Mulve

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Mulve, previously known as 'Search', was a short lived music download portable application that provided a front end for downloading music tracks from the Russian site Vkontakte. The application development started out as 'a hobby idea' as per one of the creators, however due to the one of the operators of Mulve, being arrested by the UK police,[1] the developers decided to discontinue the development and release the source code of the application on Google Code.[2]

Soon after the developers distributed their code to the public, the online community at large who had previously felt contempt for the rather alarmist way in which the investigation was conducted, particularly as the UK based developer at the time was only a minor, went ahead and used the distributed code to build several alternate versions of the app, the most notable one of which was titled, 'mielophone and enhanced Mulve's original feature base.[3]

The program was first made available in January 2008 in beta version to users of EVE Online forums and then final version was launched to the general public in May 2010, with the development discontinued in October 2010. For a short time in autumn 2010, due to online word-of-mouth and some articles about it, it seemed a popular alternative to peer-to-peer and despite labeling itself as "music discovery program", it gave users the ability to search Russian social networking website - Vkontakte for music that had been uploaded by its members.

History[edit]

In January 2008, a user by the name of 'Ryysa' on EVE Online forums posted a new thread asking people to stress test an application he was working on, which he had named 'Search'.

"Hello. I have been developing a small windows program on the side every now and then, which allows you to search and download music, fast. Downloads are done via HTTP, you can find nearly any music on there at good quality.I have made it for myself, but quite a lot of my friends have tested it, and after fixing some bugs it seems to work fine.Be aware, that you are downloading this at your own risk. In short - if you install a keylogger on your computer, don't blame me later. You'll just have to trust me (or virustotal) that this file is clean."

According to an interview conducted with Eric Azizian,[4] he states the reason for the app being renamed to Mulve was as follows, "Sometime in mid 2010 a local London based friend of mine who I won't name right now due to privacy issues, but was also the same person who started development of my first ever commercial email marketing application - Mail Mascot".

Eric took a fancy to the product and felt as if it was being under-utilised. Since he and his local friend had just started development on their email marketing app, originally Eric thought he could purchase the source code directly from the other developer, and manipulate it such that it promoted the release of their new app. However, after a conversation with his European partner he realized that it was far preferable to join up, brand it, and make a story out of it.

Branding[edit]

A 23 September 2010 article that appeared on Hypebot quotes the following: "Mulve requires no registration and comes as a 2MB zip file that includes the installer itself and a text file on how to donate to the project.  Here is how the creators describe Mulve and themselves:"

"Originating from computer adept backgrounds, two guys, both musicians, met one day. After a drink, it was final, they decided to start developing a program like no other, something that would allow people to find a tune they wanted, no slower than a click of a button.
Mulve, is just that program. After years of development we wanted to bring you something that you would enjoy loading up, something that was not for personal gain or for money. Something that could run flawlessly without so much as a momentary hiccup. Something that would prove to be a monumental breakthrough in terms of music discovery."[5]

Though, that story was taken by some as being fictitious it was actually true and caused some controversy amongst users, in fact Eric had been playing the piano since he was 8 years old,[6] while his partner had been playing the guitar for a good dozen years prior too.

Features[edit]

  • Portable application. Only Windows supported as of September, 2010.
  • Relatively small size - 1.7 MB.
  • A minimalist user interface.
  • Automated updating, although this service was discontinued as of version 1.10 due to traffic issues.
  • A small 90px ad banner on the top of the program inviting users to join the official Mulve Music Facebook group. (However, this banner did get interchanged with others from time to time).
  • No P2P download requirements, nor any requirements to upload or 'seed' content back.

Origin of name - abbreviation for Music Love - MuLve[edit]

The domain name mulve.com was actually supposed to be an abbreviation for the words, 'Music Love',[7] something that TorrentFreak has cited on their website after communicating with the founders.

Popularity[edit]

Between May 2010 and September 2010, Mulve had picked up some notoriety in the blogosphere with websites such as Torrentfreak, Wired, Lifehacker, CNN & many others in different parts of Europe frequently reporting on it. However, as Eric discussed in an episode of "The Business Wilderness" - a podcast that regularly interviews people demonstrating efficacy in business.[8]The primary reason for what appeared to be mass overnight coverage of the software, was in fact due to a "multi-tiered PR strategy", Eric stated.

It is believed in the beginning the app had a count of users in the low thousands, and it was growing via word of the mouth pretty steadily. The ad banner was designed exclusively by Eric which sat atop the application window, inviting people to join the Facebook community. In the words of Eric, "We didn't really catch our big break until the no. of users ticked over to 20,000 on the Facebook group. Fan pages weren't a thing back then!"

