Introducing Boffin:'s music knowledge meets your local mp3 collection

Wednesday, 11 March 2009
by mxcl
filed under Announcements and Code
Comments: 81

Sometimes the endless rows of music in my media player leave me at a loss. I have a music collection that I’ve spent years lovingly crafting; all my favourite bands. Yet as I spin my mouse wheel its full length, nothing springs out. I scroll up, scouring the rows for something fresh. I scroll down, searching for some long forgotten treasure. After a few minutes I select “shuffle” and go make a cup of tea.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be like that. Wouldn’t it be great if you could tune into your local music like you do with radio?

That last sentence sounded very much like a product announcement did it not? Well, it was!

Pick a tag, maybe another related tag, and click play. Boffin. Strictly a tech demo. Let us know how you like it, and we’ll roll it into the next major release of our desktop software :)

Forum announcement and download links

Flickr group
Wordle gallery


  1. Harmen
    11 March, 17:15

    Works nice on my mac! Can it also suggest albums I haven’t listened to in a while? And integrate with iTunes? And warn me when an artist I like releases a new album? And do my dishes?

    Thanks :)

    Harmen – 11 March, 17:15
  2. James Welch
    11 March, 17:21

    wow, works great!

    is it possible to get it to scrobble for those no using the official client?

    I’m an iscrobbler guy…

    James Welch – 11 March, 17:21
  3. Max Howell
    11 March, 17:23

    I have some code ready to scrobble with the official client if it is running and independently if not. So yes. But I can’t guarantee a time frame as I need to add the “does dishes” feature first ;)

    Max Howell – 11 March, 17:23
  4. Jelle
    11 March, 17:34

    GREAT initiative.

    One main remark, though: I guess it can’t be difficult to render a playlist (.m3u) instead of playing the tracks in Boffin itself. That way I can keep using my favourite player, Winamp.

    Jelle – 11 March, 17:34
  5. AngryChad
    11 March, 17:36

    I’ve been looking for something like this for a long, long time. This definitely needs to be rolled into the official client.

    AngryChad – 11 March, 17:36
  6. Rolle
    11 March, 17:45

    For linux-users, songbird already has similar option:

    Rolle – 11 March, 17:45
  7. Pichu0102
    11 March, 17:54

    I too would like a playlist for say iTunes or other players. Also, it would be nice to specify a tag if the tag you want doesn’t pop up by default.

    Pichu0102 – 11 March, 17:54
  8. Rob
    11 March, 18:06

    Yes. Thanks. Fantastic. Amazing. Been looking forward to you guys releasing something like this for ages.

    Boffin as well. Great name :D

    Rob – 11 March, 18:06
  9. jip
    11 March, 18:15

    Doesn’t it scrobble?

    jip – 11 March, 18:15
  10. Max Howell
    11 March, 18:17

    Yes it scrobbles. Via the official scrobbler.

    Max Howell – 11 March, 18:17
  11. Kimiko
    11 March, 18:32

    Nice idea :)

    Two things though:

    - At the bottom of the Boffin thread it says “You are not allowed to reply to this thread.” What’s up with that? I’m logged in on the website.

    - Why is there again no support for Ogg files? The same thing happened with the fingerprinting thing (still waiting for it). It shouldn’t be that hard to link to a library that can read multiple formats, should it?

    Kimiko – 11 March, 18:32
  12. cooperaa
    11 March, 18:37

    Looks really slick but the reason I won’t use it is because it won’t update my iTunes library’s play count/last played date.

    Would be awesome if it integrated with the user’s media player of choice and rather than scanning a directory, scanned the media player’s library. Also, could then play the files in the media player (I know Tangerine—the BPM calculating app—does it this way; same with iVolume).

    cooperaa – 11 March, 18:37
  13. Robin Buckley
    11 March, 18:41

    Wow! I love it!

    Robin Buckley – 11 March, 18:41
  14. Max Howell
    11 March, 18:44

    Sorry, the forum required you to join the group, we’ve adjusted that for now.

    We really want to play other music formats, but distributing and supporting three platforms is not as easy as you might think :( So we’re hoping to make that happen within 4 weeks lets say.

