Beatport 2.0 Comments

Beatport is a fairly new online music store for dance/electronica, created by my favorite music software company.


The problem is that Beatport — in it’s current state — sucks pretty badly. Since I’m such a fan of their music production software, and since they actually sponsor me with products, I thought I should give them some honest feedback from a consumer/web developer point of view. And to really make them hurry up with implementing my proposed changes, I publish the mail I wrote to them here:

I greatly appreciate the beatport initiative. There is a huge demand for good online stores for electronic music and dance music.

Beatport got even better with the recent 2.0 release, but I still feel it didn’t address some of its most important inherent problems. I’m probably quite an optimal customer — I love electronic music and mp3s, and I’ve got a credit card loaded with money to spend on good music! Even so, I got fairly frustrated when trying to use your store the other day. So I though I’d better give you some comments and advice, from a developer’s and customer’s point of view.

1) I quickly discovered a track on beatport that I wanted to point a friend to. Too bad it turns out there is no way of doing so! There seem to be no permanent, unique links attached to each track/release/artist/label! That effectively shuts out the whole community of people who put up their thoughts online and who pass valuable links to each other (bloggers 20m+, special interest groups etc) which in turn has a sizable impact on your sales! Recent research shows that this community is indeed very important for online stores, and to neglect its existence is arguably a very stupid business decision.

Don’t believe me? Read this.

Talking about links, I believe they should be pretty. That is: or is much better than id=23967764234&viewmode=artist&a=photek

Also bidirectional links (a.k.a. trackbacks) are nice (and the main reason why blogs work). Let users trackback, rate and comment on the beatport releases and your sales would increase, maybe double.

2) After I signed up on beatport, I started getting annoying news mails with long ‘top lists’ of tracks that didn’t interest me. please provide a number of rss-feeds for relevant topics instead (new releases in each genre, new releases by a specific label etc). Think about building a recommendation system.

3) It doesn’t remember my username, and it doesn’t keep me logged in (by using a cookie).

4) Improve the search function. Not my intention to sound rude, but it is broken as it stands today.

4) Lastly, it is still my opinion that Flash sucks. It’s a good idea, but given the implementation and the current state of the web, it sucks. And I’m not saying this because I don’t know how Flash works nor because I never worked with it. On the contrary, I did a few projects with Flash and I’ve learned to appreciate it for some tasks, but *far* from all.

Needless to say, I was quite disappointed when I loaded up beatport 2.0 for the first time and realized that now *everything* is Flash. (it is still better than the godforsaken flash-multi-framesets it replaced though.)

But it still sucks, for the following reasons (among others):

  • The GUI doesn’t fit on my screen (1024*768 12” powerbook), so I have to scroll up and down constantly.
  • It doesn’t flex, and there is no way of using the keyboard for navigation. very frustrating, especially when browsing long lists of artists.
  • It does away with the whole browser interface paradigm, in effect creating a new application within the application (that means re-learning the navigation, back buttons etc.)
  • You lose the benefits of standard things that web browsers do for you (like remembering usernames, passwords on sites, there goes another part of your sales, due to users who forgot their passwords. You can’t search the page for info, something people who search for e.g. a track on the web often do — and you can’t bookmark things. Bookmark?!! Yes, bookmarks are coming back in a big way, I’m using myself. )
  • search engines won’t index your catalog
  • It’s slow and buggy on Firefox for Mac OS X (yes, even with the latest plugin) and it doesn’t work well on Linux.

Here I’d like to put in a good word for simple no-frames XHTML+CSS with a bunch of nifty javascripting on top. Nowadays all major browsers support background loading of data (used to be one of the major advantages of using Flash). Since you are only using pixelated graphics (the text is usually annoyingly small, and there is no way of changing that, again due to Flash), users would hardly notice the change in terms of visual experience. In fact there is hardly nothing you couldn’t do with HTML (provided you are using a nice server technology like j2ee or so) that you are doing with your Flash app now (yes, you could still use a little flash-applet for the track preview-thingie).

All in all, I think beatport is a great initiative — I surely hope I didn’t sound too negative! I really like your other products (already eagerly awaiting the new Kontakt 2.0 release, which seems brilliant).

So finally, I wish you good luck with the future development of, and I really hope you take some of my views into account!”