At that point a joined team effort led to reaching out to a couple of smaller industry and music blogs, until the editor at one blog, "I believe it was called, Hypebot... or perhaps that was the Tier 2 site that picked up from the Tier 3 music blog before it went upstreaming to the likes of Wired".

"We launched in May, with around 1,000 users, and by July we were clocking over 50,000-100,000+ new app opens PER day (in our case a new app open meant, a unique new user had downloaded the app. Seeing as we needed to keep track of server size and the constant struggle of being shut down or not being able to load balance efficiently enough. The spikes were unpredictable... Towards the end we calculated that a total 2,921,741 users had tried Mulve".

Thumbplay Revenue split // Acquisition Offer[edit]

At the height of Mulve's popularity towards October 2010, the Mulve team was contacted by an employee from Thumbplay - a popular mobile content provider at the time, annually grossing approximately $20 million in revenue. Two separate offers of an undisclosed amount were made to Mulve's founders to acquire the app and brand. However, no records of any offers being accepted were made public.

Moreover, Thumbplay then reached with a partnership proposal which would see them get offered a 50% - 50% revenue split on all song purchases from Thumbplay directed from the high number of daily app users. Though, this was rejected as the founders of Mulve believed it would betray the purpose of the company, as it was originally marketed as being completely free, easy to use without any sign up required.

Instead the creators opted to use the partnership to expand Mulve's functionality and "use the app's popularity to help get new artists discovered" - This quote originally appeared on article published by TorrentFreak.com on October 12, 2010, regarding the comparison of Mulve's services and a related app by the name of OiNK whose founder had also undergone legislative pressure to shut down.[9]

Mulve Italia[edit]

It appears as though Mulve was widely reported within the Italian media because at the height of its popularity, independent Facebook pages titled, 'Mulve Italia' were created as well as a separate website which currently has 4,700 likes. However, prior to this there many fan groups, and pages at the beginning of the decade when Facebook had a different user interface and functionality set.[10] The Italian version of the website is: mulveitalia.it => however the domain name expired at the end of 2011 and the website (which was originally a news created to chart the progress of the Mulve app) later became a host for another alternative of the app simply called, 'The Pirate App'[11] and the website for which changed to: pirateapp.it. The Facebook page for the Pirate App published its last official release for the app on 13 February 2014.[12]

Usage[edit]

The application was a front end to the Russian site Vkontakte. The application allowed the users to search through the site's databases and turned up results which allowed the users to download the song they wanted. At the time Vkontakte.ru allowed users to upload music and videos to its servers. Mulve simply used its wits to build on that by effectively acting as a GUI for an existing search engine, VKs.

Following on from Mulve[edit]

Following on from Mulve, it appears both creators have stayed on the white hat side of the line. According to Eric Azizian's LinkedIn page,[6] not long after the dismantlement of Mulve he continued to release other apps, this time focusing more around the internet marketing, and/or a lead generation company than to do with music. His latest venture is lead generation a service for companies selling products within the B2B space. It is called GuessBox.io,[citation needed] he also appears to have sporadically worked for a number of different companies, using his strengths in marketing.

As for the other developer & co-founder, his real name was never disclosed in any interviews or transcripts, so his status is currently unknown to the public.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Police Arrest Operator of Mulve Downloading App". Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  2. ^ "msearch-vk on Google Code". Retrieved 1 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Mielophone: Mulve-style Music Downloading on Steroids". TorrentFreak. 17 November 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  4. ^ Azizan, Eric. "Eric Azizian LinkedIn". LinkedIn. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
  5. ^ "(UPDATE 3) Mulve Music Download Tool: Recorded Music Industry's Worst Nightmare Comes True". hypebot. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  6. ^ a b Azizian, Eric. "Eric Azizian - LinkedIn".
  7. ^ "RIAA Takes Down Music Downloading App Mulve". TorrentFreak. 28 September 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  8. ^ "The Business Wilderness: CEO & Founder of Guess Box Eric Azizian from The Business Wilderness". www.stitcher.com. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  9. ^ "Police Repeat Oink Mistake Mulve Accusation Conspiracy to Defraud". TorrentFreak. 12 October 2010.
  10. ^ "The Pirate App Italia". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  11. ^ Andrighetto, Cristian (8 January 2019), Pirate is an open source webcrawler front-end for vk.com's media library.: black2279/pirate, retrieved 26 May 2019
  12. ^ "Conclusion: The Legacy of Pirate Politics for Moral-Practical Reasoning", Pirate Politics, The MIT Press, 2014, doi:10.7551/mitpress/9205.003.0008, ISBN 9780262320146