I like the new design.

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  • Updated 6 years ago
I've been playing around in the beta, and it seems like a really attractive and intelligent group of people work on this site. It oozes sex appeal and confidence. Great work!
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Lauren Malatesta

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Posted 6 years ago

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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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I agree with every one of your assessments.
Thanks for your continued support, random user of AllMusic.
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dan forte

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Way to spew the corporate line, Zac. One person thinks the new design "oozes sex appeal" (yeah, that's what I need when I'm trying to do research), hundreds of others hate it. Lauren Malatesta's comment says (and means) next to nothing; she doesn't address any specifics as far as the information on the site. "supra92" (Brian) is NOT "at a loss for words"; everything he says is right on the money – although there are far more problems he could've listed. I'm guessing he just got too disgusted.
I hope you folks realize just how disappointed, frustrated, deflated, and just plain pissed off most of your longtime users are.
Change is not always a good thing. This is some art dept.'s wet dream of smoke & mirrors. The site is supposedly called "all music" for a reason: so people can easily look up all music!
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Andy DeNardi

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I've been using the beta site for at least a month and have waited for the day when it would go live. I anticipated the that the volume of complaints would increase tenfold, and I disagree with them.

It's not perfect, but I feel it's an improvement on last year's attempt Several things that bugged me from that redesign have been fixed, and I hope that the feedback from this one will not roll back those changes. It's been a while, but I don't recall any frustrations with the site before Rovi. Things began going downhill then, and we're back where I'm happy again.

I hope that these changes bring more paying customers so that you can hire more people. I'm tired of that as an excuse for all of AMG's faults. I hope that in your rush to stay current, you don't neglect the thousands of unreviewed albums and entries that contain nothing but a name.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Thanks Andy. Your comments along this beta period have been insightful, constructive and helpful.
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supra92

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As a long, LONG time user of AMG since it's inception circa 1991 in book format, I am severely disappointed in this latest iteration of AMG's site. We just spent a LOT of time about a year or two ago getting that new site then winnowed down into something fairly visible and useful..... and that site lasts all of, what, a year or two tops, before suddenly it's overhauled again?

The black/blue colour scheme is simply too jarring and busy, and I cannot stand the way that the discography is not right on the page after you choose an artist. At least on the old site one could choose an artist, and there was a nice "Jump To Discography" link at the top..... **which did not require a page reload/refresh**..... that took you to the discography. Now on this new site, there is ZERO useful information about the artist. You have to click to get to either of the two useful sections (Biography, and Discography). Not having either one of those, let alone both (the way the old site did) is downright appalling.

Zac, I sallied forth with an open mind a year or two ago, and spent a lot of time here with you and others offering advice and feedback on how to get that new site chiseled into a solid experience -- which in the end, it was. To suddenly cast off and throw all that work out the window for this busy and far-less-useful implementation is unfortunate at best, and severely disheartening in practice.

I really urge you to think twice about sticking with this. Unfortunately, "the rabbit is out of the hat", so to speak, and I'm betting that AMG won't backtrack because it would mean all the work on this latest Black/Blue site would have been for naught.... and few businesses are willing to own to that sort of thing.

I cannot state sufficiently how disappointing this change is --- and coming **so** soon after all that time, effort, testing, and so forth that we all put into the site that came out a year or two ago. Unbelievable.

At a loss for words,
Brian
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dan forte

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For being "at a loss for words," you took a whole bunch of 'em right out of my mouth – although "sucks" also comes to mind. I've used allmusic.com in my work and recreation since its inception, and nearly all of the changes over the years have made it worse and worse, harder and harder to be useful for any meaningful research.
Please AM brain trust, don't make me use Wikipedia instead!
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Andy DeNardi

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I'm in agreement about the Overview page but I REALLY like that the discography and biography are separated once again. Many users are asking for that feature back, and I hope that doesn't come about
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supra92

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I've come around to the separate Bio and Disco tabs, as well. It does kind of get old having to wait for a screen refresh between the two (vs. the Jump To Disco link which was instantaneous because it was an HTML pagelink on the same page)....... but the answer to me involves a better tech solution to the reload stuff. Ajax, maybe? Not sure. I honestly can deal with the refresh, even, so long as that Overview tab gets killed off. Make either the Bio the leftmost/default tab with Disco to the right of it, or vice versa. One of those two tabs, in its entirety, needs to be the default landing page when choosing an artist.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi Brian,
I'm sorry you feel so strongly about these changes.

Based on your feedback from a year ago:

"The hope amongst many of us is that AMG winds up returning them to the far left along with the other fixed-width columns (like Year, album art, etc.) as well as being a bit smaller (read: less loud) and returning to a blue/black colour."

we felt like we were back on a path that users would respond well to.

