Blind Musicians December 29, 2007 10:51 PM   Subscribe

For MusicFi: I never have any idea if anyone listens to the songs I've put up, because no one ever comments or gives feedback. Granted, this might be because my songs suck could be better, but it doesn't seem like there's a lot of feedback even for the obviously skilled artists.

One simple thing that would be wonderful, I think, is if we could get some sort of readout of how many people have clicked on or downloaded a song, or anything of that nature. Right now we lack any feedback whatsoever. To some degree this might be because Music is less heavily-trafficked.

But it's also structural, I think. For a regular post on the blue, green, or gray, there's often at least some comments, as people engage in the story. With music, there's often little that can be said -- "I like it"; "Nice harmony"; etc. -- so there's less of a natural feedback mechanism, perhaps just because it's seems less natural to discuss music than an article.

This is the actual feature-request part:
What would be nice, and what would encourage me to write and post more music, could be nothing more than a little box (maybe visible only to the composer/uploader?) saying "x many people played the song, y many downloaded it" -- even though many of those might be partial downloads or listens, it'd be nice to know. It would be easier to engage in the site if I felt like it was less one-way, and if it were just a bit more "musician-friendly" I feel like I could take it up in earnest.

Which leads me to the final issue, which is that I find MusicFi lacking a sense of community, which is weird considering how many musically-inclined types are on MeFi. More on that below.
posted by spiderwire to Feature Requests at 10:51 PM (64 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

In addition to the increased-easy-feedback, it would be nice to have threads *without* songs that could be used to organize groups, composers, production teams, even local jam sessions -- if someone has an idea for a song and needs some accompaniment or some studio tweaking, or just some fresh ears to listen to a new mix or take.

On that note, it would also be nice if we could upload tracks into the collab threads instead of the collab posts, in order to share ideas -- though I dunno how much space MusicFi has open for that.

This is what I though MusicFi would be when I first heard it mentioned, but I feel like it's mostly a lot of people posting their individual work rater than the community I'd envisoned. I don't know if any of the devs are up for the changes -- hopefully they could be trivial -- but it seems to me that we could get quite a bit done with just a little leadership and elbow grease. I'm looking at you, cortex and flapjax. cortex, if you really do get excited about people "just goin' for it" and posting to MusicFi, step up and make it happen, son!
posted by spiderwire at 11:00 PM on December 29, 2007

I don't post to MuFi, but this sounds reasonable and good. Supported!
posted by milestogo at 11:06 PM on December 29, 2007

I, um, have never visited the music page. Because I am lame. I'm sorry. I mean, really, it's because I usually read Metafilter at work, where it would be impractical, and here at home I'm usually writing in another window and listening to iTunes, so while it's less impractical, it'd be something that would be harder to fit into the multitasking routine,'s just not something I ever really think about. But. In the new year, I resolve to...uh...listen. To stuff. And even comment. Maybe. I will!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:07 PM on December 29, 2007

Based on just those two comments, maybe also adding a song-of-the-week in a separate sidebar wouldn't be out of the question.

We occasionally get songs in the sidebar, but we could do more in general to tie MuFi (I like that) into the front of the site... like Projects, MuFi just doesn't seem like part of the family and people don't seem to check it that often...

...But then of course the content has to precede that so there's stuff there to check, which is why I was emphasizing getting the current community involved and stepping up the composing first...

Another benefit of collab threads, I would think, is that other MeFi members could stop by and give suggestions as well.
posted by spiderwire at 11:16 PM on December 29, 2007

Yeah, I'm down with anything that expands the functionality of MuFi. The rest of the site is bare bones, and I like it that way. However, MuFi should have lots and lots of features, because that would make it more fun and encourage browsing.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:33 PM on December 29, 2007 [2 favorites]

I rarely listen, and the main problem for me is that when I use the embedded player I can only listen as long as I stay in that tab (mufi open page) - when I switch to another tab it stops playing... so I can only listen if I stay glued to that one page.

But I definitely do think music deserves more attention from all of us! I feel guilty.
posted by taz at 12:33 AM on December 30, 2007

I rarely listen, and the main problem for me is that when I use the embedded player I can only listen as long as I stay in that tab (mufi open page) - when I switch to another tab it stops playing... so I can only listen if I stay glued to that one page.

Some ideas you could try:
(1) Open the song page to a new window
(2) Download the song with the little disk icon to listen to later
(3) Right-click the disk download icon and choose "Open in New Window..." and you should get a window with your browser's embedded MP3 player that you can shrink down and then move elsewhere... it should keep playing in the background.
posted by spiderwire at 12:57 AM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

opening in a new window doesn't work for me... but I did just discover that if I open a playlist, it doesn't cut off when I navigate away from the window.
posted by taz at 1:09 AM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I like this. It'd be really nice to be able to toss out half-done things (recorded or even just still conceptual) and look for feedback or collaboration.

