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December 26, 2011

Comments

Michael Norrish

Definitely like the new look of the player. The cartoon you has too many teeth! I think it's a move in the right direction though.

Daniel Clements

You may already be aware of this, but navigation of the "Members" features has always left a little bit to be desired. After clicking the "Members" main menu, all those choices (Favourites, Downloads, Recommendations, etc.) should remain accessible, in a sub menu, that is always visible while viewing any of the member feature pages. It would be nice to see this as part of a new-and-improved design.

The new front page design looks good to me, and accessible. The audio player mock-up seems like it will be excellent.

owlness

Definitely liking the notion of an all-in-one web app player. Drilling in and out of individual album pages gets kind of tedious for casual browsing. I feel there is opportunity to display more metadata directly inline, though.

What is the scope of the rating feature? Is it just for personal reference, or will it eventually be used to feed stronger recommendations?

Anon

John,

Glad to hear the Magnatune site is getting a makeover; thanks for sharing a sneak peak with us. I'm a big fan of the "Hot right now" list; I'm glad to see that it's staying.

As a lifetime member I would love to see more user-specific functionality built in to the site, like:

* listening history
* play counts (by album/artist/song)
* last played date
* custom playlists
* gmail-esque custom "labels" (which combine folders/tags/categories)
* last.fm scrobbling

Features like these would personalize the experience more for each user and make it easier to identify new artists one hasn't listened to yet or those which one end up listening to over and over again without necessarily realizing it.

Thanks!

Daniel

New design looks good but the yellow is really offputting. Maybe you could desaturate it or if you do need to use a bright 'primary colour' try switching it for something which isn't so blinding!

J.B. Nicholson-Owens

A few thoughts:

- Will anything autoplay? If so, members should be able to disable autoplay for themselves.

- Please test with Gnash, the free software Flash player, as well.

- HTTPS for member logins to the site?

- Would it be good to let users import/export an RSS feed or an XSPF playlist of their favorite tracks?

- Maybe it should be easier to let users indicate to one another that if you like artist X you might also like artists A, B, and C. Or do the same thing with tracks. I understand you do this with your custom mixes, but what if a listener wanted to do this by editing playlists stored on your site which they update as new music comes out?

- If you're going to store state for a user, you should consider letting them purge that state upon request (i.e., click a button and confirm, not email an admin).

- Aesthetically, I'm not a fan of the color scheme nor the manic look of the figure. But this strikes me chiefly as a matter of taste; I'm content to go along with whatever is chosen.

John Buckman

Here are my replies to the first 5 comments:

After clicking the "Members" main menu, all those choices (Favourites, Downloads, Recommendations, etc.) should remain accessible, in a sub menu, that is always visible while viewing any of the member feature pages. It would be nice to see this as part of a new-and-improved design.

Yes, that's how the new audio player works. Those categories (favorites, ratings, etc) remain in the left-most column, as you can see in the screen picture.


Definitely liking the notion of an all-in-one web app player. Drilling in and out of individual album pages gets kind of tedious for casual browsing. I feel there is opportunity to display more metadata directly inline, though.

With the new design, there are show/hide buttons next to each type of "metadata", so that (with javascript magic) the artist's bio, or recommendations, or downloads, can appear/disappear on while you're listening to music, and don't cause the page to reload. Much, much faster to use, and it means that the info you don't need to see remains out of the way, until you choose to "show" it.


What is the scope of the rating feature? Is it just for personal reference, or will it eventually be used to feed stronger recommendations?

Currently, it is just there for you to organize the music into groups, based on how much you like (or dislike) the song or album. It could be use for stronger recommendations, that's a good idea!


As a lifetime member I would love to see more user-specific functionality built in to the site, like:
* listening history

I like the idea of a history tab, thanks for suggesting it!


* play counts (by album/artist/song)
* last played date

Probably, this would go into a listening history page.


* custom playlists

This currently exists in the new audio player -- there are both personal and shared playlists.


* gmail-esque custom "labels" (which combine folders/tags/categories)

Currently, I'm doing that with playlists (ie, the playlists do double duty as both something that can play a collection of music, but also as a label for the music)


* last.fm scrobbling

I was under the impression that last.fm was crashing & burning, as the founders have all exited, CBS has lost interest, and the new wave of music web sites have come in.


Features like these would personalize the experience more for each user and make it easier to identify new artists one hasn't listened to yet or those which one end up listening to over and over again without necessarily realizing it.

hm... I don't think there's a "new artists" page there yet, I could add that.


