Quick – you’ve got a music file that someone (a collaborator, a client, a friend) needs to hear. How do you send it to them?

It seems countless Web entrepreneurs have new ways for sharing media – there are online Flash-based music editing applications, social networks, elaborate MySpace and Facebook killers. We’ve been impressed with some, like the rich player and commenting and fans on Soundcloud or the ability to create artist/band pages that really work on Bandcamp. (The latter, I do really want to spend more time with.)

But sometimes, these services are overkill. This week, I had to get some revised sound scores to a choreographer so he could have them in a rehearsal. I didn’t want to share them with my network of friends or let people remix them in Flash – I just needed to get them to him in the easiest way possible.

That’s where drop.io is just absolutely gorgeous and lovable. Using something else? This is probably better.

1. There’s not even a login. Click a button, upload a file, done. You can add your email address and password if you need to be updated, but even that isn’t necessary.
2. You get an instant short URL – either automatically generated or customizable.
3. Drop any media you want – images, music, etc.
4. You get instant in-browser playing / viewing, and embeddable links and downloads.
5. Control: non-public if you like, expire whenever you want, let others add files.
6. It’s free for basic usage, and the free account isn’t crippled. You get 100MB of space per drop. Need more than that, and you can upgrade, but I think a lot of folks will be pleased with the free plan. Fortunately, the premium plan is powerful enough (branding, bigger drops) that premium users may be able to subsidize the occasional, casual user.
7. Integration: Firefox add-in, Twitter, etc.

In other words, this kicks YouSendIt’s sorry, badly-designed, clunky and non-functional a**.

playlist.io, announced this week, allows easy, playable playlists, so ideal if you have a set of tracks – all with the same features of drop.io

It’s probably not how you want to share video or whole projects. But for a quick audio bounce of your current track, photos of the venue you’ll be gigging at, and the like, it’s about perfect. There’s a place for more complex tools that allow you to collaborate on, say, custom designs for music software or hardware or elaborate session sets. But that makes it even nicer to have a quick tool that solves a simple problem.

And speaking of “tools that get things done up against tight deadlines,” drop.io has added a whole new dimension:

Real-time functionality

The folks at drop.io (who work just over the river from me in DUMBO Brooklyn, that “other” Silicon Alley) have been hard at work on new real-time functionality.

What this means is, you can instantly add media, notes, and chat message, even via a mobile device, and everything is there instantly. So, someone calls on the phone and wants a file. It’s up there instantly, and you can even comment on it, make changes, and get it done.

Speaking as someone who is constantly missing deadlines, um, I mean regularly procrastinating things until the last minute, uh, erm …. uh, always overbooked and dealing with crises … uh, I mean, “moving at the speed of innovation,” this sounds like a lifesaver / problem solver.

There’s no question this is of use to music pros and the ilk. I know the people doing music and sound design for South Park have regularly emailed MP3 files in order to get them on the air on Comedy Central the same day. We’re a “just-in-time” — or, perhaps, “barely on time” crowd, the digital creatives.

I’ll be really curious to hear how you use this, and what other tools are out there you like. And because drop.io is a relatively simple tool, I’m equally interested to see what might be possible with their open API. Let us know what you think.

Updated: Via comments, Kyran notes that Dropbox is also a really strong option. What I like about Dropbox: desktop clients, sync capabilities, easy sharing of whole folders, revisions, and most of the chat features. What I like about Drop.io: stupidly-simple quick file uploading one file + url. Drop.io is to me sort of Twitter-style file uploading. Dropbox is also a really terrific solution. I could actually see using a little of both, which is why lightweight solutions are nice.

  • Kyran

    I use dropbox for this kind of thing. Just drop the file in the public folder and get the link to people that need it.

    If I also need input from the other side I share a folder with them (though this does require them to have a dropbox account)

    I don't see this drop.io thing improve that workflow. Especially since dropbox also has a webinterface.

  • https://www.getdropbox.com/

    This has similar functionality, but it needs to be installed on your local computer. You get a free 2GB to store your data and can produce public links easily for sharing your data with friends.

    A great tool for working on projects. Even supports work revisions and undeleting previous files.

  • +1 on dropbox, especially for the huge filesizes. Really nice for video sharing

  • i like http://sharebee.com for redundancy and works well for my twitter addicts

  • another +1 for dropbox
    super clean and really easy.