The "Music Collaborators" page of the wiki is really cool (I don't see spiderwire on it, though!) -- I'd like to see a link to that page permanently sidebarred from the black -- or boxed at the top of the page (like the challenges are) -- and I'd like to see a tag established therein for any tunes that come of it ("meficollaboration"?).

Personally, I try and comment on at least five songs for every one that I post; I dunno if that's a ratio worth encouraging.

In fact, I'm going to go check out some more songs RIGHT NOW.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:26 AM on December 30, 2007

The "Music Collaborators" page of the wiki is really cool (I don't see spiderwire on it, though!) -- I'd like to see a link to that page permanently sidebarred from the black -- or boxed at the top of the page (like the challenges are) -- and I'd like to see a tag established therein for any tunes that come of it ("meficollaboration"?).

Well, I signed up for the wiki... No response yet. Probly for the best as I'm goin to bed. No more messing with garageband tonight.

I am going to check out some songs... RIGHT TOMORROW.. how am i up this late
posted by spiderwire at 3:09 AM on December 30, 2007

I was just thinking the other day about how cool a counter over there would be. I propose letting everyone see it.
posted by mosessis at 4:02 AM on December 30, 2007

which is that I find MusicFi lacking a sense of community

You've posted some good ideas here, but whether or not they are pursued, there are other things you can do to contribute to that sense of community: commenting, playlisting, listening to Alvy's very fine podcast and giving him feedback (the 12/10 show featuring micayoteca was amazing and I truly hope people more people will listen to it; I love that guy!), getting in touch with other musicians whose work you like to propose collaboration, that sort of thing.

Personally, I try and comment on at least five songs for every one that I post; I dunno if that's a ratio worth encouraging.

I think that's great, but hard and fast ratios are difficult to mandate -- that's why I never much liked GarageBand. If a song really strikes me I usually make sure to let the musician know either by commenting or putting their song on a playlist and I definitely think that's worth encouraging.
posted by melissa may at 4:12 AM on December 30, 2007

Well, spiderwire, as a frequent contributor to MeFiMu (that's how I like to abbreviate it, anyway), all I can say is, I feel your pain, brother. I sure wish more Mefiers would stop by and set a spell, y'know? Comment more often, give feedback, honest opinions, suggestions, thanks, you know, all that stuff. Thing is, folks pretty much don't. I'm all for any bells and whistles Matt and company can add to the site, and there have been a few in recent months, notably the Mefi Music Challenge, which is a good thing, I think. And the fact that there's been a regular featuring (or mentioning/partial playing) of selected MeFiMu songs on the MetaFilter podcast has also no doubt made a few more Mefiers aware of the subsite.

But, honestly speaking, I wouldn't expect a whole lot to change, as far as how many folks come to check out the black (as it's sometimes affectionately referred to). I don't mean to sound pessimistic, and in fact I have no intention of giving up on the subsite (I get about one tune a month up there, and comment on other folk's stuff quite a bit), but I do think that by and large people won't be checking the music there much more than they've done historically.

Now, as to why that is, well, that's more theorizing than I can appropriately articulate at this late hour, but in a nutshell I'd say that by and large, when it comes to music, folks are pretty much only going to check out stuff they've already read about, or that they've seen advertisements for. Music which has already attained that necessary PR critical mass, the visibility. And related to these points: music that is seen to have more legitimacy than whatever they'd find on a website that any old shmo can post their songs on. Sure, there are some adventurous souls that'll actually just click on a song by someone they've never heard of, even a non-professional musician. But such adventurous souls are a distinct minority, even here at good ol' MetaFilter, as the very low number of commenters at MeFiMu directly attests.

As far as your general idea that MeFiMu could and should be more community oriented, with more collaborative efforts going on and all, I don't disagree with you (it's not really an agree/disagree thing in the first place, I know), but I myself never really thought of it quite in the terms you are describing. For me, this is due to a simple question of time availability. While I'd ideally like to be able to swap a lot of files with folks and have collaborations going and tweak other folk's mixes and whatnot, well, that's just not in the cards for me. Not enough hours in my day as it is for the music I need to get done by myself or with the people I work with in the physical world. I have thought about asking some Mefiers about, say, sending a track and I add something and we go from there, and I probably will be doing that, but even then it'll probably be something of a rarity for me. Anyway, I believe in MeFiMu, I think it's a good resource, and I'd like to see it grow and accommodate all sorts of user's desires and intentions.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:31 AM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I like a lot, actually; it took a long time but it's evolved to a very nice model. But if you want that, there it is - their model is you get a lot of feedback on your songs, but it moves at a very slow pace unless you "earn your keep" by doing reviews - which are monitored for quality. It's a fairly intricate system, and not something you'd want to reinvent.

I don't really care too much about the play counts and stuff like that, but if you want to get more comments (which does seem like a healthy idea), I think you could make at least a small positive change with som very minimal changes. You could have a small "Why not listen to a few other tracks now?" message when someone uploads, maybe with a couple of randomly picked links to songs that could use comments. Make a space in the sidebar for a couple of randomly chosen songs from the past month (or whatever the open commenting period is) with a "Be the first to comment!" kind of banner. Even consider modifying the "MetaFilter Music is a site for members to upload..." message at the top of the page to encourage, or at least mention, the commenting part of the process.