New design looks good but the yellow is really offputting. Maybe you could desaturate it or if you do need to use a bright 'primary colour' try switching it for something which isn't so blinding!

I agree that the Yellow is "way out there" but others have said they really love it. I'm going to wait and see what others say about it…


- Will anything autoplay? If so, members should be able to disable autoplay for themselves.

Autoplay is by default, on. But, the little speaker icon on the right side disables autoplay permanently for your login.


- Please test with Gnash, the free software Flash player, as well.

The audio player works completely without Flash, and is tested on the iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry and Nokia devices. With Flash disabled on Linux, it works fine.

However, we didn't write our own Flash player, we're using the Apache Projects' Flash player. If Gnash works with it, great. If not, we don't have the resources to figure out why and to work around it.


- HTTPS for member logins to the site?

Unlikely, as sending high audio quality mp3 streams over HTTPS would be heavy, heavy on both our servers and on the receiving end.


- Would it be good to let users import/export an RSS feed or an XSPF playlist of their favorite tracks?

Yes, good idea.


- Maybe it should be easier to let users indicate to one another that if you like artist X you might also like artists A, B, and C. Or do the same thing with tracks. I understand you do this with your custom mixes, but what if a listener wanted to do this by editing playlists stored on your site which they update as new music comes out?

You can, in the current audio player, copy one of our playlists into your own personal playlists, and then modify it. Will that do what you need?


- If you're going to store state for a user, you should consider letting them purge that state upon request (i.e., click a button and confirm, not email an admin).

Ok.


- Aesthetically, I'm not a fan of the color scheme nor the manic look of the figure. But this strikes me chiefly as a matter of taste; I'm content to go along with whatever is chosen.

Ok!

Nicholas

I like the figure, but maybe the eyes could be made a little more normal. I think the homepage aesthetic is great; it has a lot of style and spirit. I don't feel the same way about the music player. I'd be more in favor of directory style links at the top, for example,

Hot Artists > Alt Rock > Chad Farran > Another Ride

I think the album which is being played should be the front-and-center content of the page. Sure, it's not exactly YouTube, where you're constantly watching, but it should have play/pause/stop/playlist info, since that's what the user is currently interacting with. Links for faster browsing between albums could be right underneath -- not inconvenient, but not the main page content.

Just to point out some particular aesthetic differences, look at the fonts (fontsquirrel.com is a super-useful and easy tool for web developers), **number of boxes**, etc. in the player, versus the main page redesign you are proposing. In general, fewer boxes is better style; the player aesthetic looks like 1990s, regardless of it being used by Apple's OS X finder. Also, consider that computer monitors generally have higher resolution than they did a decade ago. One consequential decision might be to stay away from 10 pt Ariel, and go for something that looks like the Windows Phone or Android fonts (some of which are free at fontsquirrel) at 14 pt. There are some thin fonts available if you don't want it to look bold. I'd also consider line spacing as well; a little more line spacing is easier to read, and generally looks better (for example, in the playlist).

Describing music in words might be akin to calling olive oil "fruity", "fresh" (like cut grass), or "peppery". But, you already use tags like "cinematic", "warm", "melodic", "experimental", etc. -- finding a way to put these notions in a tag / gmail label format (as another user suggested) might be useful.

Hope it helps!

Nicholas

Just a minor comment; I have a wget script that I like, which downloads an album into ~/Music/magnatune, and also downloads the cover. It's not a big deal, but I'd appreciate it if any new login system didn't break this.

mrbarletta

Great Love the looks!

My suggestions
* lovely Yellow :)
* Login - remember me option ?
* Add Lyrics links - lyricwiki.org
* Facebook/Social Share: Album - Song
** Facebook Send link - I usually receive/send specific songs to a specific friend/friends with a note, and be able to play it from within facebook and link back to magnatune.

keep it going its a great service :)

PS: What happened with the no propaganda for the first 20 minutes test? i am curious how it went :)

Mark Stosberg

I look forward to the new design.

The new pop-out player should work as it's own "web app"... perhaps on it's own subdomain. Some use-cases:

- In Chrome, you should be able to use the feature to "Create Application Shortcut" and give the player it's own icon and desktop launcher.
- There should be an entry in the Chrome Store for the "web app", as another way to "install" the player as a standalone application.

Oh, and improving Android support would be great too. The songs don't play directly on the mobile site.. I have to launch a music player individually for each song. A mobile version of the new player would be ideal.

