What if you could record directly online from a Web browser – no additional software needed? It’s not a new idea, but online music community Indaba has an interesting new Java-based tool that gets one step closer. We took a first look at the tool last month, but it’s now publicly available at indabamusic.com today. Indaba shared with CDM some video walking us through the feature set, and the company founders also answered some of my questions. For the musicians in the audience, we’ll have some more hands-on time with this tool to see if it’s something you can use. (My guess is, it’s something you might use alongside your existing tool of choice.) For the developers and Java fans (or skeptics), I also want to dig a little deeper in the Java and JavaFX platforms behind the scenes.

What can you do when making music in a browser?

  • Work online or offline.
  • Record directly online and share immediately.
  • Work across platforms, directly in the browser.
  • Add real-time effects, mixing, and even multitrack automation for adjusting levels.

Indaba isn’t alone in some of these features, but the ability to have high-performance, non-destructive audio effects and to record directly into the program without the typical browser restraints is definitely a step forward from other solutions.

Pricing will include a relatively full-featured free plan, plus $5/mo and $25/mo tiers adding additional clips, online storage workspace, and real-time non-destructive effects. (Video sharing service Vimeo recently adjusted their free/Pro distinction, a subject Jaymis covered for Create Digital Motion yesterday.)

Here’s our own Q&A to get things rolling:

CDM: Obviously, we have readers who are very comfortable with some existing, non-browser-based tools. But I can see them having a place for a browser tool as a supplement. How might some of those kinds of people use Indaba, as you envision it?

Indaba: The Indaba console is fully integrated with our global community of musicians, so it’s much easier to share work and collaborate on mixes. Even if your readers currently use non-browser-based tools, the Indaba console enables them to work together seamlessly from any computer without having to transfer files from machine to machine. What’s more, because the Indaba console is web-based, it can capture inspiration that strikes when artists are on the road or otherwise away from their studios. For musicians who don’t currently use complex DAWs, the Indaba console can be even more – a turnkey solution for recording, editing, and mixing.

Why JavaFX? What specifically was possible with JavaFX versus, say, Flash – given that at least some basic DSP functions we have seen in Flash?

The real decision was to build a Java application. A signed Java app gives us the freedom we need to tap into client-side hardware (sound-card, hard drive etc) and the power we need to handle multiple non-destructive effects. Other client-side technologies simply can’t offer this level of access. JavaFX gave us the ability to develop a sexy interface that wouldn’t look/feel like the stereotypical java apps of yesteryear. Going forward, this will enable us to do some pretty amazing things.

Ed. – note, that generally answer leads to some follow-up, specific development questions I have regarding implementation on Mac, Windows, and Linux, so we can talk more about those details – feel free to pass along your own thoughts and I’ll see what I can learn.

CDM: It’s nice to see the Creative Commons license on the sample materials. Will there be ways for artists using Creative Commons to release their own clips / share their own loops?

Not in this release but shortly thereafter. For now there are hundreds of clips available to our members.

Will there be an API for other sites to hook into what Indaba users are doing / what they’re doing on the Java-FX-based editing platform?

It’s definitely something we’re planning on releasing at some point. At the moment, we have private APIs for corporate partners.

What are some likely workflows with the new tool? How does that differ from previous versions?

It cuts a tremendous amount of overhead out of the process and is a simple and quick way to capture your ideas in high quality. Previously you had to download tracks, record locally, bounce them out of your DAW and upload them to the site… Now you can pop open the Console, record in high quality and mix your song all within Indaba.

Stay tuned for more details. And, of course, Indaba does have some competition on the Web; it’ll be interesting to see how it all stacks up.