It's also very hard to tell even in the broadest terms what kind of music a given post contains from the front page - song descriptions tend to focus on the uploader's thoughts about the music rather than disclosing anything of interest to a browsing, would-be listener. Sure, there are tags, but they're not visible from the front page, and they don't help much. Would you consider a genre field? It could be freeform, but I think it's likely to be more useful if there are some predefined categories (which people bitch about endlessly). The garageband genres model, again, works very well, but it's intricate - there are a few very broad "main" categories that you can put your song in; each of those has a fair number of subgenres (rock -> instrumental rock, hard rock, pop rock, etc, etc); and finally there's a freeform field where you can describe it however you want. The tag page here is an interesting place to start browsing, but the main page is relatively uninviting unless you're completely undiscriminating about what you listen to.

I've written scores (1,400 or so) of reviews on Garageband and never run out of stuff to say, so I don't buy the "With music, there's often little that can be said" comment. It takes thought, though, and there's relatively little incentive to do that here. I think if you just take the step of putting some language in a few visible places that makes it clear that commenting is good, important, and encouraged, that would do a lot for the site.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:34 AM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

New Year's resolution: spend more time on MeFi music.
posted by paduasoy at 5:43 AM on December 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

Spiderwire's ideas sound pretty cool to me. Add me as an "aye" vote.
posted by tdismukes at 6:13 AM on December 30, 2007

maybe also adding a song-of-the-week in a separate sidebar wouldn't be out of the question.

Excellent idea. I love music but rarely check out MeMu/MuFi, basically only when I hear something I like on the podcast or when someone writes to call my attention to a song (thanks, melissa may!). Basically, there's a lot of stuff I can listen to that I know I'll like, and going to MuFi and randomly clicking on songs and listening for long enough to know whether I like it or not is a lot more work than skimming comments in a thread. If I regularly saw recommendations for particularly good songs/tunes, I'd visit the site to hear them, and while there I might check out others. Gotta get the suckers in the door!
posted by languagehat at 6:30 AM on December 30, 2007

By way of comparison, here's the same song, here and at Garageband.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:23 AM on December 30, 2007

If I regularly saw recommendations for particularly good songs/tunes, I'd visit the site to hear them

This would be an excellent idea. We already have a sidebar which has notable posts, comments and answers on it--this would be a neat little addition to that.
I've always wanted to visit MefiMusic (when did the name change to MusicFi... I knew I'd been gone too long!), but my connection is much slower and I've got a really crappy system at home that you can't really listen to anything, which is why I don't. But yeah, I'm all up for making a resolution to at least try and visit the site more often, at least for flapjax at midnite's sake--who'd brought up this problem before and I feel a little guilty now for not heeding his words. Sorry flap!
posted by hadjiboy at 7:35 AM on December 30, 2007

I listen to most of the songs that come across MeFiMu and one of the reasons I don't comment more is that it's a challenge to figure out where the song is that I have been listening to. Usually involves actually searching the MeMu page [often with Google] to find the song. It might be that there's a better way to encode metadata so that the original URL could be someplace with the song. I just saw that divshare has a counter for douwnloads -- this is my favorite music blog right now -- and it's neat to see it increment and definitely gives you a feeling of how much people are listening to the music, etc.

if I open a playlist, it doesn't cut off when I navigate away from the window.

If this is true, it should go on the MeMu faq.

I think a sidebar that had some less-automatic content might be good. I'll run it by Dev Central when it's later in the day and sidebar Alvy's podcast.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:41 AM on December 30, 2007

A couple months ago someone asked for this functionality, but I can't find the question. Basically the answer is I'm using a free MP3 player flash control that would need to be rewritten to ping the database whenever someone pushes play. Since I'm not a flash developer, this isn't really something I could do easily.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:43 AM on December 30, 2007

Ideally, to make things a little neater and more complicated, it should ping the db after having played about half the track to minimise false positives, like Last.FM does.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:35 AM on December 30, 2007

I think indicating genre on the front page is a great idea for enticing listens.

As for comments, part of the problem as I see it is lack of definition about what the nature of a comment should be on music. Am I supposed to review the track? Or just say "I listened to this?" Is posting something to music an invitation for criticism? And if so, does the uploader want feedback on the writing, the performance, the production, or none of the above? As I recall, Garageband lets one specify what they'd like feedback about. It's certainly not true that there's nothing that can be said, but criticizing someone's art is a delicate thing. There's an (understandable enough) double standard that it's cool to leave a drive-by "I liked this" but a little rude to say "I didn't like this" and nothing else. You don't see much of the latter on Metafilter music, which makes for a very polite environment, but perhaps a quiet one.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:54 AM on December 30, 2007

I understand what ludwig_van is saying. It's not going to be the easiest thing for people to critique someone's art, right to their face, as it were. I think we musicians have it easier in that respect, cause we can generally get more specific about critique, often from a technical/theoretical standpoint (i.e. "you could stand some more compression on that vocal" and suchlike). Still, I'd like to think that the average music-loving Mefier could give the song he or she was commenting on enough attention and thought to make some sort of comment that would be... erm... appropriate. I guess I envision, ideally, something like how threads go in the blue: some folks leave driveby comments that are funny, some are negative, some are witty, some offer comparisons to something else, some ask some sort of related question, some are lengthy, some are thoughtful...

