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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I hated Disco.

As a trend. A fashion statement. Mostly though, as a musical style. Yeah, I had a disco sucks bumper sticker. (Our Lady of Van Halen, pray for us.) Thanks to YouTube though, Disco is back. Not, the stuff masquerading as techno/house/trance these past few years, but their new Music Discovery Project mix & match playlist thing.

Basically, Disco still sucks far as I’m concerned.

We talked about how people listen and share music on a recent AdVerve, and YTD highlights a few of the problems we discussed. Since people in social media and user experience need their metaphors to explain trends—and sell books—I have one!

So I’ve bitched before about how UX and the functionality of online communities like Facebook et al. are like cars, just with the shit you expect to be in the same place rearranged on each one, right? After trying Disco for all of three minutes, the all-in-one printer-fax-scanner metaphor fits better:

The device that does a lot of things, just, not any one of them very well.

The good:
Concept? Great. YouTube finally realizing people use it for more than just videos, but as MTV basically. (When, MTV played music.) Search for a band, add it to a playlist and there ya go. In this regard, it capitalizes on the iTunes Genius mindset: Here’s what’s trending, try it.

That’s about all for the good stuff.

The bad:
Users of any other music streaming site will immediately notice the limited functionality. Playlists require a few steps to create. You can’t just drag and drop. Song suggestions seem to be an opt-out kinda interface that you have to clear. It doesn’t make relevant alternative recommendations based on your recent views. Sharing is not easily facilitated. Player controls are painfully absent. The sound quality of clips is not great.

In other words, it’s perfect for your mom.

Those last two though plague all music sites, and are my biggest peeve. No, not that your mom is on them, but, player control and sound quality.

Ironically, started showing YouTube clips in their search results some time ago. Put a face to the song and all, but why it works is that I have a choice of a really good quality version plus what’s on YouTube. Disco though doesn’t have a decent quality mp3 version somewhere to rely on—you get what’s there and what’s been *cleared* by the digital rights crowd.

The biggest thing about the all-in-one fax mindset though is player controls.

With iTunes, Apple may just be the best in terms of repeat, playlist management, an EQ, etc. Other sites aren’t that close. Hype Machine, Last, Pandora and MySpace all handle things differently. That said, Blip’s biggest advantage may be it’s sibling relationship to Twitter, while MySpace’s player is decent, offering a lot of what imeem had.)

Maybe Steve Jobs spoiled me, but I just haven’t found another site that replicates the iTunes experience. Steve has the features I want, nay, crave.

The only thing I see that all of them do the same is having a volume slider bar. Really? That’s it? Sounds like I’m in whiny bitch mode, but, when you have control over online content as YouTube does, there’s no excuse for ignoring the features that people have come to expect on other sites.

Competing social communities seem to care more about their own proprietary lingo and functionality at the expense of more widely adopted user behaviors. I don’t understand how a site like YouTube that has Google money behind it can misfire this badly when it comes to development.

People get used to a certain level of functionality, and when you don’t offer it, you’re not giving them a reason to use your new toy, let alone love it enough to share it.

Least your mom will like it.

1 comment:

Woot said...

given you don't like disco and you're not happy about youtube's new gizmo, i thought you might appreciate this link...

this one might suit yr guitar sensibilities a bit more...

and this is quality no nonsense business...

for the record, i use youtube as my office/studio jukebox all the time -i like the fact i can just type in what i want to hear and instantly be offered lots of different versions to listen to; live, alternate takes, bootlegs etc. most 'official' music distribution channels only offer you the officially released version of a song, which seriously limits my listening experience.