Oct 26

Rather than simply looking at my website concept at face value, I figured I would take a deeper look at what I would be trying to provide for users. An age old exercise in advertising, an example would be that the ready-made cookie company is not simply selling chilled cookie mix, but rather the feeling of family and togetherness that one experiences while baking cookies. Essentially, one is selling (or providing) to satisfy a person’s needs (in the aforementioned example, a need to feel closer to one’s friends/family) and not just a product or service. With this in mind, it becomes necessary to look deeper into what users want and expect and focus less on the micro scale of things, for websites being the detailed content itself.

Considering what I would want to provide creating a website such as this, I realized that essentially, my aim is to instill a sense of community back into music. In a sense devolving from what our musical tendencies have become, the website would remove users from the sheltered environment of their MP3 player and expose them to the interests and tastes of others. With the architecture of a social community built in, surely this process would start with one’s immediate circle of friends, but ideally would branch out from there through various degrees of separation and allow a greater number of people to appreciate a greater variety of music. Inevitably, my hope would be for the website to broaden the musical horizons of the users, if even incrementally.

While social interaction would certainly be the driving force behind the success of the website, its finest element would seek to spread the knowledge and appreciation of different styles and genres of music.  With multiple sites driving toward this end (if even unintentionally) I chose three that would likely most approximate the function:

  • Pandora – The ever-popular Pandora is the ultimate in automated music suggestion (done right, according to some).  Leveraging the Music Genome Project, the website creates what is essentially a customized “radio station,” playing songs similar in style or structure to an initially queried song or artist.  While an excellent service for discovering new music similar to one’s currently-held tastes, the site makes no effort to attempt to nudge users to try new music (which it is not expected to, clearly aiming to recommend similarities).
  • Last.fm – Taking a similar approach to Pandora, Last.fm uses a plug-in installed on the users computer to capture what songs are played.  Aggregrating this information over time, the website uses it to generate suggestions for, again, similar music.  The site also makes an attempt to compare the listening habits of users to other users and make suggestions for like-minded listeners.  The feature often dissuading new users is the presence the website takes on their computer with the plug-in.
  • TwonesStill in beta at this point, Twones takes more of a macro approach and attempts to take services like Pandora and catalog the user’s listening habits, online instead of off the desktop like Last.fm (incidentally, I was mispronouncing the name of the website until seeing their banner, “One.  Two.  Twones.”  In an age where branding is more important than ever, they might have considered a more definitive name).  The site takes a user’s preferences over a variety of online music streaming services and allows them to share with friends via Twitter or a number of other methods.

Where I see my site concept differentiating is the human element and the presence of a continuous, uninterrupted conversation.  As the makers of Pandora attest, people will be the best judges of musical worth for the foreseeable future (as opposed to complex algorithms), taking certain intangibles of music into consideration.  My site would allow them to discuss and share down to the finite details (such as in my aforementioned example, going beyond discussing Led Zeppelin and discussing Robert Plant’s singing personally).  This information, however, would be linked between all the different points of discussion (artists, albums, concerts, etc.) allowing a user to set out seeking certain information and perhaps landing elsewhere to be pleasantly surprised by the results.  Essentially, the site would strive to make music recommendations more socially-driven, but still allow for intricate technological solutions (such as those found at Pandora).

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