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Now That's What I Call Social Proof (earbits.com)
260 points by earbitscom on May 23, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments



Great story!

Also a quick bit of feedback, the only way to realise there's a music control is to get rid of the pop-up about the chrome app. At first I thought this was a bad version of thesixtyone where you couldn't skip tracks. Not the greatest UX for first time users.

And why is the difference in sound levels so bad. I had two songs, the difference in volume was very jarring. I'd link them but...

This brings me to another massive deal killer. The url doesn't change as the band does. I can't copy the address of the presently playing song. And I can't skip back to find out who I was just listening to. And there doesn't seem to be a history function.

What's the point in listening to new music if you can't listen to it again and share it? I'm probably a bit of an outlier though, I use that archaic thing called email or chat to share music.

Still, I like the ability to add myself to someone's mailing list straight from the app. I'll certainly be checking back here soon. Seems a bit more artist focused than the competitor I won't name again, which is always good.

EDIT: Also love the ability to dive into genres. Also, came off more negative than I meant it to, I do think it's off to a great start!


So to boil down your comments into easy points:

  1. kill the first-load chrome download bar (I don't want it until I know I like the service) or make it non-blocking
  2. use something like pushState (or location hash) to have all URLs always be referencing something useful (like the current song)
  3. a canonical share source (solved by point 2) rather than *just* social-network buttons
  4. add a "recently listened" thing of some sort
A few other ideas:

  5. add a "listening with XXX others" count (specific to artist/track), for social proof of a different kind :)
  6. add an "up next" with the option to skip
  7. channel combinations (might be possible already? but the ability to listen to post-rock + ambient-electro would be cool, might confuse the UX)
  8. nicer design.. it's ok at the moment but definite room for improvement.
2 cents provided, back to work!


The same points, formatted so the text actually appears on the screen:

1. kill the first-load chrome download bar (I don't want it until I know I like the service) or make it non-blocking

2. use something like pushState (or location hash) to have all URLs always be referencing something useful (like the current song)

3. a canonical share source (solved by point 2) rather than just social-network buttons

4. add a "recently listened" thing of some sort

5. add a "listening with XXX others" count (specific to artist/track), for social proof of a different kind :)

6. add an "up next" with the option to skip

7. channel combinations (might be possible already? but the ability to listen to post-rock + ambient-electro would be cool, might confuse the UX)

8. nicer design.. it's ok at the moment but definite room for improvement.


I agree with all of these points, and would like there to be a replay button.


Great feedback, almost all of which is in the works.


I agree with your feedback -- although I always close those pop-ups as soon as they appear, it shouldn't cover a crucial part of the UI like that.

I didn't get the sound level thing -- I know it's possible to batch-normalize sound files though, shouldn't be a massive thing for them to fix.

Agree with your other points. Hope the OP takes them on board, it's a site with massive potential!


Yes, after listening to a few more it was only one song that was especially quiet and I must have left my speakers turned up last night so didn't notice. It just so happened it was the first song I listened to.

It can be a problem with self-made indie music sometimes, not everyone realizes they should do a final mastering step that's pretty essential. A friend's band for example did the same thing and you end up just taking it off your rotation as it's irritating to have the sound level suddenly change on shuffle.


    find . -name "*.mp3" -exec mp3gain -r -p -c \{} \;
on unix will set the volume level for all mp3s below the current directory so that they sound similar. it sets metadata, so it doesn't change the signal itself (ie it's reversible).

as for the site linked - if you're going to have a blog about your business, have an easy-to-find link to the business on the same page (i couldn't find it and ended up editing the url).


It's slightly more complicated than that -- depending on how the track was compressed or limited you end up having to make a decision to apply that light compression/limiting (possibly altering how a musician wanted their track to be heard) or 'compromise' by lowering the volume of all tracks to give enough headroom for the especially quiet ones to be scaled up. The more 'uniform' you want your tracks to be, the more aggressive compression you have to apply.


But that is exactly how both Replay Gain and EBU R128 behave.

Initial set of conditions:

  - we want music to have uniform volume
  - we want louder parts be slightly louder
  - we want quieter parts be slightly quieter
In the end, over compressed songs are penalized. Songs that are recorded too quiet are pumped up. But it is a per song setting, leaving song to song progression on same level.