I also think that people posting songs to MeFiMu might not be quite as thin-skinned as might be imagined. Hell, even if a commenter wanted to come right out and say "this sucks", as long as that commenter could articulate why the music doesn't grab him, in such a way as to show he's actually listened and given it some consideration, then I think most MeFiMu posters could handle that. Things might get a bit livelier over there then, too!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:25 AM on December 30, 2007

Oh yes, and this:

I think indicating genre on the front page is a great idea for enticing listens.

Like many, many musicians, I've had a long distrust of genre labelling: those of us who don't quite fit in any of the standard genres as popularly defined generally struggle with the whole business. But, I agree. I think it would be a good thing for MeFiMu. I'd go for a standard little box, that could go, say, just under the song title. Then leave it to the poster to fill it in. If the poster wants to call it rock and nothing but, fine. Or if it's Croatian folk songs, fine. Or maybe it's most accurate to define your song by a compound genre. For example, a lot of my stuff could be described as Electroacoustic Americana Afrobeat. I'm all for a "genre box" but not limited to a set of genres as dictated by anyone else. Matt, can we have this feature?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:33 AM on December 30, 2007

Despite the fact that MuFi is a bit of a wasteland, I've gotten more and better feedback there than from probably all the music oriented sites I've posted stuff to put together. That's maybe a bit sad if you look at what people have said about my stuff (barely anything), but the fact of the matter is that we are completely saturated with music these days, what with the mp3s and the Internets and all, and I find some click fatigue perfectly understandeable.

There's the argument about if you don't support the musicians you like they won't be motivated to keep cranking out the hits. Lately, I've been of the mind that considering this glut of tunes, we could probably do without the people that would stop making music if no one cared. There would still be a great deal of good music around from people that make it cause music is awesome and they are driven to make it.

So, my idea is to withdraw all visible support and listen in stony silence. Pirate ruthlessly and use means to foil hit counters and statisticians. Return the musical note to it's real fiduciary value. Ensure that your favorite artists toil in sad obscurity.

I'm not arguing that pure-art music is necessarily better (though it certainly might be, on average), just that there will be a lot less of it to wade through, and for the moment, mathowie won't need to change anything and we can close this thread.

posted by 31d1 at 9:56 AM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

As for comments, part of the problem as I see it is lack of definition about what the nature of a comment should be on music.

I have had similar confusion as well. One thing that I've often wanted to do is post some vocal tracks I had been working on, and solicit feedback on whether or not I should just stop singing altogether, or if there's any promise at all. But, I stop short of doing so because (a) my singing is not nearly as well developed as some of the utterly fantastic talent that gets posted to MeFiMu on a daily basis and (b) I really don't know if it's appropriate for me to do so.

I am certainly not thin-skinned as to be devastated by hearing "you suck" or "your singing is literally so bad, you should die", but the last thing I want to do is derail the group. Oddly, this would seem a great vehicle for soliciting that kind of feedback, but I've never seen anyone try it, so I don't.
posted by psmealey at 10:07 AM on December 30, 2007

A couple months ago someone asked for this functionality, but I can't find the question. Basically the answer is I'm using a free MP3 player flash control that would need to be rewritten to ping the database whenever someone pushes play. Since I'm not a flash developer, this isn't really something I could do easily.

Fair enough -- this just seemed like the most obvious thing to me. Basically, I was trying to come up with a way for the posters to see that someone, anyone, is actually listening (even pressing the play button would count!)... otherwise it just kind of... sits there... and feels awkward. It's as if you played a song without being able to see the audience -- and then the curtain goes down and that's it.

It seems like the favorites functionality should do this, but I feel that it doesn't. Maybe people don't want to "burn" their favorites on MuFi, I dunno. Maybe the three or four songs I've posted there are just horrible. -- flapjax did criticize me once. :) Maybe severing the MuFi "favorites" from the rest of the site's favorites would be a good place to start?

Also, to reiterate the collaboration point -- flapjax, I think most of us are in your position. But musicians have been recording albums long-distance for a long time now, and it seems to me that half the point is that it's a convenient way to work for people who are otherwise busy. You find people with agreeable schedules, then trade tracks and put them together in Garageband or Logic or whatever and work at your own pace...

