On the magnatune home page (http://magnatune.com) you will now find a new 3rd column of choices.
The four choices in this new column are:
The "podcast" and "browse" choices are totally new features.
There are 45 different podcasts, ranging from different moods (wake-up, relaxing) to genres (rock, classical) to niche (Intense Metal, Indian Classical), with a new episode for each appearing once a week. You can listen to them to each podcast as an mp3 stream (playing immediately to your computer), or subscribe to them with a program such as iTunes
. We'll be submitting these podcasts to the various directories, and once iTunes accepts them, we'll also have a subscribe-to-podcast-in-itunes link.
The podcasts have a short (13 second) spoken intro and an ending spoken credit, but otherwise are talk-free, for an hour of uninterrupted music.
I've been listening to these podcasts all week, and I'm really enjoying this different way of exploring the magnatune collection. In the details for each podcast, the start time of each song is given, so it's easy to find what is currently playing.
The songs in the podcasts have all had their volumes adjusted to be similar, silence at the end and beginning has been trimmed, and the songs cross-fade at the last second into each other, so there are no silent gaps. This makes, I've found, for a more pleasant experience than listening to the .m3u playlists, taht don't do these things.
This is meant to be a fast way to move around the Magnatune music library and pick things to listen to. The interface is stripped to the bare minimum, so that the pages load quickly and there's no visual clutter.
I really like how iTunes organizes music by genre/artist/album/songs, and wanted to do something similar. I'm also showing the album art (under the selected album text) and links back to the full artist's page.
My hope is that many of you will bookmark this "Browse" page, and simply use it as your music library, slowly building up familiarity with Magnatune's music and discovering music you love.
I'm not entirely happy with how the album art and additional links are integrated, in under the list of albums, but it was the best solution I could come up with. Initially, I had the songs appearing in their own cell at the bottom, spanning the width of the page, like iTunes does. But, this seemed like a waste of space as there isn't much data to display about each song, as iTunes uses that space to repeat the artist/album/genre info that is already above anyway.
Unlike iTunes, if an album spans more than one genre, (ie, Artemis is in electronica and rock) it *will* appear in both.
I did not use HTML frames to do this, because I wanted each page to be fully book-markable, so that if you find an album you like, you can bookmark and come back to it easily, as well, as give it to your friends.
A future use of this "Browse music" function will be to allow magnatune subscribers an easily way to play the commercial-free music they're paying for access to. That's what I'm working on next.
Make your own skin
If you're graphically inclined, I'd love to see some alternative "skins" for this page.
This file: browse_skin.html is the template for this page, and should be self-explanatory. To make a "skin", just change the HTML table to use your graphics and colors. Send me an email if you've made one up you want me to look at.
Now that "collections" and "best-sellers" have a highly visible link on the home page, I removed the tiny text links they had on the bottom left of the home page. That cleared up some space at the bottom left, so I moved the less-interesting items that were on the top left (links for reviewers & podcasters, give 3 copies away & recruiting cards) and moved them to the bottom left. That leaves just 3 important thing on the top left space (licensing & missing & why-we-are-not-evil), which is better, as those are important and need to be visible.