/fund you?
I’ve got a lot planned for the future. Currently, I’m tinkering with optional login systems to allow your playlists to sync across multiple PCs and to allow for multiple users on a single PC. Additionally, I would like to start supporting other music streaming services such as SoundCloud. There’s also a ton of smaller features to add such as support for ChromeCast devices and Last.FM scrobbling. There’s a ton of people interested in getting in on Streamus. I would say I am contacted at a minimum once a week. I have turned down several offers from venture capitalists because I don’t want Streamus to become another job for me and I don’t want a need to generate a return on an investment to corrupt a good product. I’m not in this for the money. I’m in it to make a high-quality product that everyone loves to use.
Currently on the horizon is a potential partnership with some cool stuff coming out of MIT’s media labs. There’s an NDA involved, so I can’t say much, nor am I sure if it will come to fruition… but, if it pans out, I think it’ll give Pandora / Spotify Radio a run for their money. 🙂
9. If people want to contribute/donate to the service, how can they do so?
Streamus is entirely open-source. So, if you’re a developer, feel free to browse the GitHub repository, https://github.com/MeoMix/StreamusChromeExtension, and hit me up with what you might want to contribute.
If you’re looking to donate, you can do so here: https://streamus.com/#donate
10. If you had total control, what would you want to see Streamus become? If you had a blank check and a development team, what does the dream turn into? 
Oh boy. A couple of key things come to mind:
  • I really want to build something like Turntable.FM / Plug.DJ. I want users to be able to become radio stations. They should be able to broadcast what they’re listening to and have others listen in real time. People would be able to chat while discovering new music, but also go back to listening to their own collection if they got tired of being reliant on someone else providing the content. I think that’s the major flaw with the aforementioned websites — I always get tired of having to deal with many different DJs suggesting songs, but there’s no easy way to just listen to my own collection of music.
  • Mobile support! It’s a lot of effort, but I would love to be able to take my playlists on the go.
  • I’d also really like to have a party / jukebox mobile application which integrates with Streamus. It would work something like this: “You’re throwing a house party. You setup your media PC with some speakers and start playing music through Streamus. Guests arrive and have the Streamus mobile app. installed on their phones. They’re given a code which allows them to connect to one main ‘jukebox’ which is running on the media PC. Everyone can suggest songs from YouTube/SoundCloud and have them queued up. Voting would allow songs to be vetoed or fast-tracked and the host could always override these decisions. At the end of the night, everyone who participated gets an e-mail/message showing all of the songs which played through the course of the night.” I think this would be a whole lot better than the current situation of drunkenly finding songs on YouTube / fighting over what should play next / cutting songs short when they’re bad and trying frantically to find new songs in a suddenly quiet room.

18 thoughts on “Ten Questions With Terry Gotham: Streamus Creator Sean Anderson!

  1. “I would say I am contacted at a minimum once a week. I have turned down several offers from venture capitalists because I don’t want Streamus to become another job for me and I don’t want a need to generate a return on an investment to corrupt a good product. I’m not in this for the money. I’m in it to make a high-quality product that everyone loves to use.” This is so refreshing!! True passion!

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