TheSixtyOne.com – Social, Customer Service, Brains = FAIL 5

This is a story of failure.  The sixtyone.com is a music site mashed up with a strong social element.  This was an everyday stop for me on the ol’ information super duper highway.  Every morning when I sat down to work, this was one of the first tabs I opened.  The music of great artists and great discoveries inspiring me throughout the day.  I even wrote a blog post about the greatness that was thesixtyone.

Here’s the basic premise of how it works.  Artists post their music to the site.  Users can shuffle through different genres and sample new music.  Users can then “heart” their favorite songs.  Songs with more hearts climb higher up the charts.  The hook for me was the ability to gain reputation points each day by completing quests.  Each quest completed gives you more hearts and points.  Accumulating points gains you daily hearts and unlocks other abilities.  You also gain reputation points based on the songs that you heart.  As hearted songs gain in popularity, you get “credit” in the form of more reputation points.  There was also places to talk about the songs and sometimes interact with the artists themselves.  It’s just a fun way to listen to music.

All good, right?  Not so fast.  A couple of months ago, I logged in one morning and wham, it was all gone.  Thesixtyone had decided to throw out a radical redesign.  Gone were all the social elements, replaced by full screen pictures of the artists.  All the navigation was destroyed.  Basically everything that made the site great, was either gone, buried, or so complicated that it was rendered useless.

The community fought back quickly.  The Facebook fan page was on fire with complaints.  I’ve honestly never seen a harsher and swifter backlash than came from the community.  What happened?  That’s where our big fat FAIL comes into play.  Did the developers work with the people who obviously love their site so much.  Nope, they ignored the hundreds of negative comments.  They’ve posted a couple of times about new “features” as they rolled them out.  That’s not how social media is designed to work.

Innovation is great.  We all should be constantly moving forward, that’s life and technology.  This however, is a great case study of what NOT to do.  Grabbing attention in this cluttered world is not easy.  If you are fortunate enough to find something that actually reaches out and attracts a following, that fantastic.  Don’t forget the things that got you there.  It’s just sad.

FYI, the is still a semi-working version of the old site up at old.thesixtyone.com.  It isn’t perfect and now has some bugs.  I still go there, but the day it goes, I’ll be going with it.

Look at some of the comments still showing up from angry (and mostly ex-users) on Facebook.

John D’Alton

the new site is a usability-fail, and the loss of community and impossible discovery of new music is a superbig-fail. I’m not there much anymore either.
Meka Nelson

I quit too. The new layout lost me. I tried for an hour to message someone who subscribed to my station but it was impossible. I gave up and didn’t go back. I LOVED YOU BEFORE.
Mathew Withone T

Also a heavy user here who gave it a few days on the new site. Haven’t been back since… except once to check to see if it had changed back to something more useable….it hasn’t.  Miss the social aspect and the easiness of discovering songs I wanted to discover, not songs the site forced on me.
Steve Cohen

Did anyone at T61 actually test the new version? New is supposed to be better…not godawful bad like current version. I hate it.
Larry Amos

It looks like I will have to pull my music off this site. It has been unfortunate to have it come to this. But the site is only making me look bad (not that I am anything to be raved about either). Maybe everyone can leave me a comment with their opinion. Oh wait,…I forgot,….you CAN’T!!!

5 thoughts on “TheSixtyOne.com – Social, Customer Service, Brains = FAIL

  1. Reply rafaelbrandao Mar 3,2010 10:23 pm

    I remember to be talking to a friend on T61 when they decided to change the design. The site spend a few minutes off and when I get back, I saw the new design. For a few seconds I was amazed with its beauty, but as soon as I started to use it I figured out how bad it really was. I couldn’t find my friends, I couldn’t find new music, I couldn’t talk to artists (except commenting on songs what is really odd if you’re just saying hello or asking how life is going) and I couldn’t find my group too (which I took a while to figure out where it was). So the new interface was really unintuitive and I gave I real try but I figured that it was bad and tried to contact james and sam to ask them to revert it quickly before it was too late. Of course I was ignored.

    Joined facebook to follow the discussions, and went there to tell people they could still use the old interface by the link you’ve pointed out in this article. A few minutes later that comment was deleted and I couldn’t post anything on the thesixtyone wall again.

    It was chaotic. Really. Who could ever imagine you were talking to a few of your T61 friends for the last time? It’s really sad, there’s a bunch of them that I couldn’t find again after the “blackout”. They didn’t give us any warning about it. They’ve just ignored, and they’re still doing it. I’m already muted on T61 so I can’t even comment on songs anymore and I’m pretty done with the site right now.

    It was a very disrespectful move. We are people, not things. And we were there pushing the good content to the top, spending our time inviting more people to join the site, teaching them how to find music and so on. This is not what we deserve.

    The new design is also making things even more difficult for new artists, you can see more information (and screenshots) here: http://www.paisleysound.com/2010/02/t61-highway-is-abandoned.html

    Thanks for taking your time and writing about it, great article!

  2. Reply Kevin Senne Mar 3,2010 10:42 pm

    Thank you so much for your great comment. It’s so sad that the guys would take such a passionate group of followers and just ignore them. I haven’t found an alternative yet. Please keep in touch if you find somewhere for us to land.

  3. Reply Davy Hamburgers Nov 19,2010 9:15 am

    Nice article. I loved the old site both as an artist and a listener. I am blocked to this day from commenting on songs or walls there because I was so outspoken(obnoxious) about the change. I miss the sonic connections made with people there every day. I made a hip hop band with people I met there, on a lark ,and now we have over 1000 last.fm listeners. (http://www.last.fm/music/Polka+Glocks) They (thesixtyone) blew it big time, artists and listeners had never had such a fertile ground for communication, and they stripped the beauty from what they made all the while caustically ridiculing their loving constituents. Bastards.

  4. Reply Kevin Senne Nov 19,2010 10:07 am

    Have you been back? Wondering if they ever made ANY changes?

  5. Reply chiefhigh Nov 22,2010 6:57 am

    Some new , some old please!!
    I would suggest using the new t61 as the music player.
    Display the new t61 music player in a separate pane on the old t61 page.
    Make it about 60% of the screen.
    Keep all the old t61 functionality on the side and bottom of the screen.
    Wouldn’t that make a really great internet music experience ???

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