Plex blog

Plex Music Goes to Eleven!

04.30.15 324 Comments

I have a confession to make.

Picture Al Gore blasting air conditioning with his car windows rolled down, a cooler full of polar bear steaks in the trunk, and in the passenger seat, Tipper’s singing along to Ice Cube, with all the naughty words. It’s literally that bad.

You see, for the past few years, I’ve been using iTunes for music and not Plex.

Why, you might ask? Well, inertia for sure; I’ve been using iTunes for a decade. But let’s just say that our support for music wasn’t exactly stellar. And that’s just completely unacceptable.

Thankfully, that changes today.

Six months ago, we gathered up a crack team of music lovers and holed up in a secret underground bunker. Armed only with oxygen-free audio cables, a Technics SL-1200, and three copies of Duran Duran’s Thank You, we toiled away in total darkness, fueled only by yerba mate and guarana. Finally, shielding our eyes from the unfamiliar light of day, we emerged like naked mole rats, except less naked and somewhat more human, carrying code wrought in the fiery furnaces of vesuvian compilers. And without further ado, we’d like to show you what we’ve been working on.

(Not a big fan of the written word? Not a problem, head straight over to our quick start guide.)

Vastly improved scanning

The first step is getting your music into Plex, and we’ve made some giant improvements to this process. We scan new media first (so even if you have a giant library, it’s quick to pick up the new stuff), and we download posters and other information during the scan, instead of waiting until the end. (As a bonus, this works for movie libraries too!)

Massive management and browsing enhancements

One of the biggest shortcomings up until now was that when we didn’t scan something quite right (because, let’s face it, nobody’s perfect), it was really hard to take charge and correct the mistake. We’ve added rich multi-select, full access to edit things like disc and track number, and the ability to quickly delete whole albums or artists. You can easily move tracks between albums, albums between artists, and merge albums and artists. Multi-select features have been highly requested, and of course you can use them to set genres on multiple movies at the same time too, for example.

We’ve also finally added multi-disc support, and we’ve added some new filters and sorts for music (play count, date played, rating). Should we have had these things from the beginning? Yes. Does that mean they’re any less appreciated now? Well, we certainly hope not!

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Music videos

I might be dating myself here, but I remember when MTV actually played music videos instead of airing shows about kids having kids and a certain shore on the East Coast. Plex now supports adding your own music videos to your library, associated with tracks or artists. You can add regular music videos, live music videos, lyrical music videos, or even interviews. (Have a Plex Pass? We make it even easier with Vevo, as we’ll talk about more below.)

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Rich music discovery features

We’ve added more ways to explore your own media. You can see albums you’ve listened to most in the last month, rediscover artists you haven’t played in some time, and other such suggestions, which can be much more fun than just browsing through a list of thousands of artists or albums.

We also display the most popular tracks for each artist, as well as allow you to browse to similar artists.

All this discovery and exploration can be incredibly immersive; I sat down the other evening to quickly test something out, got lost for an hour watching a bunch of music videos, and then finally ended up playing an old Neil Young album I hadn’t heard in years.

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You want one more thing? You can have one more thing. We’ll also show you when artists are on tour. Just another way we make your music library more connected to the bands you love!

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Incredible platform support

As many of you know, Plex is available just about everywhere, but it’s worth reminding you that once you have a brand new, mega awesome music library, you can stream all of your music, wherever you are. Whether it’s inside your house, or thousands of miles away, you’ll always have all your music available.

AND WHAT IF I HAVE A PLEX PASS?

As you all know, we do love our Plex Pass members, and we always go the extra mile to provide them with great value. Dear Plex Pass members: we really think you’ll enjoy this latest batch of goodies! It makes us really happy to spare no expense to bring you the absolute best.

(Just one caveat, some features are not available on a few platforms.)

Sonic fingerprinting for improved matching

You can’t always be super organized with your music collections, and ensure everything has perfect tags, and now you don’t have to. Even if the file doesn’t have any tags at all, Gracenote’s sonic fingerprinting can work magic. We’ve developed our own smart system to take advantage of this new data. We can’t promise it’ll be perfect, but we can promise it’s much better, and we’ve worked incredibly hard to tune all the heuristics, scanning test libraries literally hundreds of times and using a deep neural network (ok, just our own brains) to optimize.

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Plus, as a bonus, artist and album art show up instantly during a scan. You have to see it to believe it.

Artist bios, album reviews, and more

We’ve licensed the best metadata money can buy; you get rich artist bios, great album reviews, high resolution artist and album art, and well-organized genres from Gracenote.

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Mood mixes

Individual tracks now have moods associated with them, so you can make a smart playlist with a mood of “Euphoric Energy,” or quickly shuffle all tracks in your library which are “Exuberant” or “Forlorn.” Is anyone surprised The Cure showed up here?

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Automatic music videos from Vevo

Don’t want to spend hours finding and managing your favorite videos? Let Plex and Vevo take care of it for you. Vevo’s catalog of over 140,000 HD music videos show up automatically in your library, ready to stream, without interruption! For more details and to see which countries Vevo is available in, visit our help article on the topic.

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Plex Mix

Create a custom radio station from tracks in your own library. Simply pick a track, select “Play Plex Mix” and you’re off to the races. Love a track you’re hearing? Queue up a Plex Mix and you’ll keep the mood going.

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Last words

With all this goodness, I’m happy to report that iTunes is a thing of the past for me. These days I’ve straightened up and I’m flyin’ right—just like if Al got rid of his gas guzzlers and personal jets, and Tipper confessed to being a massive NWA fan. It just feels right.

We’ll leave you with this video we made to introduce everyone to the new Plex Music! This is Mike. He has a beard.

We’ll let Barkley have the very last word, as usual. He’s been busy enjoying the beach, learning to bring in the paper, and just relaxing in the sun.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading (no really, we appreciate it)! Head to our quick start guide, and get your Plex music on!

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Huge update for our Smart TV app

04.16.15 133 Comments

As you’ve no doubt noticed over the past few months, we’ve been greatly expanding our support for Plex across Smart TVs. If you have a Plex Pass and a fairly recent VIZIO or Sony television (or other Opera TV-based devices), odds are you can run our shiny, new Plex app on it. We’ve also recently launched on Toshiba (most 2013 and later models) and LG Smart TVs (2013 Netcast and 2014 WebOS models), and 2012 and newer Samsung fridges (OK, maybe not really). Millions of people all over the world can now use Plex with their existing televisions. Here’s a list of compatible TVs.

There have, however, been a few notable drawbacks to these platforms. For example, Barkley has been staring vacantly at the lovely new home screen, confused and missing his carefully curated photo album of marrow bones and tennis balls. Where we once had a lively backdrop of island music to fill the awkward gaps in cocktail party conversation, there is nothing but silence. And where Barkley was once carefully limited to movies starring Dalmatians, there is no way for the app to use his managed account.

I’m happy to report that these dark days have reached an end.

We have been working hard on bringing all the missing features to the smart TV app, and we’ve already taken a few giant steps toward that. First of all, we have rich support for photos and music, including discovery features, photo slideshows, and a music mini player on most platforms. We’ve also added Plex Home to the TV app, which means fast user switching and managed accounts now work perfectly. And finally, you can browse and play all your music playlists (video playlist support coming soon).

This same app also runs on the PS3 and PS4. We need to do a bit more work to get music playback working on those consoles, but rest assured that’s coming soon!

Feast your eyes on these screenshots, and then run (but never with scissors), don’t walk to your nearest Smart TV to take it for a spin.

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And, really, we forgot to add a Barkley photo again. You were not amused. He was not amused. His lawyer was especially not amused.

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