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Show HN: 2u.fm is a social music discovery site, my side project for over a year (2u.fm)
121 points by nwienert on Dec 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 85 comments



It seems that for every post I read about someone's awesome project there are 5-6 people saying "Your idea sucks, why'd you waste your time"

Guys, do yourself a favor and don't post these comments. You're not sharing any profound insights, you're just compensating for some insecurity you have.

In OP's case, I don't especially think he cares whether you thought his idea was the next Google. I base this on the fact that: A.) The site is already mature and B.) title says "my side project for over a year" -- so like, 1 year later, your negative comment is going to change his mind? Yeah, I doubt it.

If you put a year of effort into a nice webapp like OPs, you will have users, and people will enjoy your service. Also, this site is very impressive, and makes a good portfolio piece for sure.

I don't know if anyone is maybe getting the wrong idea. Personally, I don't click Show HN and then pretend to be PG interviewing the guy for a seed round. I click Show HN's to see cool stuff.

If you like it, then try it, use it, whatever. But if you don't have anything constructive to say, then you're wasting everyone's time, including your own.


I must sympathize with both sides:

I get what some users mean when they criticize projects in this manner. They're saying, "You're so smart and this is all you came up with?" It's not so much an insult as it is disappointment of a talented person. Their mentality is "If I had your talent, I wouldn't have wasted my time on this."

But it's important to understand that the whole purpose of side projects is to take a journey, learn, experience, and try out random things. It's impossible to tell accurately weather a project succeeds or not so you have to try.

I'm sure if Sergey Brin and Larry Page submitted their Google prototype on HN it would have been met with "Why? There's already Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, Lycos, Alta Vista... they do search and they're established, Page Rank is just a feature. What's stopping Lycos or Alta Vista from implimenting their own Page Rank algorithm?". Twitter would have been met with "Only 140 characters? That's not going to get anywhere". (all things that a VC would say)

I blame this on Hacker News (emphasis on HACKER) having more startup news than projects, inventions, designs, code samples, and hacking articles. The emphasis on success starts to drown out the emphasis on coding for fun even if you fail. Oddly enough in the Mixergy.com interview with Paul Graham. At exactly 49:40 Paul says, "[hacker news] was originally called startup news but after 6 months we changed it to hacker news cause we got sick of reading about nothing but startup stuff."


Hilarious point about what HN would have said about Google.


Thank you for posting this.


It's a cool site, and an amazing accomplishment for a side project, but I really, really have to ask: why did you spend your time building something to add to the hyper-saturated, money black hole that is the music listening/discovery app market? I mean, there are, and have been so many sites like this that have either survived on the border of illegality or have been shut down. And we've got a whole host of above-board legal streaming sites now that are dirt cheap and have a wide variety of music to listen to. What's new here and why should I consider using it? Why will this be around in 6 months and not just die after you run out of money to keep it up or get sued? I'm not asking this to be a dick but I really don't understand why I see a new one of these sites get released every few months that seems to do the same thing as all the others except is free (and probably illegal) or thinks that slightly better music recommendations or "social listening" is a sustainable competitive advantage.

edit: Ok, read your blog post, but I guess my question still stands. The improvements you list are fairly marginal improvements over existing stuff IMHO and it seems mildly crazy to put in so much effort to replicate existing sites but add things like responsive design or slightly better Facebook integration. Good luck and I hope you end up turning this into an amazing success so if you can turn me into a believer I am listening :)


Sideprojects are usually about learning new things + following your passion.

I absolutely LOVE music. Its like air to me. I dont go more than 10 minutse without a song on my stereo or headphones. I also absolutely love to code, and constantly want to find new ways to get excited about learning how to code.

I think a passion for music correlates w/ the coder mentality pretty frequently. Thats why you see so many efforts aligned with that trend if you ask me.


I've paid for LastFM, Spotify, Rdio and Slacker Radio throughout the years and used all types of various other free services. I still try every single new music discovery app out there because, guess what, there's always more music to discover and more ways to do it. Each of these services have introduced me to new music I wouldn't have found without it, and that's all that matters to me. The different UIs make us think about how we search for and navigate through this data, so if we were to make our own, we know what works and what doesn't.

I don't understand the mindset that someone built someone that "has already been done". If this is the type of tool that motivated OP to build this and continue working on it, that's all that matters. There's always room to improve these services and hone your skills.


I get what you're saying but I don't feel like there are a lot of websites to discover music.

