Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Sixtyone (2)

This post is about the sixtyone.com - my favourite music website. If you're not familiar with t61 this post will make very little sense.

t61 - the game
A month or two after I joined t61, I got into bumping songs to earn points. It felt good to pick out a song I thought would become popular, bet on it, and then earn points for picking a winner. It was nice to see the points total rising. My listening habits changed a bit. I listened to more songs for less time per song, but overall my listening increased dramatically (I'm only going from memory, here - the real figures are probably extant on t61's database). My betting behaviour changed. I became more concious of betting on something I thought others would like. I would spend, or rather invest all my points and knowing that the more I invested the greater my rewards - its not like I needed to save any for a rainy day. Then, I discovered the browse section and began cruising the new stuff. Basically, if you bump a song before others your rewards are far greater than if you are a late bumper. For a few days I battled with a few other 61er's to first bump any catchy new tune that appeared.

I couldn't stop myself from working out quite how much effort it would take to put oneself up in the rankings of the top listeners. My growth rate seemed quite reasonable, I seemed to be doubling my points every few days at the peak of my activity. But the effort it would take over an extended period to really get 'up there' ruled out any idea that I could actually become a top listener (and hence have more power to bump a song to popularity). It hadn't been a serious thought, but the desire was there. I contented myself with the goal of getting in the top 1000 listeners.

But no sooner had I really got into 'playing the game of t61' - than the site's owners changed the rules. They wanted it to be a 'music adventure'. In other words, it was supposed to be about the music, not the game. I stopped playing. For a few short days I'd listened to more new music than ever - and new music that in the main, wasn't filtered through the 'machine' of the recording industry. However, I wasn't listening as 'deeply' as before. I'd tend to listen to new stuff as work, making a decision to bump, add or discard within the first minute, and then return to a few favourites when I wanted to listen for pleasure. Every now and then though, from my listening work, a little gem would pop up and become one of those favourites

Very soon, real life forced me to take a break from t61, as I knew it would. I did make it into the top 1000 - but subsequently dropped out when I went on a points spending spree on some songs I liked.

t61 - the music genres
If you take a look at my profile and check out my music page you'll see I've tried to organise my music in a non-traditional way. Basically I think of two words which best describe the music, eg 'happy pop', 'dirty electro-dance', 'rock soundscape', 'crazy wierd' (there's some good un's in there !). This two word description then becomes the genre. I haven't set myself any firm rules yet, but I do try to keep to just one hyphenated word - otherwise I'd end up with monstrosities like 'electro-funk alternative-drumnbass'. I don't stick to known genres; the words could be purely descriptive of the feel of the music.

For me the system seems to work. What I need to find is a technological solution to make it easier just to tag a song with two words, and also auto-suggest words that I've already used. But fundamentally, choosing music based on a two word description of the general characteristics of a song seems a better solution than having a 19 year-old journalist at the NME do it for me. I'll be posting a lot on music genres, I expect. Its a subject that's dear to my heart ! 

As I've been in the process of writing this post, I've been back to trying to grab a few more points. I'm going to try the basic method of following the top listeners by subscribing to them and bumping what they bump. It seems an easy way to ratchet up my score quite quickly - I'll let you know how it goes.

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