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Commercial? Mixed
Type of site Viral content sharing, social network service
Registration free, required to play many full-length songs
Owner News Corp.
Created by Community
Current status Defunct

imeem was a social media service where users interacted with each other by streaming, uploading and sharing music and music videos. However, it has since been shut down now that MySpace has acquired the service.

The company was founded in 2003 by Dalton Caldwell (ex-VA Linux) and Jan Jannink (formerly of Napster), and many of its core engineering team came from the original Napster file-sharing service[1]. The company takes its name from “meme,” a term coined by author Richard Dawkins to describe the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena.

imeem helped pioneer the free, advertising-supported music model for online music, permitting consumers to legally upload, stream and share music and music playlists for free with the costs supported by advertising. In 2007, imeem became the first-ever online music site to secure licenses from all 4 U.S. major music labels to offer their music catalogues for free streaming and sharing on the web.[2]

The company also created the web’s first embeddable music and video playlists. People could use imeem’s widgets to embed songs and playlists from imeem virtually anywhere on the web, including on their MySpace and Facebook profiles or on their personal blogs.

imeem was based in San Francisco’s South of Market district, also known as SOMA[3], with additional offices in New York and Los Angeles. The company’s investors included Morgenthaler Ventures and Warner Music Group.

On December 8, 2009, it was bought out by MySpace Music in a firesale for an undisclosed amount. However, it is stated to have been less than $1 million[4].


Business model

imeem generated revenue through a combination of direct and indirect advertising sales, sales of MP3 downloads, ringtones and concert tickets, and subscription revenue from premium services. The bulk of its revenue comes from direct advertising sales; advertisers who have run campaigns with imeem include Legacy Foundation[5], Kia Motors[6][7], and Dr Pepper[8][9], among others.

imeem pioneered the ad-supported streaming music model.[10] In 2007, the company became the first-ever online music site to secure licenses from all 4 major music labels to offer their music catalogues for free streaming and sharing on the web.[11]

Under this model, artists and labels are paid a share of the imeem’s ad revenue in proportion to the popularity of their music on imeem, and have the right to register their content and determine how (or whether) that content is available on the site or through its embeddable widgets.[12]

This business model is made possible by imeem’s proprietary content fingerprinting and digital registry technology. Initially, imeem licensed this technology from SNOCAP, the digital rights and content management startup founded by Napster creator Shawn Fanning.[13] In 2008, imeem acquired SNOCAP and its technology outright.[14] imeem continues to operate the SNOCAP digital registry, and uses the technology acquired from SNOCAP to power its ad-supported streaming music service.


imeem had 2 main products:, where people could discover, stream and share music and music videos for free, and imeem Mobile, an Internet radio product. In addition, the company offered a premium service, imeem VIP, that gave people access to additional features on the imeem site.

Visitors to the imeem website could stream and share millions of songs and tens of thousands of music videos for free. imeem provided this content for free, with the cost for licensing and streaming supported by advertising on the site and its mobile product. Users could play music and video for free, but account registration was required.[15]

One of imeem’s key features was the playlist. imeem users could create personal playlists with music they had uploaded themselves or with music and video already available on the site. They could publish and share these playlists on imeem, where they could be played by, shared with, commented on, or tagged by other users. imeem users could build playlists via its "Create Music Playlist" page.

Visitors could also share music, videos and playlists beyond imeem[16], either by embedding imeem players into external sites (including Facebook, MySpace and personal blogs) or through sharing links on Twitter via imeem’s “Tweet This” feature.[17][18]

imeem introduced its embeddable flash playlists in September 2006. Several websites have since imitated the playlist feature, either adding it to an existing media player widget (e.g. YouTube) or building their entire service around the concept (Project Playlist).

imeem also enabled users to upload music to the website, either through its web-based upload interface or through its downloadable uploader, an Adobe AIR desktop application that allowed users to easily upload their music to imeem. The imeem Uploader would automatically discover users' iTunes playlists and allow them to easily upload them to your imeem profile.[19]

Users could upload up to 100 songs of their personal music for free. People who would like to upload more than 100 songs must first sign up for one of the site's "imeem VIP" subscription plans.[20]

In addition, imeem users could purchase MP3 downloads (either directly from imeem[21] or from its affiliate partners, Apple Computer or and ringtones through the imeem site.