As an example, if we had a more organized way to do this, then psmealeys's lyrics post could be a place for people to post follow-ups incorporating different remixes and additional tracks in one place, without the need to spread it all over the front page.
posted by spiderwire at 10:50 AM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I listen to just about everything posted to Music, and have downloaded plenty (258 songs, 15.1 hours, 1.16GB so sayeth iTunes). But I rarely, if ever, comment because I rarely have anything constructive to say beyond, "I really like this. Thanks!"
posted by rhapsodie at 12:52 PM on December 30, 2007

I love MeFi music, but I am one of those who rarely listens now because the interface is clunky. Hearing about these work-arounds is nice, but ultimately the usability is not smooth compared to other online audio I listen to. Sorry, I am not techy enough to have suggestions. I can only listen when I am relatively unoccupied at work and can manage reloading a new page after each song.
posted by Miko at 1:02 PM on December 30, 2007

I'm a little late to the party, but when I read this last night it was late and I'd been working on a song (and the house) all day, so I was a bit cranky (the post seemed like a need for ego gratification... in the morning light it is not that) and didn't want to post. I still haven't slept much, so keep that in mind (that's not meant to be eponywhatzit).

I think things have been stated clearly above about why there isn't more of a community awareness of the music portion of the site, and the podcast and collab page was mentioned, so e-mail/MeMail someone if you want to work together.

Personally, I hate even trying to pick a genre for a lot of music that I do/listen to, but it's a necessary evil for many who listen to music, so that's a cool idea. And please, god (or matt), don't turn this into garageband. I think that place is great, but the ratio of "your song is too slow" to a well-thought review and critique is about 1000 to 1 (or at least was when I was there a few years ago).

I know that I've commented on people's songs when they specifically ask for better recording techniques or what equipment someone uses, etc., etc., so don't be afraid to ask those questions if you really would like a critique. If you want my opinion, write me an e-mail and tell me you've posted something and you'd like me to look at it. I'd be more than happy to do that (not that you should want my opinion, it's just a hypothetical situation).

Finally, spiderwire, you've posted two songs in the last, and busiest-for-most, two months and commented on four songs this year. Be patient. Be a part of the community that you'd want to be in. Build connections. Yadda yadda yadda grassroots community and DIY ethic. Collaborations (and remixed songs) have been brought up before, so maybe you could contact some of the more prolific posters at Music and see if they want to do something? I know I've been pretty busy with projects of my own and, like most everyone, the holidays, so I haven't had a ton of time to read metafilter or listen to music on the site lately. I'm going to at least make it a point to stop by music more often than I have been after the new year.

It seems to be raining doughnuts again in Portland, so I'm gonna go shower and eat. Have fun at/with music.
posted by sleepy pete at 1:10 PM on December 30, 2007

Quoth jessamyn: one of the reasons I don't comment more is that it's a challenge to figure out where the song is that I have been listening to. Usually involves actually searching the MeMu page [often with Google] to find the song. It might be that there's a better way to encode metadata so that the original URL could be someplace with the song.

id3v2 has comment tags and url tags. I don't know which ones clients are more likely to support, but it would be pretty neat if the posting mechanism automatically stuck the MuFi url in a tag somewhere.
posted by 31d1 at 1:10 PM on December 30, 2007

sleepy pete: I actually posted one or two songs before the database wipe. As I said, flapjax ripped on one, which was a little discouraging ;)

If I wasn't clear, my point was that I would like to post more (I have 7 or 8 songs that are basically done and that I could post), but I'm reluctant to jump in without at least the knowledge that someone was listening. I would love feedback too, of course, but mostly what I'm concerned about is what I mentioned earlier -- for someone who doesn't share my music much, if at all, it feels awkward to post something to the digital equivalent of crickets chirping.

Also, it takes me a long time for me to put together songs, for various reasons, so I really don't want to "jump in" -- that advice makes more sense for people who can crank out songs on a regular basis, but for me, each song posted is really a one-shot deal that I'd like to make the most of. But I'd still really like to post material, so I'm caught in a dilemma -- hence, this post.
posted by spiderwire at 1:30 PM on December 30, 2007

Oh, and I recognize that some of these topics have been discussed before and that the "plz fix MuFi" refrain is not new -- what I wanted to focus on were ways to make the community more active and welcoming to newcomers, people who aren't entirely comfortable about their music, etc.

Look. Consider that some of us aren't really "musicians," and the psychological difference that makes. I've been playing guitar for about 7 years now, and my parents didn't even know until about a year ago. I've been messing around with electronic music since junior high, mucking around on a 256-voice MIDI synth box supposedly bought for a sibling. I've even picked up a little theory on the way.

But about half of what I've recorded no one's ever heard but me. I mean, I like it, for the most part -- I even have some of it on my playlists. Not because I've vain (I think), but because I wrote it for me and so it's by definition my kind of music. But that means it can be a bit weird to share it. I'm not that sensitive about criticism, but what I don't enjoy is the aforementioned crickets chirping.

I agree that MuFi should be a relaxed place, of course, but it's just too.... quiet. And a bit insular. Maybe like going to an open mic for the first time (which I haven't done, but for the sake of the analogy): maybe you're not expected to be great, but at the same time many of the people there are also the same people who perform every night, and that's weird. For the regulars, it might be natural, and hell, they probably don't mind me at all. But from my perspective it feels like I'm giving a vanity performance, because it's a captive audience. (To be clear, I don't think that MuFi is a vanity affair, I'm saying that for me to post and then return to lurking makes me feel like the guy who's just there to hear himself talk and leaves right afterwards.)