Ian Zimmerman

Hi. I am glad to hear that the audio player doesn't require Flash,
because I don't use Flash at all (no Flash plugin is even installed).

However, I actually almost never play directly from the Web, I just
download whole albums and play on my desktop. From what I understand
this mode of operation will not require Flash either, is that correct?
I hope so, a Flash dependency would be a kind of dealbreaker for me.

Other than that, the one feature I like on the present site is that each
album page links to other albums by the same artist. Let's keep that
feature please.

Thanks for all the work and for not being evil ;-)

John Buckman
    However, I actually almost never play directly from the Web, I just
download whole albums and play on my desktop. From what I understand
this mode of operation will not require Flash either, is that correct?
I hope so, a Flash dependency would be a kind of dealbreaker for me.
The audio player page is completely flash-free, except for the player on the far right, which defaults to Flash. There is a javascript in there that checks to see if Flash is not available, in which case it falls back to an html5 audio tag, if that works, or an embed otherwise.

In practice, the player just seems to "do the right thing" and even ie6 without Flash works with it, as does the iPad and Android.

Note that the new player also lets you choose to have "high quality" streaming, which sends VBR-HIGH mp3 files to you, instead of streaming 128k mp3 files. I personally find it a huge improvement.

And of course, you'll be able to download albums from Magnatune. You'll need basic javascript, so that the "show" button on the page works, but every browser since (and including) ie6 does that, and I've tested them.

    Other than that, the one feature I like on the present site is that each
album page links to other albums by the same artist. Let's keep that
feature please.
There is a "Recommended" line you can see in the audio player, which shows the covers of 12 recommended albums, similar to the one you're currently looking at.

-john

Wyzard

The yellow background may be a little too bright, but it's not bad. However, I'm not a fan of the font: it makes the page look like it's aimed at children, and it's not easy to read. It's OK for the logo and slogan, but I'd recommend using a more conventional font for the text to the right of the blue guy.

anon

I can't wait to try out the new player. Looks cool to me. Do members get to beta test it?

datagod

I love the new motto. I love the old motto as well, but I bet it is lost on a lot of the younger crowd who don't get the reference to the big evil record labels. I am looking forward to the new site.

My suggestion: perhaps incorporate some sort of social aspect? "like" a song, comments, etc?

graham

1. Yellow much too bright or simply wrong colour.

2. Dont like cartoon character - too childish.

3. Agree font is not good aim for readabilty
for older folk who wear glasses and also consider
colour blind folk.

4. Otherwise concept is good and generally due for a revamp!

5. Consider also testing with someone with minimal pc experience
so that they can navigate site without getting complete bamboozled or lost.


6. Keep up the good work! : )

Judd Rogers

1) One thing I've always liked about Magnatune is you support your artists.
The whole 'we are not evil' vibe was about giving the artists a reasonable share of the price of the albums.

That is less obvious now with the unlimited down loads and such. But the ethos seemed to always be there.

'Crazy about music' does not convey that ethos.

2) How do you plan to help members find music they might like? You might be able to mine the user play lists to infer relationships amoungst albums deeper than the genre tags.

3) The fonts you show are all hand drawn. They may not make for easy parsing at mobile device resolutions.

Glad you are working out the new design with the members!!

Gordon Rosenberg

After reading all the suggestions, I look forward to a new design and features, new is good! The yellow color scheme is not my favorite and I agree with a couple others that both the nature of the cartoon character and the font make the site appear rather childish. Perhaps a compromise someplace between those "MBA" designs and overly cartoonish. But whatever you decide I will make it work for me. Thanks for asking us.

Johan Nilsson

I think it's great and I love the cartoon! Keep it!
I would also, like somebody else is pointing ut, have some sort of "history section", where you can see which albums are the most listened to/downloaded over a period if time. i.e. Last Month and last year. (And why not "of all time"?) Of course as a complement to "what's hot right now" and the 24h update.

Great that magnatune is moving forward! Keep up the good work

/Johan

Àngel Rúa

Hi there!

I'm happy with Magnatune. I have been a member for years and I love It. For me this new pre-design is cool, but the most important things are especially two:

*Please, stick with GNU/Linux compatibility.
*Please, please, please, don't ever get evil!

Thanks for magnatuning the web!

-Àngel

Christophe Dupriez

Hi John!

As a Catalog, I rather like the current interface and you could look at it in an "incremental" way (to not destroy what works!).

As an On-Line Personal Music Manager (listening log for instance, shared or not), I think there is a lot to do and a competitive advantage to gain. A Social dimension (Facebook tags in HTML headers to make tracks liked and well referenced, etc.) would be good for frequentation.

