There’s BitTorrent, eMule, the Newsgroups, LimeWire, Morpheus and so on. While these big players in the file-sharing world manage to grab all the attention and headlines, many tend to forget about the small time favorite. Although the file-sharing world is filled with political wrangling and other related debates at the moment, the P2P community still lives – and lives well on a community named SoulSeek.
SoulSeek is the brainchild of Nir Arbel. Nir Arbel interestingly enough was on the development team of the original Napster client. Nir managed to take what he learned from that experience and reestablish it under SoulSeek. Considering SoulSeek is of the original Napster lineage, it contains what many P2P networks lack today – a strong community.
While some P2P networks rise and fall, SoulSeek stayed quietly beneath the radar. As some P2P developers debate whether to close shop and move on, SoulSeek is still under constant development and with some big changes on the way.
Perhaps the most important change coming up for SoulSeek is its continuing move towards decentralization. SoulSeek has been on a long and laborious journey towards decentralization since 2002. One of the main reasons SoulSeek is moving more segments of the network towards decentralization is to enhance its searchability. The search feature on SoulSeek has been problematic from almost the beginning, however today it appears to be largely intact. Yet there is always room from improvement.
That is where test version 157 comes in. Although Nir once said, “Soulseek will never become fully decentralized,” the search function of this network will. Currently, a centralized server manages the search feature. While this functions adequately, “it is still far from ideal seeing as all the changes we've made to the search distribution network are more really good improvements rather than redesigns of something that was originally meant to work just well enough.”
In the near future, SoulSeek will distribute its search function, however some segments will remain centralized (hence Nir’s statement on decentralization.) SoulSeek works on tiers of privilege. Much like WinMX, SoulSeek is well known for its long waiting queues. The more $5.00 donations one makes to the network, the higher on the queue list one will be. If you do not donate to the community, it may take a very long time to grab the music you want.
SoulSeek has managed to accomplish two things – stay out of harm’s way and become a popular network. But surely, isn’t the RIAA interested in the Top 40 music traded?
That’s where SoulSeek has its advantage. There is very, very little Top 40 music traded on the SoulSeek network. In fact, you might have a very hard time finding Britney’s or Jessica Simpson’s latest single. But what you will find is hordes and hordes of trance, electronic, drum and bass, house and dance music. In fact, there are more of these types of genres than virtually any other resource. It far exceeds BitTorrent and the Newsgroups in this respect also. And luckily, most of this music is not distributed by the RIAA – or perhaps they just don’t care about it.
SoulSeek is an old skool network. It may never have swarming or multisource downloading, but it has very well populated chat rooms where one can discuss various music genres. By simply interacting with the community, this remains and probably will remain the best way to discover new music.
If you’re a fan of SoulSeek or are interested in giving the test client a whirl, check it out here