    Max Howell – 11 March, 18:44
  15. Steve Moser
    11 March, 18:51

    Idea of something like this started here:

    I posted a modified version of the script that writes track tags to the groupings field of your mp3’s so that you can make smart playlists of tags. Check it out:

    Steve Moser – 11 March, 18:51
  16. Andreas
    11 March, 19:29

    We need this for our personal libraries too!

    Andreas – 11 March, 19:29
  17. Stas
    11 March, 19:41

    It’s so cool tool, the dream of my life, thank you! :)

    Stas – 11 March, 19:41
  18. Brent Housen
    11 March, 19:49

    Words can not describe how cool this is.

    Brent Housen – 11 March, 19:49
  19. SteveL
    11 March, 20:33

    This is cool. If apple are getting ambitions, it is time to push back. Of course Amarok has used the APIs to help you work through your local music -but it’s UI is a bit clunky in places

    SteveL – 11 March, 20:33
  20. Tim
    11 March, 21:17

    I’m lost…where can I get this?

    Tim – 11 March, 21:17
  21. Donskoy
    11 March, 22:08

    This thing can’t find any tags. Try everything and nothing happens!

    Donskoy – 11 March, 22:08
  22. Keith
    11 March, 22:35

    Why isn’t this already a thing? Where the world has failed, you have succeeded.

    Keith – 11 March, 22:35
  23. tef
    12 March, 01:46

    It seems to work on tiger if you install sqlite3 into /lib.

    Lepoard ships with it.

    tef – 12 March, 01:46
  24. Steve Moser
    12 March, 01:50

    This doesn’t get any of the interesting tags. It is basically another way to browse genres. Where are the ‘interesting’ tags like Summer, melancholy, or icelandic? Just saying. This should grab more tags like my script.

    Steve Moser – 12 March, 01:50
  25. Cadu Garcia
    12 March, 03:07

    Ohhhh!!! I was waiting for something like that for so long! -

    Cadu Garcia – 12 March, 03:07
  26. Master_Bob
    12 March, 04:42

    Why can’t we listen to multi-tag radios on Last.FM?

    Master_Bob – 12 March, 04:42
  27. Irwin1138
    12 March, 04:46

    This is great, but it has problems with unicode, and it seems to be only able to recognize mp3, while half of my music is stored in lossless formats, primarily WavPack, with embedded cue sheet.

    I wasn’t able to get it to work, cuz it keeps spitting the same error.

    Irwin1138 – 12 March, 04:46
  28. Ubqtous
    12 March, 06:13

    Very nice! This addresses a want I didn’t realize I had until I saw your post.

    It would cool if it provided a way to:

    • Clear all tag selections, i.e., start from scratch

    • Define tag groups and save them as presets

    • Generate playlists for external players like Winamp

    • Merge similar tags—especially those that are nearly identical like “hip-hop” and “hip hop”

    Ubqtous – 12 March, 06:13
  29. jacobbrett
    12 March, 08:00

    Sounds great! I’ve been wanting something like this for a long time… now someone just has to port it as a foobar plugin…

    jacobbrett – 12 March, 08:00
  30. Georges
    12 March, 11:00

    Where can I find an executable or a .deb package for Ubuntu? Thanks.

    Georges – 12 March, 11:00
  31. Gofis
    12 March, 12:46

    Cool thing :)

    As lot of people already said, it would be cool if it could generate playlist in external media player (Winamp, WMP, …)

    Than you could have “instrumental”, “rock”, “jazz” etc. playlists generated in no time.

    Just a thought, is there any ambition from to design a complete media (music) player? Sort of “all in one thing”.


    Gofis – 12 March, 12:46
  32. Donskoy
    12 March, 16:24

    Still “no tags have been found”. I tried everithing. Added a lot of tags on site, reorganize my files – and nothing! Help, i want use this program =)
    Vista SP1.

    Donskoy – 12 March, 16:24
  33. Max Howell
    12 March, 16:45

    @Donskoy I’m guessing your music is not mp3?

    Max Howell – 12 March, 16:45
  34. Jorijn Smit
    12 March, 18:51

    Wow I’d love to see this intergrated in iScrobbler or iTunes. KICKASS!!

