Songness: A Critical Site Review
“Songness,” as their press release announces, “is a new music discovery site designed to help fans find and share great new songs among the millions offered by independent artists on the Internet.” Put differently, “we are using vague terms that inevitably lump the mission of our site in with the fifty other ones that no one has ever heard of.” After reading things like that and further promises, I felt compelled to go to their new site and try to discover some music for myself.
The first thing that’s disconcerting is that in order to play any music on the site I had to go through the registration process. It seems like it would be common sense to let users try out some of the basic functionality of the site before you force them to give up their information, but that’s me. Registration just gives newcomers a reason to leave. After doing so, I'm back at the center of the homepage, there is a categorization system that allows me to select the type of music that’s the most relevant, but to be honest, it’s less than useful.
There are far too many unnecessary categories. Can anyone tell me what in the world a Melodramatic Popular Song is? Is this the way I access all songs?
Next, I clicked top rock song off their home page; it was a good song, but they only allowed me to hear a thirty second sample. It’s usually not a smart move to take the Hear part out of the “Hear-Like-Buy” equation. Look, I’m not going to buy music that I can’t hear. That is why I’m visiting this site, aren’t I? They’ve promised me that there’s millions of songs to hear, yet several of them that I’ve tried so far are only previews. What independent artist in their right mind thinks that it’s a good strategy to only give potential fans samples of the songs that they’re already desperate to get anyone to listen too? Since there’s advertising plastered on the site for Ariel Hyatt’s Music Success in Nine Weeks and Jay Frank’s Futurehit.DNA, I find it ironic that whatever line of advice that these artists happen to be following runs contrary to anything that these two thinkers would ever (likely) advise them to do, in order to further their careers.
Remember that good song? Well, I decided to click and be brought to artist page and was amazed to find nothing but a skeleton of what could’ve been another opportunity to inform me about the artist. Their page is bare bones; it provides no useful, if any relevant information about the band. A few artists appear to at least have a bio page, but when clicked, all you get is an huge glut of information—that lacks any and/or all space between paragraphs.
Oh, and before I forget, the navigation on the site is a failure. Why can’t I click on the top banner and return to the homepage? Really? They’re actually going to make me hit the back button in my Google Chrome window. Their player looks like I can only play one song at a time. None of the tags in the artist profiles are clickable. This site fails on multiple levels to be any kind of meaningful addition to the social ecology of music culture online; it doesn’t engender any sense of community or interaction. In closing, after taking the time to register to use this site, I find it painful to read all the PR hype and exaggerated claims. Sadly, I see no real reason to return to Songness.