I don't know how else to describe it. I don't know what the solution to that is, necessarily -- I'm just trying to point out how it feels to me and to try and think of some things that might make it more welcoming.
posted by spiderwire at 2:01 PM on December 30, 2007

Said Matthowie:
A couple months ago someone asked for this functionality, but I can't find the question. Basically the answer is I'm using a free MP3 player flash control that would need to be rewritten to ping the database whenever someone pushes play. Since I'm not a flash developer, this isn't really something I could do easily.
The mp3 player you use just takes as an argument the location of the mp3 file. What you could do is make a script that first logs the hit in the database, and then serves the mp3. As long as proper headers were sent, it wouldn't make a difference to the player.
posted by !Jim at 3:24 PM on December 30, 2007

Hey spiderwire, keep posting songs, man.

As far as making MeFiMu more accessible, I like your ideas and all of the above comments. But even if such things are implemented it doesn't mean that there will be more comments or that there will be many more visitors.

My big suggestion to you, is to make the best use of what's available now. Participate in comments, fuck around and have fun. Don't be afraid to ask for feedback. "Does this suck?"
"Do I sound like an intubated chipmunk?" And use MeFiMail. It rocks!

Speaking for myself, it can be intimidating trying to comment sometimes when so many MeFMu folks are so damn talented and brilliant. But no one has ever called me a goof-tard for my simple comments.

So go post something and let's have some fun!
posted by snsranch at 5:00 PM on December 30, 2007

Speaking as someone who listens to pretty much everything but is horrible about commenting, I'd like to second what taz and jessamyn said.

Thanks for the sidebarring, admin-people!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:11 PM on December 30, 2007

But even if such things are implemented it doesn't mean that there will be more comments or that there will be many more visitors.

Of course. But while I'd love comments, I have a separate concern about just knowing that people are actually listening. It doesn't have to be public or anything, just anything to alleviate the feeling of playing into a void, which I find weird. I mean, I can see a great song on MuFi hardly getting any response at all for exactly the reasons you describe. But the uploader can't tell one way or another.

It's like the the guys who come to the coffeeshop where I study and play really, really intently even though it's clear no one's listening. That's just creepy.

I dunno; maybe it's just me. But that's a distinct concern from increasing traffic and feedback, which are both, I think, always good things.
posted by spiderwire at 5:38 PM on December 30, 2007

Yes, I definitely understand and the comment flow has really been much slower in the last six months or so. I try to comment as much as possible and I really listen to just about everything posted. Sometimes, and I know this isn't quite right, if I don't have time to comment, I'll hit a song as favorite so that at least the poster knows that I heard it and dig it. That kinda ties into your one-click response idea.

I have to say that I'm not really a great musician, but MeFiMu people have been really generous to me. It's just amazing how much I've learned there. So, hooray MeFiMu!

Alvy Ampersand, thanks for that blog! I'm off to check it out.

And thanks, Admin People for the the sidebar!
posted by snsranch at 6:40 PM on December 30, 2007

I try to comment as much as possible...

Hey, sns, you are the √úbercommenter at MeFiMu, and I (as well as, I'm sure, lots of other posters there) really appreciate it. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:04 PM on December 30, 2007

Well, thank YOU flapjax! I kinda consider myself to be more of a cheerleader whereas you have been a great coach. There are great things going on at MeFiMu, and I haven't seen yet an instance in which someone has asked for advice or feedback and has gotten no response.
posted by snsranch at 8:02 PM on December 30, 2007

Sadly, being on dialup keeps me from enjoying MeFiMusic at home and at work? Well, it's work, innit? So I can't really listen to music there although I applaud all of you who labor to put it up for us.
posted by Lynsey at 12:20 AM on December 31, 2007

Consider that some of us aren't really "musicians," and the psychological difference that makes.

John Kruk once told someone when asked how he can smoke as a professional athlete, "I ain't an athlete, lady, I'm a baseball player." I'm pretty sure that's how most people feel about their perceived role as a musician while posting their songs to music.

Also, has this

note: Everyone needs a hug.

always been on metatalk above the post/preview buttons? That's pretty great.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:55 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with your sentiments, spiderwire. I posted what I consider to be my "opus" from a year or so back, and people didn't seem to pay much attention to it.
posted by tehloki at 4:39 AM on December 31, 2007

My main thoughts:

- I think a Music sidebar would be a good thing. Maybe it's about time we figure out how to make that happen, even if it's just a little manually-updating thing akin to the front page sidebar.

- The notion of making it clearer what kind of recording you're uploading, as a way to help people feel okay posting things that are, say, more demoish, is an interesting one. Music has always been sort of a "give us something to listen to" page, so someone posting just an odd little snippet of something or a recording that is super rough might seem weird to someone. If we were to create some simple explicit categories (original, cover, demo, experiment), I wonder if that'd be useful.

