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Talking Point: Justify Pony.fm's Existence


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It's a well known fact that good software projects never stop iterating and improving, even after it is considered "good enough" to launch. But if you launch an incomplete product, or one that doesn't deliver a significantly better experience than the alternative options, you won't go anywhere. That's the concept of the "minimum viable product", and it is one of the key factors that justifies the entire existence of many new tech ventures.

 

Thing is, Pony.fm is close to reaching the point of being a minimum viable product. A lot of development has gone into it, most of the core stuff is stable and functional, and the site is relatively usable. Although a lot of planned features are still on the tracker, there is a point at which the bar has to be set and the doors opened. Development will, of course, continue, but the public launch of the site will need to attract users' attention and give them a really clear idea of what Pony.fm is, and why it is something they need.

 

Recall: the goal of Pony.fm is to be the de-facto, go-to, one-stop website for all things pony fan music. Think of what FimFiction did for pony fan fiction. That's what Pony.fm should do for pony fan music, and we have a minimum viable product as soon as enough of the site is in place for users to see this vision - and join in. If Pony.fm comes off merely as a ripoff as [insert music hosting site here], no one will really care about it. People need to identify Pony.fm as a website that must exist.

 

If you have any experience with Equestrian Beats, the closest thing to a de-facto pony music site that exists right now, and/or SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or any other sites that distribute pony music, please feel free to share that in your response.

 

 

 

So, here comes the question: What does Pony.fm need for passersby to immediately identify it as the place for pony fan music?

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There are pretty much two major factors that play into this: speed and relevance.

There is literally no way to find any good Brony artists these days, aside from taking some serious time to browse the lesser-known corners of YouTube, or searching through EQD every once and a while (although, as we've discussed before, EQD's results aren't always the optimum).

If you can give me 1) a website that has ONLY results for pony music, 2) a direct, easy to use, and obvious system for narrowing the results, and 3) a way to quickly jump from one track to another (should I dislike/finish the track I'm on), then you practically own this niche called "Pony music".

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Well a good design is enough for me to want to use a website. EQbeats looks very empty with their mostly white design. I currently don't use EQbeats because their options for finding music are rather weak. I rarely know what kind of song I am looking for when I am looking for new brony music. As such, the search bar doesn't really help much. In my mind, EQbeats is for artists only, and stops short of being somewhere to go for new music. It doesn't really seem to allow for much in the way of sharing and becoming known. Not to mention that I can subscribe to an artist and get notifications when they add content, something you can't do on EQbeats.

 

pony.fm is already shaping up to be better than EQbeats.

 

IE: If it looks good and I can find music on it then you have my traffic. 

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(I don't have access to the tracker)

 

At any rate, what is lacking right now is perhaps social features, ways to instantly share content through one click to social networks. many Brony artists tend to hold Tumblrs and and Twitter accounts, and would like to deceminate their stuff through other means, to advertise to those who do not have Poniverse accounts.

 

You've said this once before, that if you have a content based website, that it all boils down to getting that content around the web. If that means allowing you to post to your Facebook wall from a listening page, then so be it. 

 

That is currently a feature I see is missing.

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BIG BOLD LETTERS

Actually, just the name already awakes the curiosity in the users...

For artists, maybe fixing the notifications system, and for general public, making it easier to go through songs...

And like in fimfiction.com, maybe adding an option, like, if your song is Applejack Related, then adding Applejack as a tag or something...

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Well, the Pony.FM must be/have (before any public):

  • Easier to orient around the site
  • Needs to look (even) more special
  • (A player that doesn't stop/exit the song when you browse/change page)
     

An ENORMOUS shoutout to Feld0 for developing this page in this extremely short period of time! :D

mlfw9064-194.gif

Oh, and have you looked more into the flac decoder? - http://labs.official.fm/codecs/flac/

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So, here comes the question: What does Pony.fm need for passersby to immediately identify it as the place for pony fan music?

A spotlight on quality, and a community willing to help other brony musicians reach said quality. EqD attempts to spotlight quality and fails in a big way. Pony.fm succeeding where EqD fails in that regard would be the biggest boon to the brony music community since its inception.
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A spotlight on quality, and a community willing to help other brony musicians reach said quality. EqD attempts to spotlight quality and fails in a big way. Pony.fm succeeding where EqD fails in that regard would be the biggest boon to the brony music community since its inception.

Once again, this notion is seconded. IF you have any concerns or ideas about this, please head on over to this thread where there is more detailed info on this idea for you to read through and contribute to if you feel so inclined.

