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"A Music Adventure." [locked]

level 39
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 10 feb 08 10:06 a.m.
To clarify the ad thing. I would guess that because it looks like people migrate to features outside of the home page as they level up, and users that are around more often (higher level) see the same ads over and over and are less apt to click per page visit.

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level 21
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 10 feb 08 10:18 a.m.
I just wanted to say, for the record, that the changes made had absolutely nothing to do with money. I find it a little disrespectful to even submit this as possibility, especially since Sam and I have been very transparent and deliberate about not letting advertising detract from the site experience. Visit any other site on the web and you'll know what I mean.

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level 13
Tortillas and Chocolate Dip | 10 feb 08 10:31 a.m.
If we may be so bold as to flaunt dear K-Ray's dictum that there shall be a moratorium on the subject...

As an independent band that struggles to make music that is accessible, yet not insipid, this is something we often ponder, so you will please forgive us for the long and circuitous diatribe below:

Hidari is, in simple terms, a pop rock band: a product of nearly a century of forced evolution through the medium of radio (and later, television) and the personal tastes of both the audience and those middlemen (and very occasionally middlewomen) who determined which artists would proliferate. The duration, dynamics, structure, and sound have been refined to a somewhat absurd degree as certain songwriting, production, and mixing techniques have gained superiority over others for various reasons. These areas have been largely standardized, irrespective of genre classification and other differences we as listeners usually pay more attention to. In music, as in any art, there is a constant flux as the status quo ossifies and is, in turn, rebelled against. But this process has accelerated to the point where both exist more or less simultaneously. It doesn't help that in this Age of Irony the difference between the two is often academic. (In Hot Topic, they play punk covers of teeny-bopper pop songs, which is almost beautiful in a soul-crushing kind of way.)

The recording (not, it is important to note, the performing or creation) of music has been democratized by advances in technology and general economic prosperity (i.e. more leisure time to spend on 'frivolous' things like art). But at the same time, in the U.S. Clear Channel rules the airwaves.

(The history of radio and how it shaped music is quite interesting. Wikipedia's entry on Music Radio and this article on About Top 40 radio are worth a look.)

The result is that the [verse/chorus]x3 rules, songs rarely run longer than five minutes, dynamics are generally pretty static (someone flipping through radio stations is unlikely to settle on something with a long, slow buildup a la Smashing Pumpkins' Porcelina of the Vast Oceans, for one), vocals tend to sound a certain way, guitars often sound another, and so on. We neither applaud nor decry this state of affairs, it is simply the way it is; although we do find the lack of variety unfortunate and more than a little sad. Fortunately the afore-mentioned spread of the tools to facilitate the process of producing and distributing recorded music ensure that there will never again be a dearth of new things for us aficionados to listen to. There's lots more chaff, sure, but also more sweet, succulent wheat. Tender golden grains of sustenance - giver of life and empowerer of... oh, erm, heh. Rice is okay, too.

(Lest we paint too bleak a picture, know that even the state of the mainstream could be oh so much worse. In Japan particularly, corporations rule almost uninhibited. When it comes to art, unlike most of the rest of the world where the line between underground and mainstream are fuzzier and there is plenty of crosstalk, here it's a case of ne'er-the-twain-shall-meet. Established world-famous acts like Shonen Knife and Guitar Wolf have large and rabid followings and have sold millions of albums across the globe, but you will pretty much never see them on television or given any other mainstream validation in this country outside of the packed performance venues they play to. Which is fine, but extremely odd. Until last fall, a magazine had never printed a top 100 list of Japanese rock albums. When it finally happened, it was in the Japanese version of Rolling Stone (which is not a native magazine, obviously). On a lighter note, for a funny example of how draconian some Japanese companies are - particularly how much they fear the internet, see this article. Oh the hilarity.)

Point, point, point... a-ha! Here it was all this time, hiding behind the refrigerator with the bread crumbs and that mysterious black, sticky substance...

When Hidari posts a new song we are benefited in those crucial first few hours by the fact that we are (as established above) a pop rock band. Our songs are melodic and catchy, and although there is nuance and layering to our music, it is not a requirement to listen attentively or repeatedly to enjoy the song. (The fact that our songs aren't in English is another matter entirely. People in the United States are apparently so repulsed by foreign languages that they will reshoot entire films shot for shot just so audiences won't have to deal with those pesky little subtitles or shoddy dubs. At least, that's what Hollywood thinks. I guess we're just lucky that people have given us the benefit of the doubt.) We've done all right here, and it's made us feel better about our prospects should we decide to venture forth into the wide world and peddle our wares.

