Roon: Taming the File Wilderness for Audio Creatives With a One-Stop, Lossless Hub
Roon, the player for serious music lovers, has long been a darling of the audiophile world, with more than 100k subscribers.
The service lets users compile files native to their device and listen side-by-side with hi-res streaming services, all in lossless quality. But its real magic comes into play when creatives harness its metadata side.
“Roon uses rich, multi-layered metadata from dozens of sources to reveal hidden connections between performers, songwriters, producers, and composers,” notes Enno Vandermeer, CEO and founder of Roon Labs. “Users can draw on their personal file libraries as well as commercial streaming services, and then listen on almost any audio device. Though many music lovers come for the high-quality audio, they discover Roon is a powerful tool they can use in their creative work.”
Roon helps songwriters, performers, producers, engineers, A&R execs, and music supervisors bring order to what can feel untameable, digging through hard drives like crates and using metadata to connect unreleased tracks and mixes.
It lets creatives listen to mixes alongside reference tracks and with an interface like a streaming app, Roon can show an artist’s work in context, allowing everyone at a session to get a feel for what the final release will look and sound like.
It lets engineers and producers create a private streaming service from files, where clients, friends, or collaborators can log onto Roon and listen to sessions, jams, live performances, or other recordings.
Roon lets creatives do all this by weaving together metadata attached to each file.
In addition, it draws on a multitude of sources to create context and draw connections across files and streams, mapping musician networks, scenes, and movements in compelling ways — whether that track has been out for two decades or never released. Recently, Roon integrated 24 new non-English editorial data sources, so users can select their preferred language and fully localize their experience. Roon draws on local sources of editorial content, certain metadata, and even transliterates artist names into non-Roman characters.
This interlacing of global data is all about supporting the music, the listening experience. It’s the heart of Roon, what inspired the service to begin with.
“I was living in New York City in the 90s, hanging around with a lot of creative people from music, film, and theater. Our big social activity was listening to records together. We sat around reading liner notes while we listened,” explains Vandermeer. “By really digging into the credits–who was involved in the records we loved and what connected them–we enhanced what the music did for us. Musicians and music pros still think this way.”
Vandermeer has marveled at how creatively music pros use this aspect of Roon. He’s heard from A&R execs who need a secure, private, sonically excellent way to review demos. He’s learned how producers use Roon to showcase mixes for clients, and how broadcasters use Roon to find unexpected but spot-on programming options or to have all their sound files at their fingertips across devices.
“Roon works better than cloud drives or storage, because we connect metadata and provide automatic architecture for music files,” Vandermeer says. “This web of data tames the file wilderness, where some of our best ideas can lurk.”
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