  • ex-fanboy


    i prefer megaupload.

    1 gig space with the same conditions you listed above.

    a send my vj stuff around with this a couple times a week!

  • @fanboy: Yipes, really?!

    I can't stand getting megaupload files because they're such a royal pain to deal with. Surely with s3, etc., there should be a way to get bigger files – even for a small fee – without that much hassle. It's just painful on the receiving end. Ditto box.net.

  • B.C. Thunderthud

    My mom made a dropbox account and I installed the app just to take a look but I uninstalled it again within 15 minutes. The idea that you need an application, and a taskbar app at that, to use a website, no freaking way. Wake me up when they get a clue.

  • ex-fanboy

    hmm what's the pain?

    i upload my mpeg, mov or whatever and the agency/customer downloads it… there's no special "megaupload" format.

    or did you mean the captcha?

  • @ex-fanboy: Well, maybe I'm just a design snob or something. But I just remember, yeah, annoying captchas and a delay if I'm not a premium user and ugly site design … if it were the only option, that'd be one thing, but there are other ways of moving files around.

  • ex-fanboy

    ok you got me there 🙂

  • Adrian Anders

    This could be great for free podcast hosting as well. I must look into this further… I've hosted my first mix podcast on http://www.darkaudio.co.uk but this could be great for further episodes (especially if I take in directions other than straight DJ mixing)


  • I do find that dropbox app to be needlessly intrusive, having just tried it. You know, at a certain point I just want subversion, rsync / rdiff, and a server… and I'm kind of surprised no one has just packaged those things into friendlier versions.

    For a quick web fix, I have to say my preferred choice here would be drop.io. I'd have to do some maths to work out what's best for bigger files, though.

  • Pan

    Good for little files, just like drop.io

  • I’m a long-time fan of Senduit, from the makers of Tumblr, because it literally cannot be simpler. I use this to collaborate with a colleague on short film projects (commercials, etc) all the time. It doesn't have a lot of features (it doesn't have ANY features, actually, which is what I love), but if you just need someone else to possess a file it’s the best.

    The only problem is that there’s no progress bar for uploads so a successful upload-in-progress looks the same as a hang, but it’s pretty reliable in my experience.

  • Oh, Pan!

  • Kyran

    What do you find intrusive about dropbox?
    It just runs a daemon that monitors a specific folder on your system and that's it.
    (I run it on linux so I don't have all the nifty shell integration, but it works just as well)

    Microsoft launched his own take on this (live mesh), but I find that way much more intrusive than dropbox.

    I really like the simplicity of dropbox: want it synced, just drop it in the box and you're done.

  • Actually, they just added a whole bunch of crap to the Linux version, in the Nautilus extension. But maybe I can turn off the silly notification they added. 😉 I think it's just the Nautilus stuff.

    And yes, the Live Mesh thing is out of control.

  • samu

    I'm amazed by how unintrusive dropbox is. I haven't actually had to DO anything for months, and yet all my project files have been remotely backed up, synced to the relevant people's computers, accessible to me from any web-connected machine, and easily shared with anyone else I want to show them to, just by saving or moving to particular local folders. Magic.

    Thunderthud, with respect, I think you've missed the point of dropbox; you don't install the app so that you can use the website, you install it so that the relevant folders are automatically synced with it. This might not be useful for you, but it's near-perfect for a lot of us. They're very, very far from clueless, trust me.

  • samu

    Thunderthud: If all you wanted to do was receive a file from your mother, get her to put it in her Public folder, right click to get the link, and send that to you. Then just click to download. No need for the client.

  • I'm giving the client a second try. 🙂

    Slightly unrelated but on the subject of rsync (the tool), there's this:

    — more for backup than for sharing. But then, that's part of the point; backup and sharing to me are two very different applications. Live Sync seems to fail because it tries to be everything, but succeeds at nothing.

  • G_Man

    i use Sendspace Wizard. you have to install it on your computer, but uploading files is super-easy and what i like most is that you can stop the upload and continue it later on. plus, you can see how many people have dwnlded your files. oh, and it's fast too.

  • format.k

    i've been using drop io for client transfers for a few years now. It's perfect if i want to send large files without needing a password protected ftp. it looks clean simple and professional and works well. I still think ftp is best though or even apples new me.com where you can create password protected files. The transfer download from me.com isactually pretty fast.