On the other hand, when the norman conquest uploads a thirty-minute experimental vocal epic, how many people are going to give it a fair shake when there are a dozen other songs that could potentially rocket up a few hundred points in a matter of seconds? We are wary of the bandwagon effect, which is one of the reasons we tend to only post on the walls of the comparatively few people who have actually added our songs, which we take to indicate that they truly do enjoy our music and intend to listen to it again. Bumps, on the contrary, are a devalued currency in our eyes, and at worst they prove only that someone thought other people would find a song popular. (Of course that is just one artist's perspective, and not particularly relevant to most of you.)

So although it benefits acts like ourselves, it's difficult in a philosophical sense to support a feature that reinforces the practice of judging a song based on a snippet (i.e. the radio playability test). The notion of encouraging listeners to act in like radio programming directors, A&R; people, or anyone else whose job it is to filter out anything that won't sell is frankly a bit nauseating.

Conversely, it is ridiculous to presume that anyone is going to suddenly drop their biases and preconceptions and start listening to German noise operas composed for four dishwashers and a homophobic parrot. Creating a space and time for someone to discover this latent, unknown desire to hear that particular music, however, is a noble pursuit.

So for those of you who are confused about the motives behind this change, it is simply a matter of idealism. The preceding history lesson was intended to hopefully provide you with some modicum of perspective, that the change was not arbitrary and spiteful, but quite the opposite. If the men behind the curtains are to err, we prefer for them to err in the direction of naïve optimism. If you want your internet radio to pander to you, try Pandora. (That was just too juicy not to work it in there somewhere.)

It seems appropriate at this juncture to slip into an over-elaborate and ill-fitting metaphor, as seems to be the fad. Imagine, if you will, a chicken coop. Suspend your egos for the briefest of moments and picture yourself both beaked and clad in feathers. When you've finished shrieking/chuckling, turn your attention to the giant tube protruding from a corner of the coop. "That's funny," you're thinking. "Why is there a giant tube in the chi-" And now gallons of chicken feed are spilling out from this tube onto the floor and you are too distracted by the notion of filling your belly to think about much else.

(Okay, so maybe the barnyard analogy is too obscure. What about the classic "record store" model? So Sam and James are the owners of the shop, and the listeners are the customers. The hot page is the, uh, listening stations. Or maybe it's the background music that's playing in the store. The Tunebox is like the Blackberry message spam you get on your mobile from your friends in other parts of the store and artists spying on you from the store surveillance cameras. The Rack is like the fat twelve-year-old kid of indeterminate gender who keeps flinging random CDs at your head without . The forum is the smoking shelter outside where everyone gathers to discuss how the store is being run. Now which part of the site is the snide hipster clerk with the ridiculous facial hair who scowls and tuts at your purchase? And points are, um, money? Wait, that doesn't make sense. We've never once made a profit off a trip to the record store. Okay, we're sticking with the chickens.)

What has been done here, more or less, is to plug the feed tube, because Farmer Sam and Farmer James saw that too many chickens were trampling each other, accidentally swallowing small pebbles and cats along with the grain, and using a salad fork when they should clearly be using a dessert fork. Step one has been enacted, to protect the cats and everyone's dignity. Step two is to find another way to keep you extremely large and ugly chickens fed while maintaining some measure of sanity: spreading the fresh feed around the yard, if you will.

It should be possible for listeners to follow their own organic and dynamic routes through the site. To that end, here are some vague and open-ended proposals that we think would improve the site in some critical ways.

• Links between artists (perhaps dynamically generated, preferably selected by the artists and/or listeners - ideally some combination of these)
• A more robust recommendation system
• As obliquely suggested in our chicken coop illustration, spread out the new releases somehow - randomize them, stagger them, put them in cardboard boxes where they will lurk until some hapless listener strolls by for them to pounce on. Don't obscure them, just don't present them in a linear stream
• Alternatives to the Rack
• Limit (or rather reimagine) revives - this is another feature that isn't very scalable

Here's a more specific idea: allow higher-level users to feature a single song on a fourth homepage tab, perhaps called 'Recommended'. This would hopefully create a more eclectic mix than the hot/new pages. Revives should also perhaps be relegated to their own page or folded into this feature somehow.

thesixtyone is still evolving, and we plan on sitting here for some time, watching and smiling down from our diamond thrones high in the clouds. For those of you who can weather this harshest of storms intact, we will save a stone for you in the groveling pit.