I hope that we can continue to work together to keep improving the site.
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dan forte

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You need to UN-improve it. I can't see a single new feature in the redesign that's an improvement. Not one.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Dan, we've listed out some of the new features here: https://getsatisfaction.com/allmusic/...

The new features may not be of value to you personally, but many users are enjoying the fact that they can now use the site on their phone, lyrics, the "All" view in discography and other features.
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supra92

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I must say... you, and AMG, are nothing if not responsive to people's posts. I've always appreciated that aspect during our conversations last year.

The "blue/black" comment was specifically about the small lettering of the album and track names, along with the size/colour of the stars. Black, as well as dark blue, is very clear against a white background -- and ideal for those of us using AMG for research or education. Which, let's face it, is the majority of your users. And that, I think is one of the salient points to note here --- people interested in flashy graphics and "quick hits" (which is how I'd describe what AMG has opted to use for the initial contents upon loading an artist page: a rather haphazard subset of album covers) will be hitting mainstream media sites, band websites, and so forth. AMG has a huge following of people who utilise it regularly in semi-encyclopaedic fashion, to look things up for reference and knowledge. To that core (and NOT small) group of users, clean/clear is the way to roll.

"Black/blue" was not intended to be a signal to move to white text on a blue background, as is now the case on the upper half of AMG's new site. Particularly the search box which now uses white text on a charcoal background within a black frame background. This is a real step backwards from last year.

Using Jethro Tull as an example.....

Bringing up Jethro Tull brings me to the "Overview" tab. In the previous site, it was *chock* full of information I wanted: the full biography of the band, followed by the discography -- with a handy "Jump To Discography" link at the top to get there quickly, easily, and most importantly without a page reload or screen refresh. Now? The initial overview page contains six "album highlights", three of which are live albums (???) In particular, "Aqualung Live" from 2005 might be the LEAST useful album to a Jethro Tull neophyte one could imagine. And yet that is subjetively included on the Overview page --- and when the proper Aqualung studio release from 1971 is *also* on that same overview page? This makes no sense at all. Instead of seeing a full biography and full discography the instant I land on the Jethro Tull band page...... I am now met with a haphazard subset of six albums and nothing more, that forces me to click and reload/refresh TWICE to see the Biography, and then the Discography.

Further, when I finish reading the Biography, because there is no Discography beneath it (nor any link), I have to scroll ALL the way back up to the top to the again-jarringly-coloured "white text on charcoal or blue backgrounds behind a black frame" menu to select Discography, which of course once again results in a page reload/refresh forcing me to wait.

That describes the crux of my issues with the new site.

Some positive comments to reinforce what I see AMG doing nicely:

1. You've kept the discography format intact. Album art on far left, then the Year in ascending order (and sorted by that, too), then album title, label, AMG rating, and User rating. Very nice, and glad to see AMG has not messed with this. Exactly how it needs to be, except for one thing....

I still miss, from the site *before* the previous site, the ability to tell which albums are studio vs. which ones are live. I would love it if AMG added one more small column, text-only, after the Title but before the Label, titled "Type". It would simply be Studio or Live (seeing that compilations and singles and EPs have their own separate listings). 1978's Bursting Out is a fine album, but it's not a studio album it's a live album -- when perusing the discography I'd like this to be a fairly obvious fact without having to delve into the album itself (however, even doing that does not state "Live" anywhere).

2. You've ditched the "Click to read more" rubbish when one chooses a Biography. It used to be that choosing Biography meant you were taken to a page that had the first 4 or so paragraphs, and then a "Click to read more" (forcing a page refresh to see the whole thing). Glad that is still ancient history.

3. Nice to see lyrics starting to be added to songs, as a separate tab. Good stuff.

My biggest suggestions, ordered by most-important.

1. Please ditch the brutal "Overview" tab of the artist. A random subset of 6 album covers is worthless. I really mean that. Everything else beneath it is not what I want to see on the first tab of an artist (meaning, Related Artists, Moods, Themes, etc.)

2. You could make 80% of my pain with the new site go away if you simply eliminated "Overview" and shifted the rest of the tabs leftward, making Biography the leftmost (and crucially, the *default*) tab when landing on an artist page. Discography would be to the right of it, then Songs, Credits, and so forth.

3. Take the other stuff on the hopefully-soon-to-be-axed Overview page, and move them to the rightmost "Related" tab. Related Artists should go under the Related tab. So should Moods and Themes.

Right there, you'd fix 80-90% of my pain. I still quite dislike that jarring black background up top with the light blue and charcoal menu system --- but acknowledge that I could probably acclimate to that over time, as humans are adaptive creatures. It would be really helpful if you could make it so that the tabswitching was smoother (Ajax? Silverlight? something....) so that there wasn't a long pause and screen refresh between tabs.

