Internet music retailer eMusic is undertaking an ambitious site redesign that infuses music discovery and social networking features. Beginning July 22, eMusic is rolling out new album pages for their collection of more than 3.5 million songs--an update that includes both cosmetic and practical design upgrades.
Visually, the new eMusic album page design has a much cleaner and bolder feel than the somewhat dated look the site had been holding on to. The new album page layout is wider, and puts more emphasis on album artwork and user ratings. In a move that should delight those of you who get a kick from printing out CD covers, eMusic now offers high-resolution 1400x1400-pixel album art.
The most intriguing new feature on eMusic's new album page is the inclusion of content from partners such as YouTube, Flickr, and Wikipedia. For instance, a look at the album page for Radiohead's In Rainbows offers the usual track listing, cover image, editorial blurb, and user comments, but as you scroll down further you'll notice a selection of Radiohead YouTube music videos, as well as a handful of live concert photos hosted by Flickr, and an excerpt of the band's entry on Wikipedia. Aggregating dynamic content such as this from around the Web may not seem revolutionary in today's age of Facebook applications and Wordpress plug-ins, but compared with the hermetically sealed environments of iTunes and Amazon MP3, eMusic's move is a relatively gutsy break from tradition.
One of the eMusic album page's less obvious new features is a drop-down menu with 18 different social networking links, including Facebook, Digg, Twitter, and Stumbleupon. Each link lets you post clips from the album page on whatever social networking site you prefer. While eMusic's social networking link feature is well-executed, they're off to a late start in a medium where users are already consuming full song streams from services such as iLike, Rhapsody, and Seeqpod.
Upgrades to other eMusic page types are soon to follow, including new layouts for artist pages, improved search functionality, and a new "visual bread-crumb" feature that keeps better track of your browsing history.
Despite eMusic's face-lift and infusion of Web 2.0, some users will still be turned off by the company's unique monthly pricing plan and lack of major label recordings, however, indie-loving music fans should definitely give eMusic's revamped site a look.