Top 6 Missing Features From Thumbplay Music

image from www.textually.orgIn past month, I've had the pleasure of using Thumbplay Music. I had recently bought myself an iPod Touch and wanted to experiment with a cloud-based music service.

It's been a pretty good experience.

I've mostly used the mobile app and have only dabbled in the desktop player. But, I wanted to highlight six of the missing features of Thumbplay Music. Not all of these suggestions are perfect and several the Thumbplay Music team may be in the process of implementing.

I'll save the rest for last. [Read my full review here.]

In offering up these criticisms, I feel like the most ungrateful music fan – ever. Thumbplay Music can do better. Here's why eight million songs isn't enough:

6 Features Missing From Thumbplay Music

1. Import Music – In Thumbplay Music, you can import music and playlists from iTunes. That feature works fine, but I don't have much music in there yet.

I want to be able to import my music from thesixtyone, Pandora, and Slacker too.

Additionally, I would like there to be an export feature. Like bookmarks in a web-browser, I want to be able to leave a service with some kind of record of what I did. If I want to try out another music service, I can leave with my artist list.

I don't expect this list to be compatible enough to be imported into a rival service, but I would like access to it. That way, I have my user data if I unsubscribe.

  • Let me import and export my music easily. It's stored in many places.

2. Library Builder – I want there to be an entire music section in Thumbplay Music that resembles the "People You May Know" section of Facebook.

As soon as a feed it one artist, I should be able to quickly add and close out images of artists that I may know. Right now, it's a semi-painful experience to add artists to my library, it takes time, and Thumbplay Music doesn't even tell me which artists I've favorited already in their "Similar Artists" section.

This feature can be cross-sectioned by genre, popularity, location, and whatever else. It should be amazingly simple to build a gigantic music library – now.

This might as well be one of the first screens that a user visits:

"Welcome to Thumbplay Music. Please check off all the artists that you're familiar with and we'll help you build up your music library with minimal effort."

  • Every music service should have with a comprehensive library builder.

3. Playlist Refresh – Thumbplay Music has a great feature called Playlist Genie. Trouble is, for being a Genie; it's pretty terrible at granting me my wishes.

Don't get me wrong. The playlists that it creates are spot on. I wouldn't expect any less from a playlist generator that's powered by The Echo Nest.

Beyond that though, it falls short. The first thing that I would like my playlists to be able to do is to refresh themselves. Right now, I have several genie playlists that are geared towards the same artist. If I could refresh the playlist, I wouldn't have to create another one. Also, if the playlist genie remembered my searches, it would know that I've been searching for many of the same artists and am tired of having to type them every time that I would like to discover new artists.

You can right click on an artist and create a new custom playlist instantly, but the playlist that gets made is directed towards the song and not the artist.

Plus, pretty soon, you have a mess of oddly named playlists.

  • Playlists need to be smarter. They should refresh and memorize artists.

4. Updated Music – Inside of the Thumbplay Music app, there's a "Featured Music" section. This is one of their most important features and personally, I think they're blowing it. On the top of this section, there's a few albums featured.

I'm convinced that they haven't changed since I started since I started using their music app. I'm searching for new music to listen to and every time I check back into the "Featured Music" section, there's nothing new. I'm left underwhelmed.

At the very least, flag the music I've checked out before. That way, I know what I've given a chance already and can move on. Thumbplay Music marks the things that I've downloaded, so tell me what I've listened to prior. Don't waste my time.

If the music gets old, I'll get bored and end up leaving the service.

  • Curation is key. Services need to help the users find new, relevant music.

5. Ranking System – Songs are ranked solely by popularity in Thumbplay Music. The only filter that users have to discern how good a song might be is by how high it's ranked in the "Top Songs" section of an artist. You don't know how good or bad an album will be, or whether or not you'll like an artist that's similar.

You're led blindly through an oasis of music with no idea how good any of it is.

They should integrate a Digg style ranking system into their mobile app, because I need more information. The artists that are recommended to me need context.

Otherwise, the options are meaningless. Yes, the point of a cloud-based music service is to eliminate the risk of trying something new. It can't waste my time though. I spent the money. Now, save me the time. Rakings help me pilot Netflix.

There's no reason why a music service should be without a ranking system.

  • Help users find music. They need a hint as to what the best options are.

6. Better Search – Lastly, the search in the mobile app isn't predictive. This is a minor complaint, one that will be solved in the near future. The names of artists aren't easy to spell out and if you get it wrong, no results are returned.

Even if you're one letter off, search won't bring you to the artist.

We live in a Google Instant culture and typing everything out isn't a task that any user expects to do. Also, searching for songs with general names is impossible.

  • Search must be smarter. It disappoints users when they can't find a song.


This is a condensed version of a longer post. Please read the full-version here.

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