You may remember a message I sent you long ago about file naming: when you put a lot of files in a "basic" MP3 player, they are sorted by file name but the name should be a contraction of Artist-Album-Track number (in 8 letters/digits or less) and then the track title.

Keep on the good work! Christophe

John Jackson

Hi John

Overall a big improvement but... (there's always a but from a web designer...)

I agree with wizard about the font particularly in the logo - would definitely go for something more slick. I also agree about the yellow - have you tried some colour ways with this design? Yellow to me is too insipid even though it's loud - and a bit of a turnoff - I like the new kind of Dr Zeuss ish you though...

Also - the new approach to the player is a smart move I think - thumbs up from me on that.

Finally - not crazy about the strapline. to me it doesn't convey all that magnatune is - ie an outlet for musicians as well as fans of music - this could well be the strapline for just another spotify / napster / streaming music service and doesn't convey the unique nature of the catalogue AND the fact that you treat musicians with the respect they deserve (which was conveyed quite well by the evil slogan)...

Otherwise - I look forward to seeing this develop more!

All the best - be great to try and catch up if you're still in London at some point...

John

Esme

That particular illustration and colour scheme? I would find it off-putting if I'd not heard of Magnatune before it looks as if the site is superficially trying to be zany. I've nothing against a cartoony style, if that's what you wish, but I'd suggest a warmer colour scheme, at least. I don't really like the cartoon, though, and I'm not fond of the font in the upper part, although I don't loathe it either. But the light blue carton figure on the yellow background looks insipid and doesn't look interesting. (note that the shades of blue and yellow used can make a difference)

As for the 'we are not evil' slogan - I think it'd be a mistake to lose it. Google have abused theirs, Magnatune has not, and it's the ethos that means so much to both your artists and customers. You can always have a mention that you had the slogan before Google in a wee section on the history of Magnatune.

Josef Wainz

I like the new player layout. Playlists are great. The yellow is growing on me. Magnatune may not be evil, but the the blue cat does not give me warm fuzzies.

SJZ

John,
The working mockup choice will be "cute" for about 3 logins. Please, we are a more discerning crowd than most services and have come to Magnatune for that reason. Be creative but elegant, "with it" but not "without" maturity, a real alternative not owned by pop culture! The best bet is a working tool that helps us really get at the good music in many different ways. You're not a game site!

Anne Wilson

Mostly a repetition of what others have said, but....

The combination of zany and vomit-yellow would have put me off Magnatune if I hadn't known it before. The music you offer suits a very wide variety of people - older or more conservative people might react badly.

The more convenient links to additional information - cover, sleeve notes, more from this artist etc - are very welcome.

Overall, I think there are some good ideas here, but above all, I feel strongly that the last two posters hit the right note for me - getting across the special relationship with artists is so very important. Please try to give better emphasis to this.

José

Dear John

I love Magnatune & what you do, & I love the range of music available.
Also really appreciate what you do for the artists.
Don't lose this. And don't be shy about 'not being evil.'

Yes, progress asks development, and no-one is keener to get all the new stuff than web designers.(guilty.)
I'm all for brightening and tightening, but seasoned with a good pinch of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

Re visuals: (from a photographer/web designer)- I do not find the design appealing & it does not express Magnatune to me.

Agree with datagod, Chris Dupriez, John Jackson, John Buckman.et al
- the cartoon is too much 'in your face'
- colours are bland
- overall impact is insipid
- font is child-ish

Classical Music is a strong option on Magnatune. The design may discourage entry from a (large) percentage of the generationally enhanced, and those who are not into x-box and hip hop.


Scott Williams

Hi John,

As an advocate for the disabled, I strongly urge you to make your site accessible to those with vision and mobility impairments. Stevie Wonder should be able to access your site, no? At the end of this calendar year, there will be new federal regulations published stipulating that business must make their websites fully accessible. This is a great opportunity for you to implement accessibility from the get-go instead of retrofitting your site, which is very expensive.

All the best,

Scott Williams
Web Accessibility Coordinator
University of Michigan

Spike Page

I want to add to my comments yesterday with a bit of positive feedback and another suggestion or two.

I am glad to see the new design will be more friendly to a widescreen monitor. The present site's homepage requires a bit of scrolling to get to the news and new music area of content.