    Jorijn Smit – 12 March, 18:51
  35. Tony Dodd
    12 March, 20:35

    Max, you are a god among men. The scanning output screen alone is amazing.

    Tony Dodd – 12 March, 20:35
  36. rockhoppers
    12 March, 21:59

    Works a dream – a small feature request is as in the official scroblizer it would be nice to exclude tracks under my iTunes folder (I don’t currently scroble my childrens music – think Humpty Dumpty etc) however the boffin picks these up. Great otherwise – Thanks

    rockhoppers – 12 March, 21:59
  37. Rolo_NL
    13 March, 13:57

    I’d love to use this program at its full strenght, but for some reason after indexing my music it just skips over the songs by starting the first mili-second and then skipping to the next. What am I doing wrong? Is a different configuration able to cure this hiccup?

    I’m using windows xp, iTunes 8.1 and scrobbler

    Rolo_NL – 13 March, 13:57
  38. Eastgate
    14 March, 13:40

    Very nice app so far. Two features I think would be cool is if you could exclude a track when it comes up from being played again, and if you could remove certain tags from displaying in your list.

    Eastgate – 14 March, 13:40
  39. Holzhaus
    15 March, 11:55

    Great, but where’s the Linux binary?

    Holzhaus – 15 March, 11:55
  40. Max Howell
    15 March, 13:38

    I look forward to your submission of a Linux binary. Thanks for offering! There are so many Linux distributions, all with their own packaging formats, so it’s always welcome when people give back in this way.

    Max Howell – 15 March, 13:38
  41. Matthew Connelly
    15 March, 19:35

    I’m looking forward to seeing a debian package for this. I tried building from sourdce, but all I’m getting is shared object errors. Can’t wait for a .deb :)

    Matthew Connelly – 15 March, 19:35
  42. Holzhaus
    15 March, 20:08

    @Max Howell:
    Sorry if I was a bit “bold”.

    I’d like to contribute an OpenSuSE-RPM-package, but unfortunately, boffin doesn’t work for me.

    I could compile, but my I simple doesn’t start. No error messages in the console…simply nothing.

    And even if it worked, I guess, a lot of folks would actually feel safer if it was an “official” package. (Isn’t it possible to make a pkg for all distributions by using statically linked libs and put everything in /opt?)

    @Matthew Connelly:
    Go to “_bin” and do a “LD_LIBRARY_PATH=. ./boffin” instead of “./boffin”. That should work.

    Holzhaus – 15 March, 20:08
  43. Max Howell
    15 March, 23:50

    Linux was designed from the ground up to not support binary distribution. Even if I statically linked everything. And we have a lot of dependencies, so this is a huge task. Even then, we’d not support everything. Certain sub sections of Linux kernel 2.6.x probably, but that is all. Even publishing a deb is a PITA, which variety of Debian am I supporting then? Ubuntu perhaps. Which Ubuntu? 8.10. Which Ubuntu 8.10? Kubuntu 8.10. Oh actually it doesn’t work unless you install the GStreamer Fluendo MP3 plugin and the KDE4 branch of Phonon. Blargh.

    This is why I draw the line at source tarballs nowadays. However our source tarball needs work, make install for instance. That I’ll do at my earliest opportunity.

    And seriously. We’d really appreciate it if people packaged it for us. I’ll very happily link.

    Also if you have Linux issues, I’m happy to help. Please post at the forum or email me. This is not the right medium.

    Max Howell – 15 March, 23:50
  44. schizoform
    16 March, 03:07

    looks great! look forward to FLAC support and playlist import/export.

    schizoform – 16 March, 03:07
  45. match
    17 March, 05:09

    Excite tool! I will try out your tool.

    match – 17 March, 05:09
  46. A
    17 March, 08:23

    How about Mac remote support?

    A – 17 March, 08:23
  47. bloodnut84
    17 March, 09:50

    This is an amazing tool. I was not a Last FM user until I heard about this. Love and Love Boffin!

    Technically speaking, Keep it light weight!

    I do get some crashes, but a re-start sorts it out.

