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.