Thursday, March 27, 2014

Internet radio goes to shit

I received a notification from Last.fm that they were killing their streaming radio service as of the end of April (for which I was paying a whopping $3/month). The notification was actually very useful, with clear links to useful pages such as how to cancel the auto-renewal on my subscription, etc.

They have a beta version of their new player, which I tried... briefly. It appears to embed Youtube videos of copyrighted songs into a player, ads and all. One of these ads was over 2 minutes long, which doesn't work for me because I like to go into another room and let the songs play, with my cursor over the "skip song" button if I don't feel like listening to one. Yes, you can click to skip the ad after five seconds, but then I'd have to fiddle with the cursor and that's not worth a paid service.

Also, the sound quality sucks. I'm not talking a snooty "mp3s have compressed audio and you don't get the same experience" type thing. This sounded like they were running the audio through a telephone line and recording it on a wax cylinder.

So time to find a new online radio service.

I looked around at a few. There are a couple that don't work in Canada.

I'd heard the name Grooveshark thrown around and I'd thought I'd check it out. Naturally, to do this, I typed "Grooveshark.com" into my browser and got to their homepage.

The homepage appears to be the service itself. No introductory text or even a brief description of what type of service it is. Just a bunch of buttons and click-draggy things and tools for using it. After a few seconds of staring at the incomprehensible interface looking for a link for "About", "What is Grooveshark?", or "Start here" (of which there isn't), my screen was greyed out and replaced with a "you have flash disabled" warning that I couldn't dismiss without closing the page.

Eventually, I made my way to the help page, of which there were no useful options either to describing what the service is. The closest I could find was "how to use the service after setting up your account." Why the hell should I set up an account if I don't even know whether this service even remotely resembles what I want??

I know what you're thinking: JFGI. Go to the Wikipedia entry for Grooveshark.

But do I really want to use a service that can't even describe itself (or at lest can't be bothered to)?

As a courtesy, I thought I'd let them know that their website does a shit-poor job of turning interested visitors into users and customers, through a support form on their help section (I think I filed it under "bug report"):
 
Looking for replacements for last.fm and someone sent me to Grooveshark. Trying to figure out what it is or how it works but there's no "about" or description anywhere, not even on the help page. wth? (Not to mention that I couldn't even look around at it because I couldn't dismiss the "flash player blocked" popup).

Could Grooveshark serve as a replacement for my needs? Maybe, but I'll never know!

Perhaps not the clearest, but I think I got the point across.

To their credit, they responded relatively quickly, but that's about the only credit they'll get. The response itself was so spectacularly obtuse I feel compelled to share it with you:
Hello. Thank you so much for your patience and please accept my sincere apologies for the inconvenience. Will you please complete the steps below in Internet Explorer OR test Grooveshark from a different web browser (preferably Google Chrome https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/)?

**Please note the steps below will reset IE to default settings. Your bookmarks, extensions, plugins will be removed.**

1. Open Internet Explorer
2. Go to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/923737
3. Follow the instructions on the page

Here's the Getting Started Help article for Grooveshark as well.

http://help.grooveshark.com/customer/portal/topics/287-getting-started/articles

Please let me know how it goes. I would like to help.
So to sum up:
  • I asked them for a general description of their service (or more specifically, I pointed out that they do not make such a description easy to find)
  • They sent me instructions to wipe my Internet Explorer (which obviously wasn't the browser I was attempting to use because it doesn't even have the ability to block Flash!)

I don't know why I even try sometimes.

Oh, and if I've given Grooveshark a pass, where am I now? I'm looking at Deezer. Haven't looked hard yet (I still have a month of last.fm left), but it's got a clear yet unobtrusive "What is Deezer" link on the sticky bar, and the description one finds there is clear and clean.

3 comments:

David Scrimshaw said...

I don't know why you try either, but I'm glad you do.

Jason McLaren said...

I heard rdio.com is the best one that works in Canada. (Best selection.)

Their home page has somewhat less obtuse links for "what it is", "how it works", and "how much it costs".

RealGrouchy said...

Thanks, that one was next on my list and Deezer did well enough to stop me. I'll check it out.

- RG>