Also (and this might take a bit of extra codemonkeying), I'd love to see member profiles expanded a bit more to include (if members opt in) ages, locations, favourite artists, short bio..that sort of thing. Maybe even add a web forum to the site. At present the only real way to find fellow Magnatune members or listeners is by chance encounter on Facebook or elsewhere. A stronger local community of Magnatune listeners could be helpful not only in getting feedback for your site, but in getting feedback for your musicians.

Andrew Conway

>1) the illustration and color scheme is a bit "out there"...
>
I'd be fine with it, but then I am a function over form sort-of-a-guy.

>2) the messaging is much shorter...
>
Good idea - works well.

>3) a new slogan has replaced "We are not evil"...
>
I think that's right, but "crazy about music" is, well, rather bland. I'd go for the fairness angle - I like the fair-trade comparison. Just throwing one out there: "Bringing music lovers and musicians together"?

>4) all the information ... moved to the "grey section"...
>
Spot on!

>And here is a working mockup of our audio player...
>
Hmmm. I don't like iTunes and when I come to Magnatune I want to be far away from the iTunes world as possible! Usually I want to search magnatune (and I use amarok to do that), so this drilling approach would get in my way. A tree+search approach would be my ideal.

Thanks for letting us see what you're planning and taking feedback!

Andrew

Urban Response

I usually don't like cartoons, but this one I like. I don't even mind the yellow either, it certainly makes it jump out.

Look forward to the new site and improved navigation, the old one has been left for far too long.

And as an artist I want to say thanks for all the great work and support guys!

Stef

I am confused by the checkbox styling of the "Click to Listen" list. Checkboxes are associated with choosing more than one item. So can I check multiple items and listen to a playlist with all those styles mixed in? Or do I click just one button and go to a list of that type of music (as with the current site)? If it's the latter, I think the buttons should be a different shape.

The cartoony illustration doesn't match my idea of what kind of music I like to get on Magnatune. And I don't like yellow. But it's an improvement over the current home page; I HATE white text on a dark background.

The login box on the current site doesn't work with 1Password's "auto fill" feature, and it's the only site I visit that doesn't. I'd love for any redesign to fix this problem.

The new player layout looks good.

Dr. Sounds

Don't want to make any offence but it feels like the colors is a bit of odd, and the design feels far away from modern still though. Yellow is not the color I like on the web in this manner.

Lindsey

I have to admit, the "We are not evil" slogan is what made me stay and look around on Magnatune's site 4 years ago. I chuckled and wondered why you weren't evil, hung out, read about it, and now have a membership. I think the old slogan is honest and witty and gives an accurate description of what the company is. And if people do feel like its being stolen from Google, well screw them. It could seem like call and response, Google: "Dont be evil", Magnatune: "We are not evil". I've never heard of this campaign from Google and I use them as a search engine exclusively.

The blue cat is a little weird, but I like that its from an old picture of you. Maybe you could post your picture next to the cat's. The yellow seems to be a bit bright. I like how everything will be on one page, but maybe keep working on the illustration.

Lookfar

Hi!

The mascot does not look friendly please soften it up a little bit.
Since a lot of us are not that much into computers, the option of having the traditional layout will be very helpful, please please please keep that!!!
As a lot of other people has noted, The new motto does not convey the " we are no evil" ethos.
I tell everybody about magnatune, they particularly like the idea that the artist gets a fair deal, the motto should suggest that.

A magnatune addict from Spain.

demandfosslossless (prev abushcrafter)

I like the look of the new home page. Do mention OGG + Vorbis and FLAC on the home page and your none evilness,ethics,niceness,etc

I demand OGG + Vorbis for the HTML5 player. Links to album/artist info please and the a option to display info in the player webpage.

Please provide OGG + Vorbis Q3 and perhaps Q6 or Q5 and FLAC XSPF play-lists and feeds (maybe Atom?) with different ones that are organised in different ways. EG date, popular, a-z. So I not need a special bit of software like a plug-in to access your music. I also want special play-lists and feeds for things like new releases, song of today, pushed/recommended, etc.

Include art work in the feeds. In PNG or lossless WebP if your being cutting edge.
http://code.google.com/speed/webp/

A archive format to use for compressed archives is XZ and for no compression TAR or XEV (Maybe for compression too?). Currently your FLAC zip archives are bigger than the source flacs!
http://code.google.com/p/xar/wiki/whyxar
http://tukaani.org/xz/format.html

For download links please use MetaLinks.
http://www.metalinker.org/

Please also make you music available though Tribler. This would make for a very nice way of doing streaming btw.
http://www.tribler.org

I use the strong wording to indicate how important this things are to me.