Besides hypem, pitchfork and sixtyone do you anymore? And I think they could greatly be improved. Music Discovery is a new thing, before we just had the radio, and it's still not as good as it could be.


I pay for and use MOG and their recommendations are pretty good. Certainly this could be the case that "everything sucks I am going to execute better than everyone" but it's a sexy problem (not a schlep) and everyone seems to be working on it.


Their recommendations use Echonest, and as far as I know so do Rdio and Spotify. You can access those recommendations via an API for free!


Spotify does not use Echonest for recommendations.



For recommendations, we use our own algorithms. For radio, we use Echonest in some cases, but mostly our own stuff.


There are several sites for music discovery (Boss.dj, Earbits, Beastmode.fm, ex.fm, We Are Hunted to name a few)

Agreed there are a lot of holes in the music discovery experience, I've yet to see a solution that really nails it


Out of curiosity, how do you find out about these sites? Up until now the only one I knew about was Indie-specific (Mixest) and Grooveshark


I think that what we're seeing is actually just one service being repackaged as many. Echonest provides the data supporting all of these services, so it makes sense that they all look very similar and that there is no remarkable difference in quality from one to the next. However, even with this saturation there actually are a lot of successful music discovery services, so not really a money black hole. http://musicmachinery.com/2012/12/02/music_discovery_is_not_...


This is just plain wrong... the only thing I get from echonest is artist genres, nothing else.


Oh interesting, did you build your own collaborative filtering engine? or are the artist recommendations from somewhere else?

I'm sorry if I came off as a snob, I intended that to be really a direct reply to gfodor and not as an attack on 2u.fm.


more than that, it appears to just be a copy of ex.fm (http://ex.fm) - i can't see much of a difference


I've responded to one of your 4 other comments on ex.fm with a bunch of reasons why it's different, despite the trolling.


Nice work! It's impressive you were able to stick with a side project of this caliber for over a year without giving up or remaining in the feature abyss.

This app works really well for music discovery. I just found a Mumford and Sons track I've never heard before, and I thought I had listened to them all. Solid UX touch by never stopping my music when I move around to different pages too.

Where are you pulling the songs from? Youtube and Soundcloud?

Just FYI - I wanted to skip through a song to see if it was any good, and I couldn't find the progress bar at the bottom. It took my awhile to realize it was at the top. If I'm not mistaken, most music sites have the progress bar at the bottom of the screen (Rdio, Spotify, GrooveShark). Pandora has it at the top though so perhaps I'm wrong.


Pulling from blogs that post mp3's or soundcloud. It indexes youtube but I can't play youtube without showing the video. A video's section is on the plate for the next release. Thanks for the feedback, the responsive design has the progress bar at the bottom, though I prefer it all on top.


Where do you source your blogs?


For anyone looking for a little more insight into the whys and hows of the site:

http://natewienert.com/introducing-2u-dot-fm-1


I'm a little confused on your use of both genres and tags. For the former, how are they determined? Just in a database, pre-decided by you?


Yes, and they need expansion certainly. I get artist genres through EchoNest and plan to expand my genres to match theirs.


Looks like a much more slick version of HypeMachine (www.hypem.com), which I've been using for years. Competition is never a bad thing, so this is great, I'll be trying it out.

Very well done for a "side project".


it's more of a copy of ex.fm (http://ex.fm) than a slicker hype machine. ex.fm has been around a few years now too.


Yea but if they mainly aggregate music blogs, then it's more in line with hypem.com.


ex.fm is a music blog aggregator: http://ex.fm/about


Thanks to your spam I will never ever use ex.fm.


This is what stands out for me:

"Live listening. While I decided to hide most of the UX I had worked on for launch due to it not being fully baked, if you're friends with someone and you see them "online" in your friends list, you can tune into what they are listening to in real time, and listen to music fully synced together. If they change a song, you change too! This is certainly alpha at this point though, but it generally works."

For those who are into 'social' listening, it's worth having a play around with.


This is what excited me too. Elements of TurntableFM-like 'social listening' might be interesting in a new environment.


again, ex.fm has had this for some time: http://blog.ex.fm/post/24082043603/featured-feature-listenin...


This is live listening across an entire session, plus live instant sharing when you find one you like. You follow their every song, through playlists or different pages, and it's in sync to the second.


This is fantastic. The UI is wonderful, site design is responsive, and from what I've found so far it has great content. Kudos for you for committing the time to building such a major project and finally shipping.

