Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Yahoo Music - First Look (UPDATED)

Yahoo Music - First Look

UPDATED: Yahoo and/or MusicNet obviously realized their false start this morning and have subsequently fixed many of the issues that I reported.

Conceptually, I like where they are *trying* to go. I've made no secret of my belief that community, IM integration and passive recommendations/playlisting as being the key to creating a compelling and differentiated music service. Yahoo seems to have all the pieces to make it work, particularly with the pending Yahoo! 360 service (see previous posts). But as of now, my list of issues with the service is that it simply doesn't work (yet):

* Requires a 30+MB client download that seems to effectively be just a skinned version of Windows Media Player.

* Requires a reboot after installation... I hate that.

* While I like that fact that it will import (and play) content downloaded from other subscription services (e.g. Napster to Go), there is no visual indication to help identify which content was downloaded from which service. This will be a user migration issue for those coming from Napster or Rhapsody since I don't believe the licenses for those files will get renewed once they stop the competitive subscription. Update: I take it back, they do have a field that identifies "subscription" versus "imported" music.

* Syncing doesn't work with my Audiovox SMT5600 ("Plays for Sure" smartphone) with any content that I downloaded from Yahoo. Interestingly, the YME (Yahoo Music Engine) software will transfer content that I downloaded with the Napster to Go service. Update: Fixed.

* Streaming (either from Yahoo or from my buddies' playlists) does not work. Update: Streaming seems to be working now.

* Playlist creation doesn't seem to be supported yet. Update: Now seems to be working.

* Downloading/playing content worked fine for me although others I know have reported license acquisition errors when trying to do so.

* I did have the application freeze on me a couple of times that required a forced application close to escape from.

The funny (or sad) thing is that most of these issues seem to be with their Musicnet backend system. As I dig further into it I will post again...

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