Thanks, a new member.

Jörg Sonnenberger

HTTPS login would definitely be a huge step forward. It doesn't have to use HTTPS for everything, but there are a lot of environments where I don't want a clear text password flying around. Using a session cookie and invalidating the old cookie on new logins would be fine and shouldn't add any significant load on the site?

Philip White

John, I already emailed you with this suggestion, but I thought I'd write it up again here.

I'd love a feature where I, as a paying member, can get a link to a specific song so it's easy to share it on social media. Then if I am listening to a song I think others will love, I could just shoot them the link without having to include instructions like "be sure to skip to track 12".

If the free site still has the audible watermarking on songs (as it did about a year ago), it would be nice if a paying member could generate a short-lived link without the watermarking. The link could be active for, say, a week -- enough to fall off the radar on a social media site.

UglyDuck

I actually smiled as soon as I saw the new scheme, it's immediately appealing to me. I love the slightly insane art style.

I see people complaining about the yellow, which is really disappointing since I think it's fantastic. So few websites have bright, bold designs like that.

I like the "we are not evil" slogan and it would be a shame to see it go, especially since it's one of the more human aspects to the site. Something about that phrase brings you back down to reality; that there are people at every step and it isn't just a faceless automated service. "Crazy about music" sounds like you want to appeal to me.

I'm not so keen on the audio player if only because it looks like photoshop with the weak shadow and emboss effects and the logo is quite generic.

Other than that, it looks superb.

Niels

Sorry I'm late to the commenting party. Great idea about the re-write. Just my $.02 about some of the considerations on the table:

The slogan is obviously all about messaging and the question: what's Magnatune's brand and most important message?

"We're not evil" is at least as much a statement about Magnatune's relationship with music makers as much as it is a statement about it's relationship with listeners and the subset that become paying Magnatune members. I think the "why I founded Magnatune" story is at the core and supports that message very well. Paying Magatune members vote with their wallets not only for their own relationship with Magnatune, but (possibly even more so?) they cast a vote with their wallets for a non evil relationship with music makers.

In contrast - being crazy about music is arguably not a relationship with other humans, but a relationship with this abstract thing called music. Once I take the people out of the relationship, why would I care about them? Why would I care to part with any money? So I think the messaging in the old tagline is much more powerful than the proposed new messaging.

So I really wonder if "crazy" works for you or your customers. Magnatune is exactly the opposite of crazy. While the love for music is deeply emotional for both music makers and listeners, Magnatune arguably represents much more an "oasis of sanity" in a world that's going nuts around us. Magnatune is a rational middle ground between unbridled corporate greed and a consumer entitlement everything free damn the consequences mentality.

Everything else branding related, including logo, other images, fonts, colors should be consistent with the main messaging. And as a result, I think that the figure communicates something entirely different than what I think Magnatune is all about.

Bottom line: If you think that more people (music makers AND listeners, since you need quality and numbers of both) will sign up for a crazy thing rather than a sane relationship, then go for the crazy theme. Otherwise you may want to reconsider the messaging and resulting branding.

Big

I'm with Graham and John on the slogan issue. There's lots of vendors who are (or say they are) "crazy about music", but not nearly as many who are "not evil".

One of the big reasons I like Magnatune is it's artist supporting business model. I _love_ the fact you're experimenting with new ways of running "the music business", and I love pointing that out to friends. I'd be sad if the new site message that friends took away when I sent them here to see was just "We're crazy about music!", 'cause that's to my ears pretty much MBA level Marketing101 empty words - the sort of slogan I'd expect Virgin or Sony or Tower to use...

Good luck with it all!

DJ Kaboodle

A bit late to the party, but here's my observations:

I like the general design and ideas for the new site, but I can see what people mean about the yellow and the font. It's all MUCH better than the competition, though.

DON'T lose the 'We are not evil', especially with the ongoing SOPA/PIPA/TPP/ACTA nonsense being thrown around by other record labels. If you must change it, maybe something along the lines of 'We like you' (but NOT that!) - just to show that you're still not evil...

I really hope that the player is not the finished version - PLEASE don't have 5 scrolling menus joined together. Those designs are a nightmare, especially if you have a smaller browser window for any reason. If those scrolling menus are going to be tucked neatly away behind tabs, then they'll be great.

Will you be having downloads and streaming on the same (album/track) page? That is one part of the current design I would like to see changed. (No more clicking to a different page and interrupting the song I'm listening to).