    Well done to all involved!

    bloodnut84 – 17 March, 09:50
  48. Zandrr
    17 March, 15:06

    Nice work! I was looking for something like this, so I really want to use this.

    But i have a slight problem: I have the same problem Rolo_NL has. Just scanned my music folders but when I press ‘play’, it skips over the songs, instead of actually playing them..

    Is there anything we can do about this?

    Zandrr – 17 March, 15:06
  49. Max Howell
    17 March, 20:08

    Bug reports to the forum please.

    Max Howell – 17 March, 20:08
  50. Tecfan
    19 March, 11:00

    I hope this will be built into the official scrobbler?

    Tecfan – 19 March, 11:00
  51. Ina
    19 March, 20:06

    Really great idea!

    Ina – 19 March, 20:06
  52. Clueless
    19 March, 20:39

    Love it and am looking forward to catching all the new bits you choose to nail to it.

    Clueless – 19 March, 20:39
  53. Hannah
    19 March, 22:25

    Love it! But I’d really love to be able to type in my own choice of tags I want it to search for, instead of just listing the most popular. That way I could find moods as well as genres that fit what I wanted (which is more the way I tag things anyway).

    Hannah – 19 March, 22:25
  54. Dirk
    23 March, 13:14

    works great, but definitely needs flac and wavpack support :)

    Dirk – 23 March, 13:14
  55. Trey
    24 March, 02:34

    This is SICK!!!! This has GOT to be built into the next release! The interface is already perfect too (especially the scrolling pictures!) Just fix whatever technical problems come up and this thing is ready for show!! Thanks!

    Trey – 24 March, 02:34
  56. julianmaestas
    24 March, 21:38

    amazing, please include it in next version.

    julianmaestas – 24 March, 21:38
  57. drvid
    25 March, 17:45

    can I please let index all the audio files on my hard drive so I can worry about litigation from the RIAA???

    drvid – 25 March, 17:45
  58. Psi
    25 March, 19:53

    “I have a music collection that I’ve spent years lovingly crafting; all my favourite bands”

    …now imagine I take that data from you, and from everyone else, SELL it for millions, and give nothing back to you.
    Not only that but now you must pay to use our site now that we have what we need….

    Psi – 25 March, 19:53
  59. Christian
    25 March, 20:07

    Best. EULA. Ever.

    Great idea, too!

    Christian – 25 March, 20:07
  60. cool
    25 March, 20:20

    wow, this could be the best feature! lots of potential. it’s like having an ipod shuffle desktop program, only lots smarter. please don’t charge for this feature too, or i will have to mis-tag all my library in protest!

    cool – 25 March, 20:20
  61. Mind Booster Noori
    26 March, 11:00

    It’s a sad sad thing that you just closed the comments on your “we’re gonna make you pay for radio” blog post. Not wanting to listen to your users is a real*bad*decision.

    Mind Booster Noori – 26 March, 11:00
  62. client uninstalled
    26 March, 11:54

    I agree, closing comments just because they’re unpleasant is bad policy, it only enrages people. Although I guess you already have a more than relevant sampling of the public opinion…

    client uninstalled – 26 March, 11:54
  63. Max Howell
    26 March, 12:08

    We closed comments because the blog engine can’t handle it when it has to render 1600 comments! As the post says comment in the forums instead, not on an unrelated post!

    Max Howell – 26 March, 12:08
  64. dick
    26 March, 15:16

    Music should be avaluable for everyone!

    dick – 26 March, 15:16
  65. Fuck Last.FM
    26 March, 16:59

    Howell (H8U) Yeah, of course it can hadle only 1600. So why there are 1651 comments (that is the limit? yeah, sure!) – yours subsribing fee SUCKS

    And You Suck as well!

    It’s my last time with

    Fuck Last.FM – 26 March, 16:59
  66. Max Howell
    26 March, 18:07

    It can handle it, but it starts taking too long to render and the webserver buckles. But believe what you want.

