Bad Interfaces – eMusic Getting it Wrong


Pirate Flag!

Times have just got to change. I’m a little sick of living in a world that is regionalise into sales and licencing zones for no real reason besides to restrict sales due to some arcane money grubbing corporate policy.

What makes matters worse is people building experiences that highlight this and rub our face in it time and time again!

I regularly buy music online from various places, I tend to favour non DRM music, or if I can buy directly from the artist which is even better – I don’t like iTunes much at all.

Now eMusic, which I use, have recently redesigned and tweaked their user interface  towards a very strongly  recommendation engine based sales model.  Now I have no issue with this at all, in fact I applaud it as a welcome change, as it’s always good to discover new music.

It’s Very Simple

After you have signed in, eMusic knows your country of residency as it’s in your billing profile, they also know your likes, dislikes and  previous purchases.  Which is good as all this leads to a better browsing and recommendation experience.

Or so you would think.

Below is the home page of the eMusic site after I signed in.   It shows you a selection of “New and Noteworthy” albums.

Now seeing as eMusic knows so much about me, I would expect the selection to be tailored towards my tastes; and yes it is, at least a few of the albums on the home page are of interest.

eMusic screen showing new music, and clearly indicating it is not available.

eMusic screen showing new music, and clearly indicating it is not available

However despite knowing so much about me, eMusic goes and destroys the entire experience by not allowing me to purchase ANY of the albums recommended.   Due to licensing restrictions in Australia.

Here I am, wanting to purchase an album, but I can’t.   To make matters worse eMusic decides to wave a large flag in my face, screaming, “HA HA you can’t buy this”…

Changing the Approach

Now what would it have taken to exclude the albums from being recommended.  Emusic you already know they are “Not Available” due to my being in Australia, as we can clearly see this on the screen (above).

So just exclude the items “Not Available” from the query, really it’s not that hard.  Just show me the “Available” high rated or new albums.

A recommendation is a waste of time if I can’t purchase it.

Maybe eMusic just wants me to move a few clicks away and download the music for free.

You know I try and support and do the right thing by the musicians, but sometimes the paper pushers just get in the way and destroy the experience.

The model and experience is broken, they need to change.

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  1. It’s a problem on a lot of platforms.

    The Android Market occasionally does something similar. It shows apps that aren’t available in my country and I always wonder how hard is it to put a if ($country != US) { hide = 1 } statement into the code.

    It’s frustrating because I invest some time in reading about the app and decide to commit to purchase, only to be met with a message telling me – as you put it – “haha you can’t have this”.

  2. So you are saying they should censor the music you can see by country. Wouldn’t it be better to get the public upset that the music they want to buy is unavailable to them because they live in the wrong country?

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