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Pretty much agree with CloudFyre. There's been too many times where I'm at my wits end trying to search on Youtube with obscure keywords with the aid of "search by upload date" to try to find something new and refreshing. Having a site that cuts that would probably be pretty popular. Only pony results (which is already established), and an efficient way of cycling new content to always be sharing the new things, but at the same time making sure the popular tracks have earned their rightful place.

 

I haven't been on every pony music site in the world, but I still think a great addition to make this unique is to have a "search by pony" option. To be honest I like finding remixes and originals based around my favorite characters mostly, so being able to narrow down on that would be the most awesome thing ever. It also gives me a fresh and new way of searching for type of music too, so characters seem to fall under their own musical categories most the time (like I tend to associate Applejack with more acoustics and whatnot). Of course the problem with that is people actually filling out the right ponies with their mixes, but I'm sure kinks could be worked out.

 

Appearance and navigation should probably also be not only easy and appealing, but original and new. That falls more in the hands of design and a different ballpark all together, but it's probably a big factor. Like one small thing about MLP Forums that I always remember apart from all the other IP.Boards is the simple day/night background you guys have going on here depending on what time it is for me. Just little things like that. As for any suggestions, eventually having a multitude of skins would be awesome, at least of each Mane 6 or something *shrugs*.

 

The rest would probably just have to be publicity. When the final build of the site launches, it'd be cool to get some features somewhere outside of MLP Forums, maybe a Youtube video promoting it, and getting the word out. If we could get some people to join up that are very popular already in the pony music scene, more would follow suit. Eurobeat, Mandopony, etc and stuffs would probably do wonders for the site to stick out.

 

Just possible ideas to make sure this site shines above the rest anyways. I know that's a ton but I'm just spewing as I'm thinking haha

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  • 2 weeks later...

When coming onto a new page these are the first things I check out:


- What can it offer to me? What does the header tell me? Is there a lot of text to wade trough? Is this relevant to me? Is it engaging?

 

Once I find it relevant ( or at least not boring ) I usually do this:

 

- What can I do here? Do I need to register? Is this free? 

 

Since I would know by now it's a music website I would want to listen to something instantly, so having the top w/e ready to be played right away is important imo. ( This also means it has to load pretty much instantly depending on the connection but since mine's good I expect that. ) 

 

Since I am interested in a certain genre I want to be able to check that out quickly, so a 'search' or 'categories' would be looked for right away, with the latter being more important.

 

 

And from there on I would just explore the site, hoping it has good songs ( although I wouldn't hold it against the site if that wasn't the case. )

 

 

So yeah, I think the 'default' things apply here. Keep the site's description concise with visual cues.

 

 

And under no circumstances autoplay anything ever! ( Chances are low that you even considered it but I still want to be sure! )

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One immediate advantage that pony.fm has is the fact that it is a site intended for bronies, to host only MLP related music. Soundcloud and bandcamp do not share this factor. This gives pony.fm an advantage in the sense that it will be able to be both a community and a hosting site, as well as a place where people wouldn't have to fear ridicule for the fact that their work was MLP related. 

 

 

Therefore, something essential that pony.fm must have is a great community, just as MLP Forums. In fact, I recommend directly integrating its community aspects into MLP Forums's existing capacity. In other words, the "Blog" button in the pony.fm navigation bar would continue to lead to feld0's dev blog (or another relevant blog hosted on this site), and the "Forums" button would link to a future pony.fm subforum existing in the Extranet category. If I remember correctly feld0 either told me or posted somewhere here that every MLP Forums user account is automatically a user account on pony.fm, so smoothly transitioning between both sites would relatively be a non-issue, just as long as everyone understood this fact. 

 

 

Another aspect that it is paramount pony.fm include is a verbose amount of features with a relatively small learning curve. To quote my review of MLP Forums:

 

Overall, though, especially given the huge amount of features there are, this site is still very easy to use...

 

The same should be able to said of pony.fm's final product. It should have a full set of features relevant to its purpose while still being fairly easy to use, just as MLP Forums does. This should include profiles that can be greatly customized such as our profiles here, ways to search through and sort artists, tracks, and albums, average star ratings for songs, the ability to comment on tracks, albums, and artist profiles, and more. Another great feature would be three different leaderboards for artists, tracks, and albums. Everyone would be on the leaderboard, and perhaps 10-20 people would be shown per page. There would also be a statistic that could only be viewed by the specific user telling him where his place on the leaderboard would be. Ranking on the artist leaderboard would be determined by the average star rating and listen count of your songs, ranking of tracks on the track leaderboard would be determined their average star ratings and listen counts, and ranking of albums on the album leaderboard would be determined by a combination of each album's star rating with the average star rating and listen count of each song it contained. This is by no means an all inclusive list of necessary features, but are just some examples that I could think of at the moment. 

