Audiogalaxy was an excellent music sharing service, similar to but predating and outliving Napster. The original AG now rests in peace. Often considered one of the best peer-to-peer programs of all time, Audiogalaxy shutdown in mid-2002. This article is here as a tribute to Audiogalaxy, and is intended to reveal some secrets not everyone was aware of. Three years after its shutdown by the RIAA, I think its a good time to take a look back and how it was.
Audiogalaxy ran a centralized server to index the songs. This allowed them to block songs at the request of copyright owners, but this wasn't perfect. The RIAA called it "less effective than sand through a sieve" (PDF lawsuit here). But they didn't know about a more severe hole...
In May 2001, Audiogalaxy implemented a useful new feature: groups. Join a group, and everyone can send songs to the group. Every member would receive the song. Groups quickly started popping up dedicated to sending out albums as soon as they were available. Users would join the group and do nothing but wait until the songs were available; they would immediately be downloaded. Spammers would send songs uninvited, sometimes labelling them as viruses. (transcript in *DJ KIFFS RAVE NATION* chat) However, there was a flaw.
As a side-effect of having the ability to send to groups, Audiogalaxy allowed users to send blocked songs to each other!
Groups started popping up where workers (a select few who knew this secret) would take song requests from users, and send them blocked songs. • ANTI SEARCH PROHIBITED •, ran by Nirav, was one of the most popular groups. Procedure for sending blocked songs, newer procedure.
** BAG OF TRICKS ** and some members of Audiogalaxy Spain developed their own software called AntiX to help their group send blocked songs.
Manually sending blocked songs was tedious, so a program was developed to automate the process. A new group was formed, AUTOMATED REQUESTS by xyzzy-, and a second account xyzzy-auto was used to send the songs.
You posted to the group's message board the song IDs you wanted, and a bot known as AG-ar (Audiogalaxy automated requests) would scour the threads and send you the songs you wanted. The Perl aglib, part of the now-defunct but ambitious Unweb Project was used to parse the threads and send the songs through the web interface.
On April 9th, 2002, Audiogalaxy required that songs must be in your shared folder to send them, and the bot was updated to bypass this restriction on the 15th--creating fake songs before sending the real songs.
People began to realize they could list several song IDs to share full albums, see songs and ag-autoalbums.txt. Individual, verified songs were also listed separately, a precursor to today's verified hash links. The future looked bright: a poll was conducted about the feasibility of switching AG-ar to have an AIM interface instead, the Anti-Blocked Alliance had seven members (internal memo), and Michael (Audiogalaxy owner) was talking about fixing the spam problem. Then it all turned around.
Audiogalaxy wouldn't last forever, as everyone knew... but what could be done to preserve its life? ? (The logo came from a Yahoo! CAPTCHA, purely by chance). Agitator was an idea that everyone would run their own Audiogalaxy server, logging into everyone else. The Satellite and all existing software could still be used. Of course, a web interface would have to be designed. Agitator never materialized.
On the 20th of April, 2002, X Blocked Songs closed. There had been rumors flying around about a possible lawsuit. Then it happened On that day, Audiogalaxy plugged the hole. All blocked songs groups grinded to a halt.
In its last week of service in late May 2002, AUTOMATED REQUESTS served a total of 5186 songs. A list of top artists was compiled using analysis of the log files.
Here is my last screenshot of Audiogalaxy:
The good old days, indeed.
Long live Audiogalaxy!
P.S. FTP search used to be working for a while, but Audiogalaxy has mostly turned into a pay service called "Rhapsody".
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