Song fades to silence
The snake devours its own tail
Monkeys and buckets

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level 39
Re: Tortillas and Chocolate Dip | 10 feb 08 10:57 a.m.
Wow. Nice Post Hidari. Are you guys as elegant in Japanese as you are in English?

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level 37
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 10 feb 08 11:38 a.m.
not letting advertising detract from the site experience.

How about requiring the adverts pop into a new window?
I click advertisements to, hopefully, get you some click through props. (Probably will get the Counting Crows album through the ad... will that get you anything additional?)

I'd rather hear a 5 second advert here or there than remember to shift-click all the time.
(this song segment brought to you by Diet Dr Pepper. Enjoy your listening experience)

So I guess this is the "You'll get over it" experience that all the big web2.0 sites appear to be "contributing" to their userbase? (See Fark.com)

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level 40
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 10 feb 08 12:54 p.m.
Wow! Hirari are/is my hero. Well said.

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level 36
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 10 feb 08 1:17 p.m.
@ Hidari:
I learned more about the metamorphosis of Radio and history of Hollywood reshoots in that 5 minutes than I have my whole life so far. Thanks for that :-)

As a point of fact, I purchased Hidari's albums directly from them, as an affect of finding them on this site. As a point, also, I found them while trolling the Browse>New section (and their hilarious posts on my and others' walls!)

I never thought that this site's purpose was solely Ad revenue. Sam and James have shown immensely more dedication to Artists and music lovers than people interested in a buck! Yet, popularizing a band detracts nothing from the music. Finding a good band, in fact, makes it fun and the points obtained from the popularity of those bands re-affirms the popularity (and quality) of the music of those bands.

Again, my point is choices. I have bumped the hell out of songs that will never be popular (in fact for two bands, of the 17 points they have received, 14 are from me!) and I have also bumped bands that have proven wildly successful. The choice should belong to the listener, and in the case of those comrades that I communicate with on this site, the intent of the music is clear.

New>Browse puts the new music up front and I can easily peruse the songs I missed on the rare occasion when I do actual work.

I implore Sam and James to reduce the controls in place and allow the site and its community to use the site as it suits them best. In fact, I would like to do away with the Mystery Song, Discovery Limit and high bump costs altogether. Let the music and the community decide. Already, a few community comrades and I have been discussing the possibility of an all-day music event with the artists from Thesixtyone.com. That's community in action, promoting music.

Sorry for the length of the post!


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level 8
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 10 feb 08 1:41 p.m.
I like this change a lot. I haven't been on this site for too long, but at first I was having a lot of fun just looking around finding music. After a while, I discovered the browse:newest option and it suddenly turned into an all-points, all the time game. Now it can go back to what pulled me in!

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level 21
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 10 feb 08 2:46 p.m.
@supergrover: we can't control that. we made an announcement post about this earlier this month. bottom line is that google adsense doesn't allow to control whether ads open new tabs or interrupt your experience, and we're experimenting with alternative solutions to help us potentially lessen our use of google ads. an early test was removing google ads and encouraging users to donate.

anyways, i think you'd find the announcement interesting and informative.

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level 17
Re: Tortillas and Chocolate Dip | 10 feb 08 9:43 p.m.
Wowza! That was quite the post. Anyhow, I would like to second the following suggestions...

• Links between artists (perhaps dynamically generated, preferably selected by the artists and/or listeners - ideally some combination of these)

Here's a more specific idea: allow higher-level users to feature a single song on a fourth homepage tab, perhaps called 'Recommended'.

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level 21
Re: "A Music Adventure." | 10 feb 08 10:48 p.m.
Disclaimer: I haven't read through all the posts so forgive me if this suggestion has already been made...

How about introducing a "new artist" tab that showcases artists as soon as they create a profile and upload their first tune? Seems like a reasonable compromise to me and would definitely give newcomers a fair shot at making a splash on thesixtyone.

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level 19
Re: "A Music Adventure!!!" | 11 feb 08 2 a.m.
I’m probably too late but here goes:

First like to say cool updates to the Rack I like how it gives you refunds and strangely seems to give you more then just +1 point sometimes (for listening to the rack and bumping stuff on it).

