Written by Internet


The promotional cans of Coke advertising their new service have started to appear (in our fridge at work at least), and so I’ve had a look around their site. Well I say “their site” since I really mean a branded OD2 site, much like the GWR service’s site will also be.
I have two problems: it’s useless with Macs, and it’s a poor site.
I don’t even have a Mac, but all those people who bought iPods are going to be left out anyway even if they own PCs since the tracks are all WMAs. But that’s nothing compared to the weakness of the site.
A bit like looking up your favourite films in any paper movie guide you ever pick up, I always look up a few favourite artists when I get a new online site to browse.
Browsing by genre brings up 29 categories with the number of tracks available in brackets. I clicked first on Soundtracks (a paltry 2775 tracks) and was taken straight into the “A” section of an A-Z listing of tracks… seemingly sorted by Artist! Brilliant. All I have to do is know the composer for a given film and I might be able to get some of his tracks. Just as well Virgin Megastores and HMV don’t sort their soundtrack albums that way. Nothing by the Oscar winning Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore by the way. Oh and maybe it’d have been nice to have a “top sellers”/”new releases” display type thing rather than launching me straight into the As.
So maybe I was unfair. Let’s go to Classical instead, with a healthy 21003 tracks. Again the A-Z listing finds me in the As. I skip through to S, in search of something by Sibelius, my favourite classical composer (featured heavily in the Die Hard films incidentally, in case you didn’t think you knew any Sibelius). Sadly the Finn has no listing. A bit obscure? Not really. Still let’s go for something more mainstream. Mozart. Click on the Ms. There’s the great man. Click on his name: “> Here is a list of products matching your search of : Mozart : No Records Found.”
Hmm. Not exactly unpopular sort of guy is he. Still, I realise we’re talking about a service that caters to the Coke drinking crowd (like me). So we’ll try rock and pop shall we.
Pop offers a healthy 66773 tracks, and Rock 54,356. I click on Rock, and this time they have featured artists, a top forty best-sellers selection and so on. This is more like it. At number 8 in their top ten are The White Stripes, and Seven Nation Army. Great track. Let’s see if I can buy it (OK – there’s no chance of me buying it, but bear with me). I click on the White Stripes link: “> Here is a list of products matching your search of : The White Stripes : No Records Found.”
So their 8th biggest rock seller has no tracks available. Maybe Jack White had some kind of falling out with Coca-Cola? I don’t know.
There are plenty of other tracks available, but that’s not the point. I was just idly surfing along, and found all these short comings. If you’re going to have 29 categories then do them properly or not at all. I don’t work in retail, but I’m guessing that the average HMV manager knows that having displays of relevant artists in each genre’s section probably helps shift product. We don’t all come into a store knowing exactly what we want. And in any case, if I happen to know precisely what I want, I’m only moderately likely to find it here.
Amazon is an online store that gets this right. Surely anyone can code up an accurate “best sellers” page for each genre – no human intervention required.
Artists and labels have put different restrictions on what you can do with the tracks on this service, making me even less likely to pay 99p per track.
And one final thing, although you can listen to 30 second samples of most tracks, they stream at a low bit-rate. Mightn’t it be a clever idea to stick a handful of free tracks on the site? Up and coming bands or something – no-names even. That way I can fully download a track without making a committment, and check out the download quality. The streaming version is something akin to AM radio (something I’m awfully familiar with).