According to imeem executives, the site had more than 20 million visitors per month, approximately half of whom are based in the U.S.

imeem Mobile

imeem Mobile is a free mobile application people can use to discover, enjoy and purchase music on their mobile device. It is available as a free download to users on the Android and iPhone/iPod touch platforms.

imeem Mobile users can create custom Internet radio stations based on their favorite artists, discover new music through personalized recommendations and buy DRM-free MP3 downloads directly onto their mobile device (on Android, downloads are from the Amazon MP3 application; on the iPhone and iPod touch, downloads are from the iTunes Store.[22]

imeem Mobile also enables people to browse and stream their personal imeem music libraries to their mobile device. People can upload up to 20,000 songs of the music they own directly to, and then access that music through their mobile device.[23]. To upload more than 100 songs, users must subscribe to one of imeem's premium services.

imeem introduced imeem Mobile on the Android platform in October 2008[24], and launched imeem Mobile for iPhone and iPod touch users in May 2009. At launch, it was the only streaming music application on the Android platform, which in turn has led to it being one of the most popular applications installed on Android devices.[25] In June 2009, imeem Mobile crossed a milestone of over 1 million installs on the Android and iPhone platforms.[26]

imeem Mobile has received several awards, including a 2009 Crunchie Award for 'Best Mobile Application[27], the Editor's Choice award from the blog AndroidGuys[28], and an award for 'Best Streaming Music App' in the 2009 Android Network Awards.[29]

imeem VIP

In 2008, imeem launched a premium "imeem VIP" service that gives subscribers access to additional site features, most prominently the ability to upload more music to the site.

imeem users can upload up to 100 songs of their personal music for free. People who would like to upload more than 100 songs must first sign up for one of the site's "VIP" subscription plans.

There are 3 imeem VIP subscription tiers[30]:

  • The imeem "VIP" plans start at $9.99 per year for the "VIP Lite" plan, which gives people access to full streaming songs through the VIP player.
  • The "VIP" subscription option allows uploading of up to 1,000 songs for $29.99 per year,
  • The "VIP Plus" plan allows uploading of up to 20,000 songs for $99.99 per year[31]


Early history: 2003-2005

The imeem service has changed drastically since its original inception as an instant-messaging application that let people communicate by chat, blogging, instant messaging and sharing files[32].daddymcd33

imeem founder Dalton Caldwell began working on what would become the imeem instant-messaging application during Thanksgiving weekend in 2003. Initially, he worked on the software from his home. In 2004, imeem moved into offices in downtown Palo Alto's 285 Hamilton building[33], with Caldwell, Jannink and a small team of engineers continuing work on the software.

imeem first unveiled its software in February 2005 at the DEMO conference[34] and formally launched it that August.[35]

imeem discontinued the client software in mid-2007. While this distributed model was interesting and received positive press[36][37], it proved to be difficult to attract many users since the only way to participate was to download the imeem client software. Over time, imeem integrated many of the client's features into its website and the innovative distributed database model has been centralized.


In March 2006, imeem re-launched at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, with a new focus on enabling people to interact through the website, using media (photos, videos, music) to express their personalities and interests. Coinciding with this re-launch, imeem introduced new features enabling users to upload and play music and video on the site.

In September 2006, imeem introduced embeddable flash playlists that gave people the ability to take music and video playlists they created (or found) on the site and embed them virtually anywhere on the web. imeem’s players quickly became popular with consumers using MySpace and other social networks, giving them a way to customize & personalize their profiles with music.

As a result, imeem quickly gained traction, with the site’s traffic growing to 10 million unique monthly users by the end of 2006. By March 2007, imeem’s monthly traffic reached over 16 million unique monthly users.[38]


In February 2007, MySpace took steps to limit the posting of imeem content on its site: any updates or comments with the word 'imeem' were removed upon posting, making it impossible to even mention the site. However, MySpace stopped blocking imeem in 2008.

In March 2007, imeem announced it was partnering with SNOCAP[39], the digital rights and content management startup founded by Napster creator Shawn Fanning, to enable legal uploading, streaming and sharing of music on imeem, utilizing SNOCAP’s content fingerprinting and digital registry technology. The goal was to provide a way for consumers to upload and share music with their friends, for free, and to do so in a way where label and artists can both make money and have greater control over where and how their music was available.[40]

The partnership marked imeem’s move to an ad-supported model, in which consumers could freely stream and share music and video content with the costs supported by advertising. Under this model, artists and labels are paid a share of the site’s ad revenue in proportion to the popularity of their music on imeem, and have the right to register their content and determine whether that content is available on the site or through its embeddable widgets.

