Allmusic’s redesign should be public soon with lots of goodies for music lovers

In: building online products|music|user experience

12 Jul 2004

Allmusic

The Allmusic beta preview I’ve seen looks nice, though it felt a bit sluggish (the dll-based architecture and long-winded URLs are still there) and there are some bugs left, so I’m not sure the site is really ready for launch today as advertised (search gets me a javascript error, that alone is a showstopper). One thing the site supports better is discovery by browsing around. You can for instance explore it by instrument, and you’ll get a blurb about, say, the trumpet, as well as a list of top related artists and albums. This is still a bit crude though since you can’t combine that facet with others. What I’d be interested in is the intersection of instrument and mood, or instrument and genre, for instance what is significant in piano blues or aggressive electric bass?
There are still some datapoints you cannot use as pivots, for instance even though Chopin is filed under the Romantic era, that period is not a hotlink that would lead to its own area on the site (which is frustrating because contemporary works are supposed to be browsable by decade, though that feature doesn’t work too well).
The new sortable list/detail format is more efficient to let you browse a discography, and other features such as the picture browser let you access more content without reloading the whole page. Some features such as advanced search (which loads within the page too) will require free registration.
Overall, this feels like a nice update to an invaluable resource that makes better use of the huge underlying database (and now classical is merged with the rest), here’s hoping the rough edges will be ironed out soon.


07/13/04 update: so they’ve rolled it out almost as is. Until the poor performance is solved, it’s not really worth commenting about the rest. Andrew Baio notes several flaws, from lack of cross-browser compatibility, to the fact you need to click a lot more to get whole biographies or discographies, which starts to be really annoying when you use the site for any length of time. I emailed them yesterday because I’d love to work with them to not only fix those things but take the site further, but the way the whole site is done is weird (really, the URL structure and lack of search engine indexing doesn’t make sense either from a business or technical perspective).
07/14/04 update: Allmusic is going all defensive in a post on their site which discussed on waxy. My hunch at this point is this is an insular team not terribly interested in learning from the outside world. Too bad, because their overdesigned approach to the web belongs to another age and holds them back. You guys are leaving money on the table and are creating pain for yourselves that you could avoid in the first place. It’s still fixable if you’re willing to reconsider your priorities and development practices.

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I'm CEO of an online/mobile trade publishing firm in the marketing and defense verticals. We strive to make news and data digestible and useful in an environment that is noisier by the day.

This personal blog mixes my thoughts and interests on politics, business, publishing, software, and more. Over the years I have posted items that turned out spectacularly wrong, and a few posts that better stood the test of time.

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