Initial feedback (major to minor):

- Please add a button to let me add songs in my feed to a queue rather than cutting off the current song.

- There's a bug where, for some reason, the modal popup that I used to sign up / add artists is still capturing mouse events even though it is now invisible. It's taking away my ability to click in the middle of the screen, which is very frustrating cause I can't use search. Not sure why this is happening. It's Z-index is 201 and opacity set to 0 via CSS, if that helps, and I logged in with Facebook.

- My screen is small (11" Air), and some parts of the site are cut off height-wise. For example, the left nav bar's "find friends" button.

- When I click on a new song, the artist in the top bar updates immediately, but the title takes a few seconds.

- All of the letters in the colored boxes next to song names are too far to the right by one pixel.

Again, congratulations on shipping! I'd be happy to provide more feedback if you're interested.


- When hovering over the left side menu items, I would highlight the text into a much lighter font color--I was already expecting it to happen (and anticipating the eye candy) from all the other apps I've used that do that.


Thanks for all the feedback and kind words, I will look into them!


I love the recommendations straight at the top, already found some really cools stuff.

As regard to the genres: if you're to expand them, I would love to see genres like Disco (not 80s but happy techno, see 22tracks.com), Relax (lounge) and Techno (Kalkbrenner style)

I'm from Amsterdam so might have some different tastes when it comes to dance music :)

All in all, a super cool (side) project! Thanks!


This is the most impressive side project I have ever seen. Everything feels polished, the UI is delicious and the site works and functions very quickly. Very nice work, I would love to know what programming language you built this in perhaps another blog post detailing the tech side of things?


Really like how this looks and feels. Interested in the blogs section, how are you grabbing that info? Thats the part I would likely use the most, picking out the few hip hop blogs I go to regularly and just getting to the music quicker.


That looks great, but I would default with the red on red color scheme (which can be changed by hovering over the logo). As a designer, I find it much more eye catching, which helps pique interest in first-time visitors.

Also, two minor interface issues: your hover tooltip arrows don't point directly at the "Playlist" and "Me" icons at the top right. Also, the genre list in the sidebar would benefit from a Google+/Facebook style minimalist scroll bar. It wouldn't clutter the feel much, especially if it appeared only on hover, and would make it easier on people without a mouse wheel.

Outside of those very minor issues, this looks great!


Very impressed with this and love the concept. One suggestion: I think this just screams mobile app. I want this on my iPhone and think being able to cache playlists and listen to them while I'm on the go would be incredible.


Hey, love the site, ui is smooth, responsive, and data seems to be loading really fast. Incredibly polished. Do you mind sharing what technologies/frameworks you're using in your stack?


Nicely done, but I would seriously consider updating your daily limit. I did not have nearly enough time to play around to consider converting as a registered user (I was clicking around). I ended up just deleted the site cookies, went into inspect elements and deleted the modal but I am not your average user and most people wouldn't do that to continue testing out your site, let alone know it could be done.

After all that, I am pretty certain I will continue to use your app. Nice job!


I'm particularly impressed with the responsive design. Did you use one of the responsive frameworks out there, serve different stylesheets, or something else?


Thank you. It's hand rolled, no grid system or anything too fancy either just unfloats a few things and styling on the header/player.


For a side project I will say I am definitely impressed. The layout is cool, and the design/gui is amazing! I hope this site does well, don't worry about people telling you the music space is too crowded. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Point is you had fun doing it and hopefully learned a few things along the way. Congratulations to you.


Add a 'mix' category and I'll pay you if it's done well! New tracks are all well and good, but the continuity of mixes really helps me get in the groove.

I've listened to the Essential Mixes, and follow a bunch of podcasts/dj radio shows, but there's got to be stuff from non-DI.fm/Sirius-XM stuff. Sheepymixes on youtube would be a good example.


Love the idea. Shouldn't be too hard to do.


Looks nice, seems to be some good tracks.

Hypem's downfall (in my opinion) was the point where the frontpage started being bombarded with Kanye West songs. Songs like that don't need to be 'discovered', as they're already jammed into our ears at every opportunity mainstream media has. Hopefully 2U can keep a good balance.

Well done nwienert, great launch.


Impressive-- it's incredibly polished and professional looking, especially for something you call a "side project" :)


Very impressive. I don't use music discovery sites at all but your single-handed ability to conceive, design, and build a project of this quality is inspirational. I'll be keeping an eye on you for a while yet.

What sort of file quality are you looking for from music blog applicants? Can you scrape files out of ZIP archives?