    Max Howell – 26 March, 18:07
  67. Maíra Mee
    26 March, 18:26

    I’m commenting here because comments were closed for the post about becoming a paid service in SOME countries. I’d like to say that this change is outrageous and ridiculous! I live in a poor country where €3 means a lot of money and it is clear to me that it is either the same or worse for the absolute majority of countries which are going to be forced to pay. Why is it going to remain free for only three countries? How come the countries in which you don’t have to pay are countries where the poorest people have incomes which are 10 times the income of the middle class in my country? This is offensive! You are going to become just another paid service on a corner of the net. In case you didn’t notice Brazil is the first country in number of users of social networks. We are all losing here. There are no winners with this stupid change.

    Maíra Mee – 26 March, 18:26
  68. Max Howell
    26 March, 22:33 would cease to exist without this change. Anyone who loves wins. This is simply the case.

    Music costs the same wherever we stream it. It is senseless to be angry at us about this fact. We do not choose the prices.

    More reason to use Boffin perhaps? It’s not as though we’re only about streaming music. Applications like Boffin are also produced for free for you, with very little financial incentive for us.

    Max Howell – 26 March, 22:33
  69. Angry
    27 March, 08:54

    Fuck yourself, idiots! This is very bad idea – to enforce users to pay you. You will lose the most part of your users because of that. It`s absolute not fair – for one countries it will stay free, for others – paid..

    Bye bye

    P.S. I`ve been listening lastfm for three years and never expect that such changes will come…

    Angry – 27 March, 08:54
  70. rostasi
    29 March, 00:32

    Well, back to the REAL subject here…
    The Boffin idea is pretty cool.
    I have too many tunes for it to go thru each time – it takes about 6 hours – but maybe for small libraries it may work fine.


    rostasi – 29 March, 00:32
  71. Themeros
    30 March, 03:27

    Guys, you have to make an option available to show only MY tags from!

    I don’t care about what others tag my music like, I want MY tags because it is my personal library!

    I’ve been wanting something like this forever and it is close to happening.

    Please, make my dream come true!

    Themeros – 30 March, 03:27
  72. beenhere
    2 April, 10:31

    I’d rather pay for the CD’s then pay to listen to them on the internet!
    (Plus not all songs are full tracks).


    beenhere – 2 April, 10:31
  73. groug
    2 April, 20:48

    It’s really great. It works perfectly, I love it!

    groug – 2 April, 20:48
  74. Dennis
    10 April, 07:59

    It´s a nice feature for me … Boffin is cool. The changes on are good, thanks a lot of ;)

    Best greetings from

    Dennis – 10 April, 07:59
  75. mojaam
    12 April, 14:39

    Oh my this is nice. Must incorporate in next version! That will give my winamp player a run for it’s money.

    mojaam – 12 April, 14:39
  76. mojaam
    12 April, 14:42

    Also, hope you guys are able to filter out all the horrible comments from haters and not let it affect you. is a great service and so keep doing you thing.

    mojaam – 12 April, 14:42
  77. shadevampire
    12 April, 16:23

    Works fine in windows, altough it sometimes crashes but… I just simply love it ;) I use it almost equally to winamp. Keep it up, this is the right way! :)

    Bugfix and straight to the next release!

    shadevampire – 12 April, 16:23
  78. shadevampire
    12 April, 16:50

    Just some ideas: – a gender-ratio system would be great: I mean, I could set 80% hip-hop and 20% electro, or like this – plus other rating systems (x of 5 or x of 10)

    shadevampire – 12 April, 16:50
  79. shadevampire
    12 April, 17:56

    Another note: I’ve got the same gender with multiple tags and different weight -> I have dnb and drum and bass; hip hop and hip-hop etc.

    shadevampire – 12 April, 17:56
  80. shadevampire
    12 April, 18:08

    another idea: would be great if I hit minimize the program could appear in system-tray (bottom-right) and not in windows-tray. This is almost a core feature to music-players.

    shadevampire – 12 April, 18:08
  81. Robson
    19 April, 12:08

    So… you’re basically bringing back multiple tag radio?

    About time too. Never made sense that you couldn’t randomly listen to music that sounded both jazzy and soulful yet you could play specific tracks that you wanted on demand for free 3 times…

    Robson – 19 April, 12:08

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