Throughout the first half of 2007, imeem negotiated with the major labels to secure licenses for this new model. Warner Music Group and imeem announced a licensing agreement for imeem’s new service in July 2007[41], followed by Sony Music Entertainment[42] and EMI Music[43] in September. In December 2007, imeem signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music Group[44], becoming the first online music service to partner with all four major music labels to let people legally stream and share music for free online.


On January 28, 2008, imeem announced that it was acquiring the music locker service Anywhere.FM.[45]

On February 1, 2008, imeem acquired the online music distributor SNOCAP. It had already been making extensive use of SNOCAP's audio fingerprinting technology and music database.[46] As part of the acquisition, SNOCAP's chief operating officer, Ali Aydar (ex-Napster), joined imeem.

On March 24, 2008[47] imeem announced the launch of a developer's platform that will permit third-party developers to interact with imeem data.[48]

In April 2008, imeem received a new round of funding from Sequoia Capital.[49]

In October 2008, imeem launched imeem Mobile[50], a free mobile music application.

On October 22, 2008, imeem laid off 25% of its staff.[51]


imeem's troubles continued into 2009, as Warner Music wrote down its entire $15 million dollar investment in imeem.[52]

It seemed possible the company could close in April 2009, but it was able to renegotiate deals with its major label partners[53] and subsequently found enough new investors to continue service.[54] Sources told TechCrunch that imeem raised $6 million in this most recent funding round,[55] with Morgenthaler Ventures and Warner Music Group among those investing.[56]

imeem launched imeem Mobile for the iPhone and iPod touch in May 2009[57]. In June 2009, imeem Mobile crossed a milestone of over 1 million installs on the Android and iPhone platforms[58].

On June 25, 2009, imeem announced that it was removing all user-uploaded video and photos from the site. [59] This move, and the lack of advance notice, was unpopular with many users. [60]

In October 2009, imeem and Google announced the integration of links to music on imeem within Google search results. imeem was one of several online music companies involved in this effort.[61]


On December 8, 2009, MySpace (owned by News Corp) acquired imeem and angered many imeem users when it was closed down on the same day and all users were redirected to MySpace Music. The music-focused social network did not pay artists or labels the money owed to them for music streaming. [62] The controversial move was criticized as another sign MySpace is out of touch with the times. [63] Myspace recently assured users that their playlists are safe and that they are currently duplicating every users' playlist and will migrate them on to Myspace Music as soon as possible.[64] Myspace assured that features and functionality that users were used to at imeem will soon find their way onto MySpace, and compliment the existing platform alongside free full-song streaming, artist profiles, music videos, and more.[65] Myspace will email imeem users the instructions on how to claim their playlists.[66] On January 15, 2010, Myspace began restoring imeem playlists.[67]

imeem technology

imeem is primarily written in C#; while most of the front-end web servers run under Windows, the rest of their servers run the Linux operating system. The website heavily uses Ajax and Flash to deliver the content and allow users to access it.

Video and audio are both encoded as FLV files, audio is delivered as 128kbit quality MP3 data. Video is encoded to mp3 audio at 96kbit and Sorenson video at > 700kbit with resolution resized to 400 pixels wide and preserving its aspect ratio. While the video quality and resolution is significantly better[68] than other video sites (youtube uses 300kbit video[68]) the video sharing aspect of imeem has been largely eclipsed by the audio sharing component[citation needed]. In 2008 imeem upgraded the video quality further and has become one of the first media sharing sites to offer video encoded with the H.264 codec and at the original source resolution.


In terms of content privacy and editing, imeem applies a user participation model and maintains a set of community guidelines, user flagging of inappropriate content, and a notice-and-takedown policy. imeem's user agreement requires users to respect copyright law, and is not responsible for any infringing activities in accordance with the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, 1998.

If imeem determines that the legal copyright owner of an uploaded track is a record label which does not have a deal with imeem, the track will be reduced to a 30-second sample when anyone except the original uploader attempts to listen to the track. Regardless of whether a full track or 30-second version is played, the user is presented with links to purchase the track from music retail sites, either from imeem directly or from its affiliate partners, and iTunes.