So I read all the posts since I made my little optimistic approval of the changes and I figured I should add on to the ever growing pile of opinions my own.

First I want to discuss some of the things people have been arguing. It seems to me that dissent sprouts from mostly two things or a combination of two and I'd like to separate them for clarification.

A: Wanting the game/competition aspect (AKA desire for points)
B: Being able to get quick access to the music (especially new or chronologically)

With A you have something that has gotten me a few times. I enjoy competition like anyone else and I often check the leader board for my favorite artist and myself on the listeners’ side. The addictive gaming/ competitive aspect of the new:browse was the huge reward you stood to gain from it. The idea of being rewarded for listening to a song brings back that adrenaline rush I had with the site when I first joined. Yet there’s crucial balance to this in that there is a game aspect to it and an enjoyment of music aspect. With the new:browse that balance began to blur are we playing a game? Or are we enjoying music? Anyone I know can tell you that there have been albums they bought that took more then one listen for them to get into it or really appreciate the music. If anything I think the goal of this site is to appreciate and enjoy music first enjoy the game second. You also have to ask what are points worth anyway? You get new abilities and have a greater influence on the music. Its based on the principle that you will be rewarded for your tastes in music. So what about the underrated songs? Some people are being faced with the reality that the type of music they like is not what everyone else likes. Your options are to try and get other people to like it or gasp enjoy the music you and a few others love. In this case the points don’t matter. For those who want the competition (or if you can come out and say it the points) I’m sure there will be entertaining fun ways to gain points in the future. No one has even mentioned the mysterious ‘games’ section that's been around forever.

With point B I totally agree that it is a bit of a concern. If we can all sustain are greed for points and realize that enjoyment of music is what people come here for then how people access that music is very important. I have to admit though, even with out the new:browse section you have such a nicer cleaner way to access music then so many other sites. I mean you get to listen to music without interruption of browsing! The new:browse thing was pretty much data being dumped onto a server that we can pick up as it comes in just like any news, blog, picture site etc. I really appreciate what James and Sam are doing by trying to create an experience where we go back in time and try to imagine are selves as our “baby boomer parents [who] spent those lazy sunday afternoons flipping through LPs at their local record shop.” Its not a vision everyone can agree with because we live in a world were we are force fed everything and information is injected through a syringe at the speed of light. I can see where someone may thing its backwards that we don’t have direct access to the stuff coming in but its suppose to be an experience, an adventure. Some people are busy too. For these reason not everyone can go off digging for buried treasure (or wants to) and so there has to be new avenues to get to the new music, which I think are coming.

I’m a one-year exchange student at a business and economics school in Japan and I come here not to focus on those things. Take the advertising, the marketability of a song, Artist revenue, the $$$ and just kick it out the window for a moment. It’s obvious that the creators of this site created this place out of a pure love for music and not investment returns. I also think the community here truly loves music as well and show it through these civilized discussions.

Also I’d like to follow suit by the new pagan god on the block, Hidari, and make some suggestion for improvements. I think what this post needs is more suggestions. I like what I've heard so far arguing for and against. This community rocks and I know people have cool ideas.

*How to get easier access to new music*

Crazy Idea 1: This one would probably take the most changes and programming but personalizing the rack so that every users got something different. Maybe even going a step farther say each user gets a set of songs for the day that are random with a few fresh new songs as well. Maybe even make it like a gum pack where you use your points to get like 5 random songs in your rack and 1 of the five is always a newly posted song.

Crazy Idea 2: Strengthen community that allows for quicker access to new material. This could be a new artist page. Making it easy for new artist to get recognition. Ways to improve connections between listeners and other listeners, listeners and artist. Making default pop ups editable so they pop when artist you know upload a song or a friend comments on something (don’t know if the server could handle that but..). Forums for newly found music? Have some way to get the word out to everyone.

Crazy Idea 3: Have genre of the day, week, where you get to see everything in a single genre in chronological order as its been added to the site for a limited amount of time. Doubt this one would work so well and sounds more like a crutch to the old system but its an idea none the least.

I get the feeling something new is coming as I type this so we’ll see.

