Thursday, September 28, 2006

Flash player on ccMixter?

There's been a small but consistent beat of requests for a flash player for the MP3s on the site. I've been avoiding the issue because it's well, flash

Pros --
- just about everybody has flash and if you do 'it just works'
- you don't need to worry about configuring your media player for mp3
- no M3U turd file gets downloaded
- you don't have to invoke a whole other application (the media player) to listen to music
- ccMixter feels a little old school by not having it.

Cons --
- not everybody has flash and some of us browse the web with flash blocked by default because it's an advertisers' favorite
- the music stops playing when you browse away which encourages people (even more than they already to do) to just sample tiny pieces of our brilliant opus remixes rather than let the tracks stream all the way through -- in other words, it makes perfect sense for freesound because their samples are 3 seconds long but for 4 minute remixes? Be real: no one is going to stay on a web page for 4 minutes just to hear the whole track.

Once the decision is made to try it then it's a matter of where on the site? Everywhere? Just individual song pages? On remix/tag listings? 'Stream this page?' The sample browser?

Everyone here is already set up and uses the site in a specific groove, but I'm asking you to think like the new person who stumbles over the site and what their experience might be like...


Matt Rubens said...

I think you should use Flash to stream music everywhere on the site. CCMixter is a great site, but I definitely think it would benefit from having a more seamless way to listen to music.

To degrade gracefully for users who choose to block Flash, you could always include a M3U and download link next to the player.

If you're afraid of users browsing away while music is playing, just use a popup Flash player like Pluggd does. Maybe you'd want to do this on the individual song pages while using an inline player in the sample browser?

fourstones said...

haha - fix one distasteful problem with another (popups)

seriously, this exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for, I will definitely try it and see how it feels.

and thanks for the nice words.

'play this page' -- I like it.

Holger Dors said...

I'd like a Flash player instead of the stream function. I'm using stream to kind of peek into something that sounds interesting. If I like it, I'll download it anyway! :-)

It would be nice to have a fast forward button on the player, though.

I'm not sure I'd like a popup player. (BTW, Garageband is doing this also.) If it would allow me to kind of create a playlist by just clicking another stream button, now, that might be interesting again.

Alternativly, would it be possible to let the Flash Player sit in a frame above or at the side of ccMixter that just sits there all the time? Probably too much of a site rewrite, along with the obvious "frames are evil" notion.

CDK said...

i thinks everything is totally fine the way it is, the only thing i would like to see is possibly a play counter, like how many times you song has been listened to.
but as far as flash. i'm going with, "con"

fourstones said...

More good ideas.

Playlists are separate feature, something that I've been promising for a while and slacked on for other priorities. Having said that I could do both, that is, have embedded flash players AND a 'ccMixter player' that is a popup that queues up tracks that you click on 'Listen in Player' kind of button. Makes sense?

In my mind frames are not any more evil than flash or popups, the drag with frames is that you lose the URL of the page.

If I'm not mistaken, fast forward requires server smarts, that is, a streaming server that knows how to 'drop the needle' in the middle of a track so I don't think that will happen.

fourstones said...

oops didn't see cdk.

Play counters are a completely different feature and one that I don't know how to do because unlike almost every other music site, we let you link directly to the MP3.

Like I said, I know *we* are all using ccMixter effectively but as you can see by the other responses there is a call for it and I don't think I can just ignore it. At the least I have to experiment...

Chris Rininger said...

The current approach works well for me; I like how the music plays as I navigate around and changes when I click stream on something new. I think I wouldn't like the music to be interrupted when I navigate away from a track's page. Having an flash player that stays put as you navigate(emulating the current behavior of using a separate media player, but on the site) is a good idea that would address the concern about interruptions.

I also like the playlist & counter ideas - it would be cool (or for many of my experimental songs underwhelming ;) to show how many playlists each track is on. It would also be a way to know which fives are really fives :). Good discussion.

Gurdonark said...

When I first came to ccmixter, I would have wanted flash on song pages.

It might be fun to have some things that might be obvious to some but not to all--
like a link to a good open source mp3 player and a link to how to create those webjay-like things whose formal name I can never recall, to show people how they can experience the music in different ways.

Back on topic, flash would be fine, but I don't live or die by flash.

teru said...

Personally I wouldn't change a thing but based on feedback I've gotten from casual listeners, I've been told Mixter can be pretty confusing.

A Flash player might help. Then again I've told people about the Bush of Ghosts site too and they find that even more confusing.

I think the option of Flash on the Picks page would be a cool place to start.

While we're throwing ideas out there, I think it'd also be cool if you could go back to the listener picks from previous weeks. : )

PorchCat said...

It might be better to webcast than to include a flash player. I'd imagine the backend "complication" would be the same with flash or webcast. I know Flash is ubiquitous, but I'm one of those users who avoids Flash and Java. Having a non-Flash/Java solution would be nice. The stream this page, picks, individual songs and "radio" are what I think should be integrated first.


Chris Rininger said...

Not sure you're still monitoring this, but I just realized I missed the "think like the new person" part. I think a cool way to use flash would be to create a new, slick "Tour the Site" feature accessible via a link with text something like "New to the Site? Click Here to Take a Tour". The first step in the tour would be to, of course, pick a genre for the flash-driven soundtrack that will play *during* the tour. You could even just reuse the content/genres selected for the radio feature. I think THAT would be an awesome first use of flash-based playback..... .. .

Marco Raaphorst said...

I like Playtagger or something extremely small.