You should disable the app once the limit is reached. Simply inspecting the modal/overlay in chrome or firebug will let you delete the node and continue to use the app without ever logging in/signing up.


I see some code in the 1st artist bio: http://i.imgur.com/1DtB5.png

Otherwise, very neat site. I don't think there can be too many music exploration sites.


Great job on the site. Really loving the UI overall UX. One small thing is that I kept clicking on the waveform visualization to scrub the track--probably since i've used to soundcloud and such.


Nice work, nice layout and UI/UX ... Very impressive for a side project.


This looks fantastic. Nothing will play for me, but that's not too surprising since I have neither Flash nor support for MP3s in <audio>. Just curious, which of the two does it use?


Works great and I've even got a flash blocker. BTW, are you using sound manager 2?

- I strongly advise you to round the corners of buttons with border-radius:3px; so they look more clickable.


Looks really great. Just a thing I noticed, when you need to log in and click on the or log in without facebook link, the link persists and toggles back for some reason.


This site is great.

My attempt (less cooler in comparison) at scraping hypemachine is here: http://metahypem.com


Wow.. it looks really amazing! Love it :)


This looks really nice.

What technology do you use? Where are the songs playing from? Looks like all soundcloud?


Wrote a bit about it on my blog: http://natewienert.com/introducing-2u-dot-fm-1

"The stack consists of Ruby on Rails with Postgres, Thin, Nginx, Memcached (with Dalli), DelayedJob, and some other parts. The frontend is hand rolled using Bootstrap, SoundManager2 with a custom music player wrapper, and some minor plugins.

The live listening is running through an instance of Thin running Faye and PrivatePub."

Songs are also found through regular mp3's on sites, along with SoundCloud.


Nice work Nate! Don't listen to the haters and keep on building what you are stoked about.


I'm unable to change my password.

When attempting to do so I see

"Current password can't be blank" despite it not being blank.


Looks nice. I wonder what will be your next step for 2u.fm. I will be trying it out.


If this is free and ad free, how do you pay the royalties to the artists?


It would be nice if we could import our iTunes artists as followers.


Very good. Found some Led Zeppelin I hadn't listened to for a while.


something seems off here:

http://d.pr/i/WPer (screenshot of app with javascript errors on page)


Very nice, why no metal as a category?


This is super impressive. Congrats!


looks great in the iphone. teeniest bit of left/right scrolling is my only nitpick ;)


Our only works in modern browsers


of course?


Well, aside from the fact that I'm on IE9, there is a typo in the text.


hey congrats on the hard work, but this really seems like a clone of ex.fm (http://ex.fm) and a remarkably similar clone at that - what is different about 2u.fm?


Four comments and links about me cloning them... do you have something personal going on here? One would have been enough. Seems pretty mean spirited to me. There are plenty of things different, biggest being real artist profiles not just a search, filtering by music type on artists, a filtered feed, instant sharing and an inbox, algorithms filter genres by a lot of factors and ways to organize those feeds, responsive design.... I wasn't going to comment until I saw all four or five of your links in here.


This is awesome!


There is some bug in this song showing Javascript code instead of the description: http://2u.fm/genres/classic-rock#song-38265

Pretty nice site; would be nice to be able to login using Twitter.


Nice concept, but find mostly crapy remixes. I couldn't find even the most popular artists (One Republic, Adele). All of "their" songs are remixes, even those marked as originals..


Within 10 minutes you've managed to listen to enough songs to judge they are "mostly crappy remixes"? I'm working on expanding the selection, I'm sure that will be a big point of feedback, but no need to make such a negative snap judgement.


I think you're being a little protective here. How much time do you expect the average user is going to give you? I can promise you it's not 10 minutes. You're being somewhat childish, IMO, by not recognizing that this guy took 10 frigging minutes out of his time to check out your site. Thank him, take note of the feedback, and move on. You will get feedback all the time from people you don't agree with but that's not a reason to be so quick to act this way. I hardly think a 10 minute website look is a "snap judgement".

You might want to check out this post: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/10/judging-websites.ht...


First, there is and was on launch both One Republic and Adele on the site. And all of their songs are tagged correctly. Also he commented within 10 minutes of me posting it so including time see the post, listen to songs, and write the comment was certainly almost none especially considering this HN which is a place that has rules for quality of comments and good discussion.

I judged his feedback unnecessary and negative, not anything personal, which is more to say than what you did. I've read that post and thats talking about someone judging 300 sites not one.




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