- Finding some simple way to significantly improve the music player functionality sounds like a big way to up listenership somewhat. I'm don't think we've really come across one, yet; we've seen some simple things, and some things that would significantly improve it, but not both in one container.

- The play-count thing remains to me a very meh proposal; I hear what spiderwire is saying here about frustration at the low traffic on Music, but I don't think counting the number of times someone has hit "play" is treating the illness, just a symptom.

- The very, very best way to get some collaborative stuff to happen is to do it yourself. Drop someone a line, make a proposal, see if you can get something going. Even at that, it might fizzle—I'm about ten months late fulfilling my end of the bargain on a project with gnfti, and I really like the idea—but that's the simple truth of it: musical collaboration is hard work, every step of the way, and the only way it'll happen is if someone is dedicated to doing that work. The only way it'll happen en masse is if a whole bunch of people are.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:47 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for your thoughts cortex. But, what do you think of a "genre box"? As mentioned above, I think it might make people a little more likely to click on songs, if they have some idea of what they're going to get. And again, I'm envisioning a strictly poster-specified sort of thing: however anyone wants to categorize their stuff, including, of course, "uncategorizable" or whatever.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:06 AM on December 31, 2007

Oh and by the way, Happy New Year from Japan, where we're about 8 minutes into 2008 now. So far it's been a reasonably good year.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:08 AM on December 31, 2007

I have the same problem as sleepy pete when it comes to genre; I'm not against the idea of a genre box of some sort, per se, but the idea doesn't light my ass on fire either. I dunno!
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:08 AM on December 31, 2007

Hey, it ain't just you and sleepy pete. You'll note that I also mentioned upthread that I've never been a big fan of defining by genre, and what a thorny issue it can be, but I really do think it might make avrage folks a little more (or, hell, maybe a lot more) likely to explore the offerings at MeFiMu. Actually, I wouldn't harp on it like I'm doing now if I didn't think it would. And like I say, we're talking artist-definable here. We wouldn't have to choose among a limited list of genres laid down by god, the RIAA or the MeFi admins. Not to mention that anyone who wanted could also just leave the box blank.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:28 AM on December 31, 2007

What, no "other" category? You could always choose that and then describe it more specifically with tags. The you-must-have-one-tag thing sorta tweaks me the wrong way anyway.
posted by spiderwire at 8:42 AM on December 31, 2007

...what I meant by that is that it would be nice to have genres in lieu of that first tag anyway for search purposes -- i.e., just to get everyone on the same page as far as what tags to use, and as a way for those of us who can't really think of any descriptive tags to choose a genre and know that it'll be categorized properly.
posted by spiderwire at 8:46 AM on December 31, 2007

Just wanted to toss in my thoughts, briefly:

- The interface for listening to songs on MefiMu, the whole process of browsing and listening and commenting, is clunky. It just needs to be reworked. That's a lot of work I suppose.

- The great thing about the Genre Box idea is that it could be free-form with a character limit. It'd be just a great chance to catch someone's eye and maybe get some more clicks.

- Collaborative music making is hella fun but hella hard. Really hard.

- The Black doesn't feel like as much like a community as other sections, obviously. It sort of feels like an open mic night with a ton of people you don't know, and it just never stops. Every now and then someone might walk over to your stool and whisper a Good Job in your ear, which feels very nice.

I don't really have the solutions to these things, but this is sort of why I haven't been participating lately.

I really think the best thing to do would be to improve the usability. With improved usability comes more users (hopefully) which may assist in alleviating the other stuff.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:48 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Uh, spiderwire, are you talking to me? I don't understand what you're saying. Sure, there could be an "other" category. And/or a "songs about my socks" category, plus any and all others, or no category at all. I said that if a "genre box" was instituted the genres shouldn't be decreed from above, and the artists should be able to choose any one they'd like. Wasn't that clear from my comments? And I never said "you-must-have-one-tag" either. One of my comments upthread mentions that people might want to use compound descriptors. Perhaps you should reread what I've said in this thread: if you read my comments at all, you didn't read them very carefully.

As far as tags, it's already been pointed out that tags are visible only after someone has clicked on any given song. The suggestion for genre boxes is offered as a way for people to scan the front page and get a rough idea of what they might get before they click on the song.

But hey, the idea doesn't seem to be going over too well so far anyway. I'm not getting the feeling that this is something the admins are going to do.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:55 AM on December 31, 2007

No, not referring to you, I meant that the song-description page forces you to choose at least one tag. I never know what to tag my songs, so it'd be nice to have a "genre box" as a sort of cheat sheet -- for example, the last song I put up I tagged "electronic," but I'm sure there's lots of songs out there tagged "electronica" and a genre box would at least get those songs on the same page, as it were.
posted by spiderwire at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2007

Erm... I should've previewed, spiderwire, I didn't see your 2nd comment that came right on the heels of the "other" comment. I'm still not sure what you mean, but, anyway, it's beddy bye time for me...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2007

Oh jeez, here we are talking right past each other! OK, g'night y'all! And again, Happy New Year!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2007

Akemashite omedetoo gozaimasu, flapjax at midnite.

