Damn you, Indecision!

Yahoo Music Unlimited: Mind Map Edition

As I did with the Sansa Connect review, I’m going to give you guys a mind-mapped version of the ideas I took note of for Yahoo Music Unlimited subscription service.  I tried to keep it focused on the subscription service itself, but some elements of integration with the Sansa Connect cropped up.  I’ll try to come back to this review and flesh it out in actual paragraphs and stuff, but for now, here’s the mind dump:

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  • Hard to just browse store catalog on PC
    • Genre layout not intuitive
    • Sparse
    • Had to drill down too many levels in genres
      • Example: alternative was a sub-genre under the “main” genre of rock
    • Didn’t look as “professional” as other online services
  • Yahoo Jukebox client is awful
    • Bloated
    • Slow
    • Crashed a lot
    • Store front looked blah
  • Slow syncing to device
    • This is mainly due to Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) v. USB Mass Storage (UMS)
    • Timed transferring a playlist of podcasts to the Sansa Connect and to the iPod, and the Connect took at least 2x as long, using Yahoo Jukebox, Windows Media Player, and Mediamonkey (all sw that handle MTP devices).
  • Stream v. subscription tracks
    • If auto-syncing tracks to device, software should have the sense to skip over tracks deemed “streaming only”!
      • If software won’t handle it automatically, should offer configuration option to filter out streaming only tracks from being added to local music library so that they don’t “muck up” the library for your portable device.
    • If there is an issue with licensing for certain tracks, software should take care of fixing the problem, transparent to the user.
      • Had issue where a long list of tracks had licensing issue. Was told in an error dialog to right-click on each track to retry license (or whatever). Like I’m going to do that for a list of 20 tracks!
    • Licensing errors made automatically syncing the whole “My Music” library to the Sansa Connect painful. The software kept choking on certain tracks, either due to perceived dupes, or perceived licensing issues. Eventually because of all of the app crashes, my PC didn’t even recognize the Connect when it was plugged into a USB port. Had to clear out all downloaded tracks on PC and device, and uninstall and reinstall Jukebox software.  Then start over with no automatic syncing to portable to get things working again.
  • No integrated podcatching functionality
    • Probably not that important to most users, but since I listen to podcast more than I listen to music (at the moment), this is an important feature for me to have. So far no other mp3 player I’ve tried beats iPod + iTunes in this respect.
  • Link to LAUNCHCast radio stations is good
    • Zing Menu
      • Great to be able to get “like this song” mixes when listening to radio stations or music locally on device
      • Allows user to easily download the song or album currently playing
      • Songs download in background and didn’t seem to affect streaming or playback much at all
      • Can get recommendations from friends, or recommend songs to others
        • Yahoo Messenger
        • Nearby Sansa Connects
      • Subscription allows user to download related tracks, if available
  • Problems with dupes
    • Example: U2 18 best singles album had same tracks as a different U2 album, and as a result it seems that the “overlapping” tracks were interpreted as dupes (WHY?).
    • Had issue where error dialog popped up asking if I wanted to replace a certain track with the same version; software kept hanging because I chose no. When I finally chose yes, it was able to complete the library update. Error handling was pretty poor.
  • Unknown genres for some tracks?
    • I noticed that a bunch of the downloaded subscription tracks had unknown genres in the ID3 tags. VERY sloppy.
  • Generally like the idea of music subscription
    • Fickle music tastes means I get tired of listening to certain stuff pretty quickly
    • Allows me to explore other artists without “risking” buying an album I don’t like
    • Easy to download “one-hit wonders” or nostalgic tracks without worrying that may have already bought the album (but can’t easily find it around the house) and am wasting money
    • Make “transient” mixes for parties or entertaining
    • Listen to “guilty pleasure” songs/artists to get it out of my system. 🙂
    • Not sure how filled out YMU library is compared to competing services
  • Subscription limitations
    • Song previews were inconsistent
      • Some songs didn’t have any previews!
        • This is totally ridiculous, especially when the same album(s) on different retailers like iTunes or Amazon had 30-sec previews. This just forces/encourages people to go elsewhere to preview the songs, which could lead to them buying the tracks/album wherever they could preview the music (example: soundtrack to Stranger than Fiction)
      • Some songs only had 30-sec previews
      • Some songs could be played fully
    • Some songs/albums were marked as streaming only
    • Some songs/albums weren’t available at all for streaming or subscription, only purchase
    • Inconsistency makes the overall experience frustrating, especially when there isn’t an apparent reason for why certain albums are unavailable for subscription access. Subscription access should apply to ALL of the tracks available in YMU.

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2 responses

  1. I agree with most of everything you said. Yahoo basically needs to dump that client and write a new one from scratch. It seems it hasn’t been updated in years.
    I’m familiar with the re-licensing issues and Urge was able to handle that better. It basically updates the licenses in the background. In all the services in the early days, re-licensing tracks was a major PITA.
    As for your rants on the subscription limitations, that’s basically the fault of the record labels. Sometimes they leave certain tracks off the album and deem it ‘buy only’. Very frustrating.
    Out of all the subscription clients, Yahoo’s is probably the worst.
    Urge uses WMP which is huge and bloated in the first place but the entire experience is much better.
    Which brings me back to the Sansa. I’m hoping I won’t need to use the client much at all now that I can access Yahoo’s library from the device.

    April 13, 2007 at 1:13 pm

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