Jamendo have a good player that allows you to keep listening to your chosen track/playlist while navigating around the site. Doesn't need to be a popup, either.

Also, if users can individually set a preference for the type of download they like (FLAC,WAV,mp3, etc.), then they should be able to just press 'download' to get the track/album in that format. (Obviously, with the option, via a little arrow, to choose another format for each download).

I would like, included in a 'user download preference', the option to ALWAYS have artwork included. I like the large image, and, if available, lyrics and liner notes. I feel I've got the complete package then, and can still enjoy my albums when 'The Man' turns off the internet for good...

The 'labels' idea seems great to me, better than the outdated concept of 'genres'. People should still be able to navigate by genres, but should also be able to use their own, and other users' labels to find new music. You might be listening to a classical album which is labelled 'raw' by someone, click to find other 'raw' albums and find a jazz-metal album that you never would have thought to look at otherwise. Could get complicated, but would be AWESOME to pull it off, and draw people further into your catalogue...

However, please don't do what most sites do for 'user recommendations' (Spotify, last.fm, etc.), because they almost never work, or are too obvious to be useful. (e.g. You like Foo Fighters? Why not try Nirvana?)

I like the blue cat - but it does make me think of this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiESwuVz_bI

Backwards compatibility would be good if you can achieve it, but if the new design and player are good enough, you shouldn't need it. Will you be beta testing?

protokool

I'm a new subscriber, and have been experimenting with listening on my Android phone (Nexus One) via the mobile site. Listening to a Podcast, e.g. Ambient (2012-01-28), there's no way of knowing which track is being played, except by noting each one while listening. Also, the skip forward / backward buttons don't work... they appear to pause the playback. And I agree with others here, it's not good the way the playback continues when navigating away from a page, e.g. I when click on an artist in the podcast listing. Could the HTML playback be improved or replaced with a Java applet?

I love the way Magnatune encourages exploration and discovery of new genres / artists. The curated compilations and genre lists are good for this, but I'd like to be able to flag an artist / album / song while listening to a list. Playlists and tags have already been mentioned, but this links in with those.

The cartoon character reminds me of the Wallace & Grommet characters, all toothy grins. Not keen on it, personally. I agree with other commenters that the look needs to appeal to a wide age range (I'm 51, btw).

...also, I'd like access to my usual member featues, e.g. favorites, download history.

One other thing, an easy way to switch back to the "full" web site would be handy.

Tomas J Stehlik

As a designer, I would say that the new design is not really an improvement.

As a music listener, I don't see any advantage in the proposed change.

As a businessman, I would say that this change is not going to make anything better. On the contrary, it is diverting from the simplicity of the original message. It is changing the design, which works.

There is a common mistake in thinking that it is necessary to change things. The truth is that it is not so.

Joe Henderson

Dear John:

Either mockup page looks good, but if you are going with that art style then you should do so on the first page people see as well as the page with the embedded player.

Whatever you do, please make sure we can access your site/music using 100% FLOSS! I'm one of those freetards who will not use flash or other non-free software.

Also, please make the player capable of recognizing members via password and playing music without the free preview elements. Not that Bob Gable isn't funny...

I am a lifetime member and I love these artists and your work. Thank you.

Ole Laursen

Maybe I'm a bit late commenting here, but I didn't see this mentioned anywhere. It would be neat if the new design would allow one to comment on pieces in some way.

For instance, I play the piano myself and while listening to a recording of a solo piano, sometimes something in the interpretation or execution either strikes me as super cool or odd. It would be nice if I could leave a comment on the piece or album and perhaps engage in a conversation about it, either with the artist or some other piano fan out there. This is something that will never happen with ordinary CDs from Deutsche Grammophon.

Davros

OK with the cartoon, tepid about the yellow background, dislike the font. The font seems like it is trying too hard and I can see some users having legibility issues. There are clearer fonts that are still different from the most common font sets and can make you stand out a bit. Feel free to ask for suggestions if need be.

No flash needed! Glory, hallelujah!

BTW, When I say I am OK with the cartoon, I mean relative to communicating what Magnatunes is a to a new comer, The artist is skilled and should be happy with what she did.

I understand why the slogan would be dropped. A big shame since you had it first, but the perception you mentioned can hurt. However, something like "crazy about music" reduces the website to a lesser "also ran". A copy of the ideas of other music sites without their popular, large catalogues. A slogan that mentions why you are here, your ethics sets you up for being different and makes people want to learn more. Expectations are set and now you are a hero standing out. Now they assume it is all about, and want to check out, music from outside the normal catalogues.