Here is a discussion on comparing how Replay Gain and EBU R128 algorithms http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=8642...


> In the end, over compressed songs are penalized.

OK, that's what I'm saying though. You can attach 'loudness scores' to songs all you want, but eventually you have to pump it through a fixed-range DAC and have to make some tradeoffs :).


I just clicked "click to listen" button.


Thanks, Matt. We have some technical reasons why we can't do that with the URL, or don't anyway. But if you want to share music in that manner, just click the tweet button and steal the URL from there.

Sorry about the volume issue. It happens so rarely that focusing on EQ hasn't been a priority.


I had the same issue with chrome. If I didn't know you were an HNer, I would have closed the window without giving it the effort. I wonder what your stats look like for first time visitors on chrome vs the other browsers?


Oh man. I tried it out for a little bit but gave up when I absolutely could not find any way to skip a track I didn't like. Never occurred to me that it might be hidden behind the popup.


So funny how the HN crowd has such a hard time with this when regular users seem to be doing just fine. ;)


I'm curious, how do you know that?


Because we haven't received a single complaint from users or seen any decline in the way people listen to or skip music since implementing that feature, and like 4 people here today complained about it. Not to mention, just generally there is a ton of new Feedbackify today complaining about things clearly for the sake of it.

Edit: One of the complaints is so golden that it's almost a blog post in itself, and the person said they came from HN.


I was wondering if there might be some sort of sampling bias at work. It sounds like it still might be, although you mostly have those bases covered. Specifically, people who already use the service know where the feature is, so they know what they need to get rid of to find it. Perhaps more importantly, they know that the feature exists, so they'll be more persistant in finding it. Not having/finding a skip feature is probably a dealbreaker (it certainly was for me, until I came back and saw this), so it would just manifest as some new people not sticking it out for very long.

But maybe that's not it. My other theory is that the less adept a computer user is, the less they're able to ignore popups like that. I've noticed that many less experienced computer users have an almost pathological need to get rid of any sort of dialog box, message, popup window, etc. More advanced users tend to just ignore anything that isn't directly interfering.


I think it's the latter, and there is definitely a possibility that it's a behavior in usage that makes the difference. But I don't think we should rule out that the HN crowd just likes to nitpick. ;)


I definitely couldn't find the skip control after quite a bit of looking. Maybe I just had a dumb moment, or it's due to how I approach these things, but mine, at least, wasn't due to nitpicking! Can't speak for anybody else, of course.


You seem to have missed the point, if you're an existing user you know the control is there.

If you're a new user you don't.


Just a little bit of feedback, in case OP is reading HN.

1) Nice.

2) Very much like thesixtyone.com, both in looks (although UI is more conventional) and in core idea, I may be wrong on the latter though.

3) The Chrome app promotion at the top tries to emulate native Chrome notification bar. A) This makes playback control unusable, especially for a newcomer who doesn't know where it is. B) One cannot hide the strip without either installing the app or dismissing the notification forever. (“Remind me later” button would fix that.) C) Third-party website trying to imitate security-related native browser UI elements is always suspicious. Maybe you should think of your own way to display service-wide broadcasts, like GitHub does.


+1 to #3. I didn't know there were controls behind that bar until I read this comment. It'd be better if it "pushed down" the page instead of covering the controls.


Another thing I noticed: The back button is almost entirely broken by the site (main site not the blog), it makes it very annoying to navigate.


I love the site and I really want to sign up to make an account with you. But I won't login with Facebook. I'd definitely compromise and login with Twitter, but to only use FB is an absolute dealbreaker


Understood, Joe. Just keep in mind that you don't need an account to keep using the site as long as you want.


As a going no where amateur artist of many years, whats the big changing the world pitch to artists? I really didn't get a sense for that on your about page or on the app.

Also your app does horrible things to any sense of navigational flow that's normal on a website - I get it's more like a media player, but I hate media players.


I had the same impression from going to the blog to the site, the line "Earbits is going to change the music industry and that the results we’re producing for bands are unparalleled" made me actually reconsider whether maybe the meeting was a set-up. It's just such an over the top line, and so patently untrue that it made me reconsider the character (or maybe the blinders) of the person writing the blog/founding this company.

And I will say that the design and interactions on thesixtyone.com were much much much nicer (which is especially notable for the two sites being so similar). But I did miss the ability to set up a preferred genre.


