playlistnow.fm

29 Sep

I just read about the launch of a new music-related start-up called playlistnow.fm and decided to give it a whirl.

None of my friends are apparently on it yet, so I can’t vouch for its social features, but it’s supposed to help you find new music through discovering other people’s playlists. This is in theory good idea, but it hinges on what the incentives to create and share a playlist are. I didn’t find any in this case. I’ve been thinking about music discovery a lot lately, because I’m in somewhat of a music slump and because I have a weak spot for awesome party playlists so perhaps I will post my own thoughts on that soon.

But back to playlistnow.fm. My review is not entirely positive, perhaps because a terrible song just came on while I’m trying it out, but I’m intrigued.

Using the search bar on the homepage I somehow stumbled upon the “Chilling in the garden” playlist, which I chose to check out, since I’m doing the exact opposite – sitting in an office on a very cold day.

So what are my next available actions? I can listen to the playlist, of course. Three other prominent features jump out as well – I can add songs to the playlist (though it doesn’t show who added which song, which would be a neat feature), or share it with friends, or update my status with “I’m chilling in the garden”. I hit the “update status” button, which takes me away from the playlist and to my profile. Usability fail.

I went back to the playlist to finish checking it out. There is a whole bunch of bad songs on this playlist, but that is besides the point. The bigger problem is that there’s no apparent relation or order between them. Since I don’t know who added them there and when, this makes it confusing and allienating. Also, the site just froze.

After a deep breath, I refreshed the site and returned to the home page. I clicked on the “I’m in a french mood” playlist because it was the first link in my feed. In order to check out the “add song” feature, I decided to add a song by St. Germaine to the list. I clicked on “add song”, a search bar popped up underneath the button (neat execution but the overload of purple and low contrast between background and action buttons make it kind of a pain to look at or use), and I searched for “st. germaine”. About a 100 results for songs returned, all seem to be french, but not a single one of them St. Germaine. Perhaps they don’t have any of their music in their library, but given that some of the search results were youtube videos, I’m tempted to assume that they are searching all of youtube not just some strange undefined subset.

So anyways, I clicked on a Serge Gainsbourg search result instead. Something started playing, but at this point I have no idea if I’m looking at the search results, the French playlist, or something else, or whether the song I clicked on was added. I clicked on another song. No change.

With a weird French song still playing, I decided to give the site one more swirl. I typed “I’m pissed off” into the search box and hit enter. Nothing. I clicked the “search now” button just in case enter doesn’t work on this heavily flash-y site. Still nothing. Several seconds later (after I wrote the first part of this paragraph) I see some results for playlists that match my search. Weird French song still playing. I click on the “Pissed off” playlist. Weird french song still playing until I finally click on a small play button next to the title of the playlist.

OK, at this point I’m a grumpy user and I’m on the site only because I’m trying to review it. I would have left a long time ago otherwise, mostly because of the serious site performance issues, off-putting color scheme, and dead-end user path bugs. I haven’t even gotten to describing the plethora of other actions you can take on each page, which may or may not work, but either way add to the overwhelming user experience. This site is a classic example of a glossy design gone wrong and lack of serious consideration for information architecture and functional user experience.

Now I just really want to listen to the Rage Against the Machine song on the Pissed Off playlist but it’s been several minutes and it’s still not playing. In frustration, I go find it on youtube.

That said, it’s a nice idea 🙂

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