Everyone online expects the worst from a music site. First thing any Internet user would do is wonder is how is picking this music service over another going to harm me? What tactics and technology do they use to destroy my computer, control my listening, enslave their roster of artists? What are the pros and cons vs the other devil? "Crazy about music" says this devil was too tired to think of a slogan. "We are not evil" says check us out to challenge that, and when they do they realise that these people are radically different and want to support them. Music companies are evil, these guys just acknowledged that and claim they are different. Now a user wants to know more and be involved.

I suggest saying the same thing, but rephrasing it due to your concern about people having an incorrect perception of Magnatunes copying Google. At the least mention in the slogan something that makes people know they are not dealing with the music industry per sé. "A music company that helps", "We love music, and don't hate our customers", "Place for music listeners (or lovers), not just music consumers", "Where musicians and customers benefit (come together)" or even "No bad vibes, just music", "All music, no evil." Something along those lines. Your marketing people could start with that and come up with something better I am sure, and I expect many users of the service could as well. These are examples I am throwing out off the top of my head to illustrate that the point is the slogan should acknowledge the badness and stand against it so people will have correct expectations set, knowing you are different and better.

John Buckman

I wanted to thank you all for your comments, and to let you know that I've decided to keep "We are not evil" as our slogan, for all the reasons listed above.

I hope to have a new home page mockup from my graphic designer (not the 1st pass above that I made myself, and I'm no designer!) in a few weeks, and will post it to my blog.

There were several questions about Flash requirements and FLOSS compatibility: I can tell you that the new music player works beautifully without Flash, and works fine on Linux as well and even IE6 w/o Flash installed.

I'm still grappling with what social features to have with the new player. Shared tags are a good idea, shared playlists too, but I'm not sure yet what shape they should take. Probably, I'll release the new version w/o the social features, and get feedback at that point from you guys, so we can cooperatively decide what would be best.

-john

Niels

I'm ecstatic to hear that you've decided to stay with your original messaging. I honestly believe that will serve you really well. On a side note, after not having seen my comment (or the one's following me) for these last weeks, I was getting seriously worried that I was all alone with my sentiments and - worst of all - possibly had offended one of the few really good people in the music business space. Assuming that's not the case, I'll offer a suggestion to slightly amend your slogan - however the suggestion is with tongue firmly planted in cheek, also because of some of the recent events and changes around your (former) competitor for that slogan: "WE ARE STILL NOT EVIL" :-)

John Buckman

Hi Niels, I'm glad you're positive about staying with "not evil" !

About the comments not appearing -- I was approving them in the typepad moderation page, they just weren't appearing and I finally figured out that typepad defaults to only showing 50 comments, even though the drop down choice in my typepad config showed "unlimited". I had to manually reset that setting, and then all the back-comments from the past two months appeared. Phew! I *had* read all the comments (I get them via email too), they just weren't appearing on the blog due to that typepad issue.

-john

Niels

Hi John, thanks for responding so quickly and explaining what happened before. Oh the perils of technology! It's amazing when it works, and oh so nerve-wrecking when it doesn't. All the best with the re-write and everything else. Big fan here (as you hopefully know). ...Niels

Paul Archer

Three comments:

1) Like others, I don't think "Crazy about Music" fits, so I'm glad to see you're not using it. But I think "We're not evil" could use some updating. How about "No Evil, Just Music."

2) You contrasted the homepage to all those other sites that say something like "Unlimited Music" and "No ads." I think the homepage needs something that mentions the fact that you're not just getting to listen to unlimited music, but actually download and keep it.

3) I like being able to download entire albums. But they don't show up in the directory/file format I want, so I have to use a script to reformat the file names. I'd love to be able to select the format I want beforehand. IE be able to say I want: {artist_name}/{album_name}/{track_number}.{track_name}.{format}

Jonathan

The following advice is *excellent* and would help magnatune users promote magnatune!

"I'd love a feature where I, as a paying member, can get a link to a specific song so it's easy to share it on social media. Then if I am listening to a song I think others will love, I could just shoot them the link without having to include instructions like "be sure to skip to track 12".

If the free site still has the audible watermarking on songs (as it did about a year ago), it would be nice if a paying member could generate a short-lived link without the watermarking. The link could be active for, say, a week -- enough to fall off the radar on a social media site."

John Buckman

Great idea Jonathan! I'll put it on my todo list as part of the rewrite that I'm currently working on!

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