 

 

It is also essential that pony.fm's dedicated subforum here on MLP Forums is given a great amount of attention to help ensure end user satisfaction. Perhaps additional community stewards could be hired to moderate it, as well as pony.fm. Or, Lavoaster and Neikicorn could always do it, but I don't know how much free time they have here after their assistant development duties. Pony.fm users could send any technical problems they had to Feld0 and Key Gear through the support ticket system. 

 

 

Drawing from my previous paragraph, one thing that needs to be carefully observed is whether or not pony.fm begins to grow its own independent community from MLP Forums. It's possible that, over time, a single pony.fm subforum would become too cramped. At that point, it would be necessary to determine whether feld0 should just add more subforums for different areas of discussion related to pony.fm or making music, or if pony.fm should have its own independent forum on its site. I think the best way to do this would be a hold a poll for it if and when the future pony.fm subforum in the extranet category got overcrowded. 

 

 

And, lastly, an essential aspect not only for pony.fm, but for Poniverse in general, is centrality of leadership. Feld0, Key Gear, and the Community Admins would be in charge of all sites. Section and Global Moderators would primarily focus on MLP Forums, and different Community Stewards would focus on different sites in Poniverse. This will help spread out the great amount of work to do while maintaining central and consistent leadership and management throughout, so that the excellence here on MLP Forums will be present in the entirety of Poniverse.

Edited by SCS
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  • 2 weeks later...
(edited)

I agree with what's been said, especially with respect to quality and ability to find songs in the genre/style you're currently in the mood to hear....

 

 

What about a two-pronged rating system, one by fans, the other by moderators who've been somehow approved to be "music critics".

 

...And having the system be able to serve-up music with a minimum number of stars in either rating system.

 

 

 

...And I know it would be a lot of effort, but would it be possible to include something like Pandora?  Where like if you're in a mood to listen to feel-good songs in, say, rock and/or whatever, an internal classification system could know what to serve-up to you?

Edited by Dreamsong
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I agree with what's been said, especially with respect to quality and ability to find songs in the genre/style you're currently in the mood to hear....

 

 

What about a two-pronged rating system, one by fans, the other by moderators who've been somehow approved to be "music critics".

 

...And having the system be able to serve-up music with a minimum number of stars in either rating system.

 

 

 

...And I know it would be a lot of effort, but would it be possible to include something like Pandora?  Where like if you're in a mood to listen to feel-good songs in, say, rock and/or whatever, an internal classification system could know what to serve-up to you?

 

This is a great idea. One of the appeal of eqbeats was its tie into radio (there's a Fillydelphia group for soundcloud that's supposed to add your tracks to that station but i don't see that its worked). Whether its exactly like PAndora (IE awesome) or something more generic a random generator, it would be cool for pony.fm to essentially have its own radio station even if it's just a random song generator with  skip button or something more advanced that keeps track of good music and plays just the best of the best.

 

I'll echo what I've said all along is that this has to equally be a LISTENERS site and also get more than newb musicians.  If several semi well known musicians can get established on here and rally support THAT would be great too. If the music forum section can develop into more conversations, technique, and discussions that would help. If it can have a lot more features than EBBeats THAT would be great. If we can feature well made tracks by our own that would be great.. A lot of opportunites and hurdles here.

Edited by Freewave
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  • 2 weeks later...

What does Pony.fm need for passersby to immediately identify it as the place for pony fan music?

 

Many things are needed for it to be a site that defines the definitive fan music experience. It needs a friendly atmosphere where newer artists are able to feel welcomed, and receive feedback on their music to help them become better at what they do.

 

*idea lightbulb* Perhaps a tutorial section could help? For more complicated systems like FL Studio and such. Although they would have to be written by well versed members.

 

The second thing is that it needs to be simple for users to navigate, luckily this doesn't seem to be much of an issue. If its too complicated for a user to navigate, then it just wont work.

 

The third thing is that it needs diversity, luckily enough we have a large diverse group of artists who create music from MANY different genre's.

 

*Idea Lightbulb* perhaps a system that notifys you of new music in certain genre's that you choose?

 

 

From where I sit now, it seems as if the site is shaping up to be a definitive Fan music site ^^

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