Never been to earbits site before. I just grokked its for listening to the music. Listening and then paying attention to who made the music, liking and sharing.

Its designed that way, so I get it that I need to press the button for genre and actually listen for something longer than 30 seconds (thus media player feel). Its what people really into discovering music probably are doing - spending their time feeding those sounds into their brains (and selecting newly discovered artist AND buying their music).

As per changing the music industry ("I just want to thank you for everything you do for independent artists."), it must be that artist do get discovered via the service (See prev. paragraph, I guess [my comment, not the article]). This 'function' is just not readily visible on the site. If this works that way, I would add I really like this 'magical', invisible twist in the service.


I gave it some thought, and I do think the genre radio and the curated artist profiles were interesting. Though it did't help that the genre's are great fits for the tracks I listened to, that does tend to happen with amateur music.

I guess the kind thing you want to see as an artist is a whole bunch of listens for an artist you think you can do better than. Or money.


"Though it did't help that the genre's are great fits for the tracks I listened to, that does tend to happen with amateur music."

You mean are not? :) It's interesting how many preconceptions we have - I mean, selecting 'ambient' I were prepared for getting fuzzy, 'not-exactly-what-i-call-ambient' stuff. Where in different kind of service (say, internet radio) I really want to get almost exactly what I mean by 'ambient'. Just part of a deal using such a service. Amazing how all this adds to perception of the service and its usability (and success or failure).

(If I ever write a book that will be about 'contexts'.) :)


Oops, certainly did. I think you're right, but my expectations were a bit a higher with the curated nature of the site.


The site is about discovery and we find that people are more excited to stretch just beyond the genre they chose than they are to get only the songs that narrowly fit the exact description. Most peoples' complaints about Pandora are that it's too narrow and plays the same music too much. We will often put a song that has ambient (or funk, R&B) elements into the channel, even if it's not straight ambient, and the rating of the song in that channel is still strong.


I can't argue with that. If you're tracking it and it works then I've learnt something that challenges my preconceptions.


I think the pitch is that it's a way for an artist to promote themselves while remaining independent (i.e. not tied to a label). The benefit for earbits is they're also not subject to the whims of the major labels that have plagued every other music service.


Regarding a website that doesn't act like a website: that's classic mistake #8:

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html

You can get away with it if a) you're doing something that really isn't a website (e.g., a game or a single-serving site), or b) your users come back an awful lot (e.g., Twitter).


Feedback: I saw "Login with Facebook" and thought "No thanks"


I just went to technical death metal and free jazz. It is a really nice selection of music subgenres.

(I did post a link on fb, but not the official reference. :-)

Point is, depending on their music selection size, I'll have a window open a long time (I'm not an expert on the internet radio stuff, but this seems good). Go use anononymous (edit: I meant -- in the web browser) if you really don't want to risk fb interaction.

Edit: My problem is having to turn on Flash.


I think anyone of us could easily identify ourselves with this situation. It's every founder's dream to build something people will love - money will come because of that and not vice versa.


Great story! Call it whatever you like, this shows how getting involved and getting out there creates these opportunities. Good luck with ear bits.


It used to be that I would try to avoid getting registered with most stuff on the web, because I'm paranoid that way. But now, if I like an app and do want to register, there is no sign-up button!

OP: Saw some pretty decent music there, but I assure you, not everyone is comfortable using only facebook to sign up on various web services. Especially here on HN, I imagine.


We use FB for now, but you don't need an account in order to use the site as much as you want. You're only really missing out on social features anyway.


Something similar happen to me with http://pixelcloud.com/

I was out in SF for the first time having a meeting with some interesting folks about Pixelcloud and after the meeting they decided to show me around SF and we ended up eating at a restaurant they picked. To my surprise the guy sitting right behind me had a Pixelcloud shirt on. We laughed and pretended the whole thing was staged even though there was no way possible.


Did you close him? a.b.c...


Not working for me, and somehow Google doesn't offer me a cache version.

Edit: probably blocked at work, since it's trying to load Twitter, Facebook and stuff. But I usually get to see the text in those cases.



Thank you :)


Actually, social proof would be if someone other than yourself submitted this story ;-)


Have you ever heard of Spotify? http://www.spotify.com It's a music streaming service with social sharing.




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