However in early 2007 it was proposed that imeem's increase in popularity was due to its "laissez-faire attitude towards copyright issues".[not in citation given][69][70]

Warner Music Group Corp announced on July 12, 2007 that it had dropped its copyright infringement lawsuit against imeem by agreeing to license its music and video content to the site for a slice of its ad revenue. Financial details were not disclosed. Under the agreement, imeem Inc. can carry music and videos from all of the record company's artists, which include Madonna, Linkin Park and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Warner Music Group Corp has also recently released financial statements indicating that it has invested $15 million into the company.[71]

imeem instant messaging client [discontinued in 2007]

imeem was originally conceived as an instant-messaging application that let people communicate by chat, blogging, instant messaging and sharing files[72]. The service was billed as a 'distributed, peer-to-peer, social network[73].'

To use the imeem service, users were required to download and install imeem desktop software. This software client supported the service's distributed database model and provided features such as instant messaging and file-sharing. Every imeem client on the network had a database that would generate and store references to media content shared on the network; this system would accelerate access to content deemed to be close to the user. The service's media-sharing was peer-to-peer -- if a user shared photos or a podcast, then the data would only exist on the client database network; users who wanted to view the actual content would access it by peering directly with the publisher.

When imeem first launched, the client was the primary platform; the imeem website merely existed as a means for users to register and download the client.

Ultimately, the application proved to be something of a resource hog for power-users, since the database could grow to large proportions just by associating with a few individuals who were sharing a lot of content.

This instant messaging product was ultimately phased out; the site has been entirely web-based since June 2007.


  • The imeem client conducted most of its network activity using an encrypted protocol, making it difficult to monitor user activity.
  • Conversations via imeem's IM functionality and group chats are encrypted and only visible to conversation participants.
  • On startup the application validated with a central server. This ensured that unauthorized clients could not connect and run malicious exploits (such as monitoring traffic or spoofing identities) against the network.
  • Software updates were also delivered via the client and authenticated before they were installed.

The website obviously lacks many of the security features of the client, and since the majority of the content is now delivered from the website many of the original security features are no longer applicable outside the basic chat and file sharing features available on the client. Server-side configurations disables user's ability to use 3rd Party Programs (Such as Rich Media Downloaders for downloading media linked outside of the flash file) to download any imeem User Uploads.


imeem links users through topic groups (which were originally called "meems", from the word "meme"), relating to common interests. Media content can exist in custom profile pages and topic groups , as well as in browsable content channels and charts. Meems can serve as online communities for artists, bands, clubs, films, schools, festivals, concert tours, friends, and sports enthusiasts. However a recent redesign of the site has renamed most of the references to the word "meem" with "group", presumably this is an attempt to reduce user confusion over the word. Formerly, it was possible for links to be made between groups which had related subject matters. However, this linking feature was only ever implemented on the client, and it is no longer possible to add or remove links with the website - the links are still visible on older groups, and officially created groups appear to have links added at creation time.


  1. Jan Jannink, Co-Founder thread in imeem forum
  4. MySpace buys imeem music site for under $1 mln
  32. imeem Introduces Fun, Secure Way to Share Personal Content with Friends and Colleagues Online
  45. imeem Acquires Web Music Player Anywhere.FM
  46. imeem Acquires Snocap
  47. We’re open-minded about media Post on imeem
  48. Developer Info - imeem
  49. imeem receives additional funding from Sequoia Capital
  51. imeem Cuts Quarter of Staff, Might Be Looking for Buyer
  52. [1]
  54. [2]
  59. Simplifying imeem
  60. [] imeem Wants to Simplify Its Service - Deletes All User-Generated Photos and Videos
  62. Digital Briefs: Snocap, Green Day, Google
  63. Did MySpace Botch Handling of Imeem Acquisition?
  68. 68.0 68.1 Video Quality around the inernets Post on imeem
  69. imeem Explodes
  70. It's Rishi
  71. "Warner Music has $15M investment in imeem". 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  72. imeem Introduces Fun, Secure Way to Share Personal Content with Friends and Colleagues Online
  73. imeem launches desktop component for distributed social networking - The Social Software Weblog

See also

External links

es:Imeem fr:Imeem it:Imeem nl:Imeem pt:Imeem fi:Imeem vi:Imeem

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