Back in February I discussed eMusic’s failure to provide more information about the artists whose music it sells, and suggested some ways it could do better. Now Fortune reports on eMusic’s attempt to do just that. This is gratifying, to say the least (though I doubt my post had any influence on eMusic’s plans).
It will be interesting to see how well the new eMusic web site features match up with my and others’ visions of what eMusic could do in this regard. In my original post I wrote that
A concerted approach to provide comprehensive context would combine information from lots of sources: eMusic-exclusive reviews, articles, and interviews, subscriber reviews, relevant message board posts (e.g., linked to from album and artist pages), Wikipedia articles, music blog posts, reviews from multiple sources, news stories, artist and label web sites and other pages (e.g., on MySpace), unofficial fan sites and forums, and so on.
Compare that with the Fortune article:
Let's say you are a fan of Arcade Fire. You can already read quite a bit about the critically-acclaimed Canadian cult band on its eMusic album pages. Now eMusic will add a wealth of content from the Web 2.0 universe: the band's Wikipedia entry, pictures from Flickr, and videos of Arcade Fire concerts from YouTube.
When providing context the more the better from my point of view. If eMusic adds context only from Wikipedia, Flickr, YouTube, and other major sites then it will be nice, but I think also a missed opportunity. Here are some key questions:
How (if at all) will the new site leverage the wealth of user-generated content on the existing eMusic message boards?
To what extent will the new site provide access to long tail content beyond the major web 2.0 sites, for example, posts in music blogs that discuss artists and releases available through eMusic?
Speaking of blogs, will eMusic’s own 17 Dots blog be better integrated into the main eMusic site?
Will the new site provide official mechanisms for labels and artists to make their own web content available (e.g, through links to band web sites)?
Will the new site allow eMusic subscribers themselves to contribute content, either through direct wiki-style editing of pages or through some other mechanism?
I began my last post with a quote from Ian Rogers (now of Topspin), and I’ll repeat the most salient part of it: iTunes is a (mostly) context-free content experience and the Web is a (mostly) content-free context experience. Whoever puts the two together wins. Could this be a winning strategy for eMusic? I’m certainly looking forward to what next Tuesday brings.