I'm in the same boat as Lynsey; technological difficulties prevent me from listening. But I do point my brother, with whom I record (and who records alone a lot) towards the site. I don't think he's posted anything to MuFi, and I really don't know if he listens, either, but judging from his comments about other music sites, feedback about downloads and listens is most all the feedback we get, and is thus like a sweet honey massage for his unrequited soul. Great idea, spiderwire.
posted by breezeway at 9:01 AM on December 31, 2007

Here's a thought that I JUST HAD about play counts: Every now and then I check my own personal web site usage stats, which show how many times my songs have been downloaded from there. This month, there have been about two hundred downloads. Number of comments about songs on my site? One.

Okay, so does this make me feel good, that at least I can tell that somehow people are finding the site and downloading stuff? OR~! does it make me feel bad, because less than 1/2% of downloads affect someone enough to leave a comment? Do people just not have anything nice to say, and so choose to not say anything at all?

I realize, of course, that this is all par for the course, internet-wise -- lurkers far outnumber commenters. I think that play counts are an interesting piece of data, but I'm not sure if I'd prefer a one-to-one ratio between plays and comments, or if I'd prefer a play count that dwarfs the comments.

Um, I don't anymore recall exactly what my point here was supposed to be. Time to hit the "post" button!
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:47 PM on December 31, 2007

Heh. That's indeed par for the course, Karlos. I was just shocked (and for a while dismayed) when my first semi-successful web experiment started pulling in thousands of visits—and ones of comments. I wish I could even say tens, but that was a good day. But then I consider how often I read something or listen to something online, and enjoy it, and yet don't leave a comment or write an email or whatever. And I'm probably a fairly active commenter in my random travels, at that. It is a weird little thing, and the general non-participatory nature of most web consumption is a fascinating thing (to me) to consider.

I'm not sure exactly what we could find out, but I might poke Matt and pb to see if we could do some sort of snapshot of file-serving stats on songs; as much as I don't find the playcount feature idea personally compelling, seeing at least a sketch of the aggregate numbers would entertain me.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:55 PM on December 31, 2007

taz mentioned this problem, and I'm interested in figuring out a way to fix it: When using Firefox (in Windows), the sound can only be heard in the frontmost tab of the frontmost window. It stops when you change windows, change tabs, or change applications.

This doesn't occur in IE7. I'd prefer to use Firefox. Any ideas what causes this problem or how to make the audio keep playing in a background tab?
posted by kidbritish at 2:23 PM on January 1, 2008

Check it out, pb is announcing some new stuff that may fix some of this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:39 PM on January 2, 2008

It seems like I'm a bit late for this, and I am exhausted after a long trip, but I don't want to miss the opportunity to comment on this. I'll try to make sense:

I completely understand the feeling you get after posting something and not getting feedback at all. I discovered MeMu a couple of months after it 'opened', heard every song posted, then posted one of my own. By that time, after reading the aggregate of every comment posted, I thought I was going to get dozens of comments, but I didn't get any. It was a bit discouraging at first. Over time I "developed an audience" of a bunch of people who constantly listen to my songs and comment in them. That to me it's particularly cool because all of them are people whose music I really like. Although I'd still like to hear the opinion of random pedestrians who've never made music. Or a housewife in Japan who wouldn't otherwise have listened to music like the one I do. Something like that.

So yeah, that is a bit discouraging and a handful of the regulars have been asking for different features (from a specific space to post the lyrics, which there is now, to things like "sections to announce gigs or do "interviews" on other collaborators). But changes come slow.

I personally would like to have a way to interview some of the MeMusicians whose recordings amaze me. Or to have the ability to post, along with the song itself, a demo version, or a later mix. And notes. And the lyrics. Does that sound complicated? cortex pulled it off nicely with his album Manifests.

Meanwhile, pb did a great job changing the flash player, which seems to be working marvelously now. That, and a little visibility in the more visible parts of the Metafilter could go a long way towards having more people visiting and interacting. Hopefully one day we'll have threads of "genius" musicians complaining about how regular laymen come and leave hundreds of comments on their songs, which makes it hard to differentiate them from the "valuable" comments of actual musicians. Imagine that.
posted by micayetoca at 9:29 AM on January 4, 2008

Oh, and I forgot to say. Thanks for the compliment, melissa may. It means a lot because some time ago I used to like the Harvey Girls a lot.
(I used to like them, now I worship them).

sleepy pete: you nailed it.

snsranch: cheerleader? you are the engine of the train!
posted by micayetoca at 9:37 AM on January 4, 2008

micayetoca, don't try to make me blush, it will NOT work. (Well, maybe a little bit.)
posted by snsranch at 3:21 PM on January 4, 2008

« Older San Antonio and Austin meetup   |   How feasible is email@metafilter? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments