Music Services & Band Names – A UI Nightmare?

Search for Beloved in iTunes

In this image, I’ve used different color outlines to differentiate between the 3 different artists using the name “Beloved”

Recently, as I’ve been using my Zune Pass more and more, I’ve discovered a bit of a quagmire when it comes to usability, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. What should music services like Zune and iTunes do about bands/artists that use the same name? How do you differentiate between very different artists without making the UI and/or UX even less usable than it was before?

The Problem

For instance, if you open up iTunes or Zune and search for the band “Beloved”, you will find results from 3-4 completely different artists that all use that same name (Zune shows albums by 4 different artists; iTunes shows albums by 3 different artists using the artist name “Beloved (U.S.)” instead of just “Beloved”). As a UI/UX designer, how would you propose that these music services differentiate those artists?

Amazon Fail?

Today, Amazon unleashed a (fame) monster that it seems unable to control. For one day only, Amazon is selling the mp3 version of the new Lady Gaga album (all 14 songs, plus a PDF booklet) for $0.99. The sale seems to have taken the Web by storm, and it’s shown just how fragile Amazon’s download service could be.

Windows Phone 7 vs. iPhone

After using an iPhone 3G for about 2 years, I gave it up last week. Then, this week, I picked up one of the new Windows Phone 7 devices (the HTC Surround). Following is a brief comparison of the two from my perspective.

Is Being “Smart (DJ)” Better Than Being “Genius”?

software_smartdj_quickplayAs most people probably know, Apple’s iTunes media player includes a feature known as “Genius,” which attempts to look at your collection and create playlists of related music for you. However, they may not realize that the new version of the Zune desktop software includes a similar (on the surface, at least) feature known as “Smart DJ.”

Being completely open, here, I can’t stand using iTunes for many reasons, so I’ve only very gently used the Genius feature. Therefore, I’m not going spend too much time in this post comparing the two services; I’m just going to outline the properties of the new Smart DJ feature, and hope that some of our readers will fill in the gaps as to whether or not they are available in the iTunes Genius mode. From what I’ve heard from people that have used both, though, the Smart DJ feature seems to be much more intelligent than Genius.

The iPhone Vs. The Zune

Having recently acquired an iPhone, I thought this might be a good opportunity to attempt to compare the iPhone with the Microsoft Zune and see how the two stack up against each other. Obviously, the iPhone is going to have some capabilities that simply cannot be matched by the Zune, but I think you might be surprised to see how they stack up when evaluated strictly as portable media players (PMP).

I do love my Zune, which will show through in this article a good bit. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am not a Microsoft fanboy, nor am I an Apple fanboy. I do have a certain bias against the iPod (mainly because of the iTunes software), but I have tried to write this article as objectively as humanly possible. I am definitely open to comments about any mistakes, incorrect assumptions, etc. I make in the article. I am not, however, looking for fanboy comments from either side spouting subjective opinions about whether Apple is better than MS or the other way around.

In my personal life, I am almost exclusively a Linux user, which makes it difficult to truly enjoy either device. Keep that in mind as you read my opinions on the matter at hand.

The iPhone – My Review

A few days ago, I got an iPhone from work. I have played with it a bit, and have to say that I’m impressed for the most part. However, there are still quite a few issues that I would love to see solved. Following is a list of the pros and cons of this gadget, as I see it.

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