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level 31
Re: "A Music Adventure!!!" | 11 feb 08 3:06 a.m.
I completely agree with all of that, zagudabuda. I especially like the image of lazy afternoons flipping through LPs. My favourtite record shop (Disque in Chapel Market, London) has sadly just closed down - it was the kind of shop where I'd spend a few hours in there and walk out with £50 worth of CDs of bands I'd previously not heard of. Anyway - thesixtyone.com has completely filled the void left by that shop - I've already discovered some great bands. With the demise of "chart" music, and pop having eaten itself, I truly believe that this is the future.

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level 44
Re: "A Music Adventure!!!" | 11 feb 08 5:08 a.m.
I'm done with opinion for now, but I had another suggestion, one that works hand in hand with the previous idea of giving higher level listeners a greater time delay before bumping a song. It's similar to, but not exactly the same as a "New Artist" tab on the front page.

Listeners all have the "Subscription" box on their profile pages, and we get all the notices of "xxx band posted yyy song" z minutes ago.

Make a page which only showed those announcements, like a global subscription page, but link the announcements to the artist's profile page, not the individual newly uploaded song. This is like a sign in the record store saying "New Jimi Hendrix Album" and sign pointing you to the right place in the racks, but not a big display of JH right there at the door.

I see this as 1) Giving a place where anyone can see who put up something new - but not exactly what it was. 2) allowing new artists and established ones equal announcement time. 3) Channeling listeners to the full catalog of a given artist's songs instead of immediately cherry-picking the newest - also giving the higher level users something to do while they wait to bump the new song.

Anyway, just a thought. Regardless of how, a front page tab somehow linked to the newest music really sounds like a right idea for me.

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level 37
Re: "A Music Adventure!!!" | 11 feb 08 5:58 a.m.
I'm still not finding it easy to find the new stuff.

Browse on "0"... page through the 3-5 pages of stuff that I've already looked at / heard and didn't care to try.
Browse on "1-5" and page through the pages of... oh, same stuff.

Remove the gaming aspect from my disatisfaction (although it's an important part of what I found addictive about this site vs other music sites) and it's still just tough to no longer be able to find new songs as they come in. Even if we weren't allowed to bump "for profit", it was still awesome to be able to listen to new tracks... if I didn't like it "next!", if I did... I'd bump or relisten or add or (whatever positive benefit of enjoyment).

--- still harping for a way to buy an album through the site. Already bought two because of this site. I disprefer buying individual mp3s.

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level 37
Re: Tortillas and Chocolate Dip | 11 feb 08 6:10 a.m.
I've already posted my thoughts on the changes made, but this post was just way too good not to comment on.
Hidari, you are my new heroes. Not just for your eloquent take on the changes, nor for your excellent ideas and suggestions. No, you've won a fan because you name-checked one of my favourite Smashing Pumpkins songs ever. Porcelina of the Vast Ocean rocks!

//Fanboy gushing over.

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level 11
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 11 feb 08 9:27 a.m.
100% agree with Mattynabib. The browse:newest section was always the most fun part for me. I'd sit and listen for hours to the new music coming in. I don't have a lot of time to sit and dig for music--I preferred to let it passively move by and if something struck my attention I'd go and dig deeper into it specifically.

I also agree that this could be a problem for new bands. Forcing people into using the Home:New section only shows people music that others think is good. It doesn't give users an easy avenue to discover music on their own. That ease was one of the things that attracted me to the61 in the first place. While I'll still use the 61, I can pretty much guarantee that it won't be as much as before...

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level 37
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 11 feb 08 10:18 a.m.
^^^^ (dburras) ^^^^
I've bumped plenty that other people either thought sucked or at least didn't think enough of to bump themselves.

\kudos to Ray for the Scramble and helping some of those same artists be refound. A couple made the front page today.

\\fingers crossed for Marconi's Radio.

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level 32
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 11 feb 08 11:37 a.m.
Personally I don't mind the removal of browse->newest (it is a bummer though) as much as the fact that I cannot bump songs that are currently playing from the header as well as being able to somehow mark a song to never be played again. One can do this from the rack but not while listing to any other area of the site.

I think that being able to 'personally punt' a song would clear up a lot of listeners problems sifting through songs. This would not affect anyone else's listening experience.

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level 37
Re: "A Music Adventure?" | 11 feb 08 11:44 a.m.
Agreed, The Rack is *much* improved, both in implementation and in the quality of material. Maybe I'm just imagining the latter, but there seems to be a lot less crap on there now. Nice job guys.

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