Friday, February 19, 2010

James (of thesixtyone) responds

I saw this post from James the other day, and thought I'd share it with you all. It's from the something awful forums (warning: you might need an account to read it), in a thread he started awhile back to promote

"hi everyone, sorry for neglecting this thread for so long. while it's never fun to read critical feedback, i do appreciate the fact that people have taken the time to share their concerns and wanted to let it be known that i am reading.

to clarify a few things:

- i took a small investment last spring so i could hire our third person to help on a new mobile project.

- i shut off facebook comments because it had basically come down to the same 50 people (a few of whom actually work at other music sites) writing the same nasty message everyday and facebook has really poor admin tools...i'm all for feedback, but it needs to be constructive for anything to get done. note that i never removed comments and purposely left the comments section open for about 2 weeks after the new design was released.

- like most 3rd party services, alexa is terribly off target. quantcast is also wrong as we removed the measurement code last month. quantcast was a requirement from our advertisers, and it doesn't make sense to keep it around now that i've taken all of the ads off thesixtyone.

- our current implementation of groups/channels is computationally intensive and couldn't scale. we have some good ideas for improving performance and actually improving the user experience. it's only just occurred to me how crappy this must feel for those participating in the goon group. i feel bad about this.

- i know that change sucks for some. heck, my partner, sam, had a hell of time adjusting for the first two weeks...but, at the end of the day, i felt an obligation to continue to push the envelope for music discovery and was prepared to fail outright rather than sit comfortable with a subpar yet familiar music experience.

all i can really say for now is that i promise that things will only get better, that i'm aware of the distress, and that i've got something to prove."

"The goon group" he's referring to is The Goons, a music group on thesixtyone, for members of the Something Awful forums. When someone asked why he changed the site, he replied:

"Simplicity. I had furiously bolted on features over the last 12 months as I experimented with how people explore music. Anything that didn't fit the core experience was cut."

Now, on one hand I've got to hand it to him for going back to a thread where people were criticizing him. But really, some of his points don't make any sense. A lot of the Facebook commenters were artists and listeners who had no affiliations with other music sites, and who spent a lot of time and money on the site and were confused and angry due to the sudden change. It also doesn't address his puzzling blog post. If he wants to do damage control, it's a bit late, as he should have started doing it on day 1. What do you think?


  1. Dreadful revamp of a nice site.
    as a musician I'm keen to delete my profile asap.
    A totally arrogant move - I can only surmise that the people running it are arrogant & don't give a monkey's...

  2. He is still avoiding many of the important questions. Every action he did since the redesign is does not smell good and this one is not an exception as well. Maybe damaging control is really too late by now... poor arrogant james.

    The new design can be anything except simple. So "simplicity" sounds like a great excuse but hell no, it doesn't apply here. Thus it wouldn't be enough to justify all the arrogance they've been showing up lately and the music manipulation they've been doing.

    T61 is dead and it's not only the goons who are suffering from that. Everyone is - with a few exceptions but these ones are barely using the new format.

    I think the final move of the site will happen when they turn the old design off. I'm surely waiting this to happen as soon as possible and let the numbers talk for themselves, right?

  3. I have to agree with radiomovies and rafaelbrandao, James doesn't get it at all. This proves he doesn't understand "was prepared to fail outright rather than sit comfortable with a subpar yet familiar music experience." had ingenious layout, design, community, and discoverability. This whole thing is only about how he wants to make the site look flashy, which he doesn't understand that some people think flashy = trashy.

    James, the site was a beautiful clean design with great features. You have ruined this, and I am still following the story in hopes that someday you will retract the eye sore you have created.

    When you mentioned the fact that you hired on a mobile developer, I had thought that from the start. Your website looks like an iphone app. Which is also trashy.

    As far as your analytic data on Alexa and Quantcast, I've been following it, I work with that kind of information, and it doesn't lie. We know you are losing members at an alarming rate, and killing your site over pride will not make anything better for you, admit it was a failed experiment.

    ps: your new design looks like a iphone apple fanboy piece of crap.


  4. Aw c'mon @kwasmosis. Us apple iphone fanboys hate the new thesixtyone design too.

  5. If you want to destroy a community, make everyone seem alone.

    This is a perfect example of a site developer who didn't know what they had. I was part of a project a few years ago that got a load of money to revamp their social site. The new CEO wanted to expand the demo as it was solely targeted to highschool users. In the process of changing the site they ended up removing all the features that mattered, removed all the social tools that allowed for interaction and in its place put a bunch of "Pretty" sites that never changed. After a few weeks the new site was totally stale and there wasn't any movement to the site. The worst part was that you could never get a sense of what was going on on the site. If you want to destroy a community, make everyone seem alone.
    WE did it, and it has taken 5 years to recoup the messup and the original group of users is gone. I'm sure t61 is still learning this lesson. Who knows if it will ever go back to its previous glory.

  6. This morning James and Sam effectively isolated all listeners and musicians from each other on thesixtyone. You can no longer comment on a song. You can no longer see who has hearted a song. You can no longer find similar songs. You can no longer access your playlists or the playlists of others. You can't even access your OWN "discoveries" and "achievements" pages, and you can only see the first page of the songs YOU'VE hearted (can't go to page 2 or beyond). You can no longer find out if any of your friends are around -- unless you go to their individual page -- and then you can no longer post a note on their wall.

    I continued to listen to the OLD t61 even though a lot of the formerly great features were discontinued. But right now the wind is howling in a desert, and I am totally isolated and alone. I might as well be listening to broadcast radio over the airwaves.... It makes me very sad to lose something so wonderful as the OLD t61. Sam and James may well have dealt the coup de grâce the spells the death of t61.

  7. fact : on the new t61 you can't type the word "uvumi" into any song comment or on your group ("channel") wall. try it. how pathetic is that? but if you type "u v u m i" it works. nice try, boys.

  8. Looks like they're getting desperate. I don't feel sorry for them. Even if they went back to what they had before, I wouldn't go back. Crash and burn baby.

  9. I have now deleted all my artist accounts and will now remove my user profile as well. I prefer to not have my name or names associated with that failure of a site.

    Sam and James have no idea how good that site really was. Pity it has to turn into a vacant dust bowl.

  10. the top of his blog pretty tells you what he thinks of us :

    formspring him and ask him "wtf?"

  11. I actually respect a decision to push the envelope and try new things. But I just don't understand the rationale behind not giving a shit about your supporters.

    James' response above isn't even really damage control (way too late for that anyway). He's basically just writing off the negative response as a few angry trolls, and defending the site traffic though it's obvious it's way down.

    I actually feel kinda bad for them. It's clear they have no marketing skills. At least this will go down as a case study in how not to launch a new product.

    Oh well...

  12. Thanks for commenting, everyone. I still can't believe they blocked the word "uvumi" from the site entirely. And that quote--"just because you like my stuff doesn't mean i owe you anything." Wow. Just wow.

  13. as a musician from the iuma days...good things never last...but let us move on together...thanks to all for showing me and others UVUMI time will tell but for now let us make that our home! Matt from The Living Modern


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