There is, however, no adapting to that Overview tab. Please, please kill that tab..... moving its contents to the far-right Related tab where they belong, and shifting Biography to the leftmost/default location, with Discography in the 2nd slot to the right of it. (Also, a Jump To Discography tab at the bottom of the Biography would be really useful, as most biographies are long enough such that the menu tabs are scrolled off the top of the screen and not visible when you reach the bottom).

That about covers it... thanks, as always, for responding.

Brian

[EDIT] Regarding tab placement: I'm fine with Discography being leftmost/default with Biography to the right of it, as well. In fact, I might even prefer that, personally, although i absolutely see why many/most people would prefer Biography to be leftmost/default with Discography being to the right of it. Either configuration is fine, so long as Overview is eliminated, with its contents moving to the far-rightmost 'Related' tab.
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Andy DeNardi

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I would love it if AMG added one more small column, text-only, after the Title but before the Label, titled "Type". It would simply be Studio or Live (seeing that compilations and singles and EPs have their own separate listings).

When looking at an ALL album listing in FULL mode, "album" or "comp" is displayed if there is no album cover graphic. It would be great if you could find a way to use that field to distinguish live albums as well. I could do without the graphics honestly.

My concern is that it can be difficult to tell if an album already in the database is a concert recording. My specialty is jazz, and there are many that make no mention of the fact anywhere that's obvious. So the listing would be wrong. In some cases, bad information is worse than none at all. But I'd still be willing to do it for all incoming albums.

using AMG for research or education. Which, let's face it, is the majority of your users
Sadly, I don't think we're the majority. I don't even believe that we are considered important. We're picky, and we know music as well as a lot of the AMG staff. We're trouble. To my eyes, AMG wants a site with information that can easily be ported to blogs, online retailers, and other music-oriented sites. They can get money from those people. Your everyday reader is a number that AMG can use to sell their information, bragging how many page hits they get. The reader comes to rely on AMG's data and is reassured to see it used on another site, validating that site as useful to them.

AMG's data is on so many sites that when they make a mistake, I find it hard to locate a site that has the correct information. The correction submission process is tedious, but that's a subject for another time. I think that AMG may want to consider a subscription service that allows researchers access to data in an orderly fashion without gimmicks and flashing ads. There is no better database. Discogs is crowdsourced and it's not doing the job effectively. Perhaps you can offer subscribers discount coupons for each correction or addition they submit. That would result in more accurate info to sell, make the subscribers feel important, and save them a few dollars. Allowing subscribers to write reviews would be helpful but problematic. If you do offer a subscriber service, make it cheap. Ten million at $10 a year is a decent chunk of change and better than a thousand at $50 a year.
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dan forte

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The thumbnail graphics next to CD titles, if that's what Andy is referring to, are useful, since there can be numerous So-&-So's Greatest Hits, or if the user knows an album by its cover but can't remember its title, etc.
As for: "using AMG for research or education. Which, let's face it, is the majority of your users. Sadly, I don't think we're the majority. I don't even believe that we are considered important. We're picky, and we know music as well as a lot of the AMG staff." – I think collectors and professionals (including journalists like myself), "researchers," ARE the majority, at least of users who return again and again. I don't think Florence & the Machine fans' first impulse would be to go to AMG for info. And, btw, the New Releases feature is obviously biased. Click on a recent month and click Country for genre, and you get one (1) entry. And it's extremely annoying when you're searching a specific genre, but every time you change the month it reverts to All Genres.
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Zac Johnson, Official Rep

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Hi Dan,
We have a wide variety of users, dedicated researchers digging into facts and release dates, and casual music fans looking for something new to check out or just digging into Florence + the Machine or Ornette Coleman for the first time.

We definitely think of our research/collector/archivist audience all of the time. The in-depth release information, catalog numbers, labels, sortable columns of ratings, labels, release dates, recording dates...these are not things that are of interest of most casual visitors.

We've built mechanisms to allow users to flip between list views and grid views, and enabled users to collapse discographies into a "just the facts, ma'am" list of album info with no graphics. These are functions explicitly built based on the requests and feedback from our researcher audience.

You are absolutely considered to be important.

Now, you may not agree with the decisions we've made in our layout, navigation and design, but we're trying to offer a site that bridges the needs of the casual fan and the music aficionado.

Some longtime users might look at the graphical layout or a discography with album art and wish the site was laid out more like a spreadsheet with labels and dates. Casual users might come to the site and wonder why we bother listing out-of-print releases or Billboard chart data from the '50s.

We've had a lot of users (here, via e-mail, on Twitter, on Facebook, on message boards) congratulating us on the design, and we've had a good number of folks who have issue or complaints with the initial choices we went out the door with. Nobody's requests are being dismissed, but we cannot act on all of them (certainly not in the 24 hours since we launched!)

Hopefully we can continue to refine the site for both audiences and find some middle ground where the researchers can find what they are looking for, and the new user can browse and discover on their way to become the next generations of music aficionados and crate diggers.