  • Guys… ftp?

    But for http senduit is kinda neat.

  • @radian, FTP is an option but for one thing. Logging in. The simplicity of simply sending someone a link, versus the chances that their web knowledge will balk at the idea of FTP makes for an easy choice. Especially when doing promo/marketing, which boils down to "easier the better".

    I use FTP for session files and things i want to keep private, with people i work closely with. For anything else, its the simplicity of one of these instant send services.

    Although, i recently entertained a friend with the revelation of what some of these services mean for the privacy of files they send. There are many indexing and search engines made for some of the most popular of these file transfer sites, and i was able to show my friend the zip file of remix parts he sent to another producer for what was a relatively high profile release in his scene. That should scare anyone who thinks that these services are entirely benign. If you use them, then rename the file names!

    Thats a common trick now in music publicity by the way. I get sent press releases with promo links that have no resemblance to the actual artist or release, but the file unzips to contain the data/music, and often even that is named obscurely. So just be mindful that your data is still, in some ways, "public" on a lot of these services.

    Lastly, i recommend Mediafire as an alternative to all these "wait 30 seconds" and "enter the code" style services. At the moment Mediafire seems simple, free, neat, no flood of popups or captchas, and as such, superior. Time to try Drop.io though 🙂

  • DJ Tree

    I use Pando. It lets me do up to 1gig of info. It has its own client, which would seem like a bad thing but its small and clean.

  • alby bach

    drop.io looks pretty good
    checked the video on there site
    seems what ive been looking for
    for posting my music and vst plugins online

    because my current host takes forever to upload
    between 30 and 45 minutes sometimes more
    and thats just for one 7 min mp3
    this really puts me off updating my page

    also when i upload a track would i still need to put the links into a flash music player
    before posting to myspace

    alby bach.

  • Kyran

    Peter: you don't have to download the nautilus plugin. I'm on kde so I can't use it.

    You can just download the binary in their forum and extract it in your home folder.

    When you start it, it will ask for a folder to sync and put in the tray icon, but no intrusive overlay and popup stuff, just plain syncing of the folder. It's really beautifull in all it's simplicity

  • Joshua Davis

    You know Adrive just required that you pay for their file sharing service if you don't want your links to expire after 14 days…. pain. I was sharing recordings, music and confrences with others using snipurl.com . Snipurl.com and file Sharing match eachother perfectly allowing you complete control over the length and the name of the link. Presentation is everything baby. Anyways I will have to try this drop.io….

  • audioworld

    for syncing multiple computers plus web acces plus download package links for clients I can recommend:
    its not free, but the 2.50 per month for 10gigs are well worth the money. we have synced three pcs and one mac and we do not need a file server in the studio, as we send everything via sugarsync, even if its just from one room to the next. there is a "Magic Briefcase" folder which syncs automatically by downloading to each computer, you can share folders which you can access but are not synced, there is browser access if you do not want to install a client (or need your files on a business trip), you can send "Download Links" to clients without giving them acces to the full folder, and it is rock solid and 100% available since one year in our setup.

    for larger files >2gig we use Amazon S3 with http://jungledisk.com
    client. much slower, but very reliable and affordable (5$ per month for 50gig transfer each month as long-term backup).

  • insilico

    I used to use drop.io but i found it sketchy at times – sometimes the password would fail, sometimes the drop wouldnt load properly etc. plus you can't get a direct link to files (as far as i know)

    then i discovered dropbox. easy drag and drop into a folder. send a direct link to d/l.

    if i want to keep stuff private i just make it a password protected rar/zip. easy

  • meatshake

    It's very professional and very expensive, but Digidelivery is rock solid and safe… in fact I don't think I''ve ever failed a send or receive since I first used it, 5+ years ago. Out of the question for a single person unless that person is very busy and makes a lot of coin.
    it's even used by many corporations for secure delivery of all sorts of stuff, not just audio and video. I realize it's not really part of this discussion, just wanted to throw out there that there are pro solutions to this in use.

  • Miguel

    One more vote for Dropbox. It's the best free-hosting/syncing thing around.

  • Louis

    First thing in my dock – http://www.quickshareit.com/

    Drag one or more files / folders onto the icon, as they upload the status appears over the icon, and on completion the url is automatically placed on the clipboard for pasting into an e-mail or IM.