The wreckage of a once great site


#1

once upon a time (10/07-6/08) there was a music discovery game site called the sixty-one. it was named after the roadway dylan made famous. the two founders of the site were a pair of programmers who had hit upon a truly amazing combination of music discovery, social network, and game. the site had music to appeal to many tastes ranging from the exquisite to the exquisitely awful and a listener could engage in personal conversations with many of the artists on the site. the site came out of private beta towards the end of october of 2007 and an article in boingboing – http://boingboing.net/2007/12/09 – brought a large influx of new users to the site in december. there was a 7 or 8 month period when things were really humming along. when i first started using the site there were 2000-3000 listeners on an average day. after the boing boing mention the numbers started trending upward. there was an initial spike of about 8000 listeners immediately after the mention here but when that wore off the new normal was 4000-5000 and the listenership was growing at a serious pace. by april to may of 2008 the average daily listeners stood at 8000 or so with occasional spikes over 10,000.

at that point the two founders made the first of several moves towards restricting the social aspects of the site. the manner in which they did so resulted in a drop down to a listenership in the 4000-5000 range. as time went by they made more and more restrictions in the social aspects until they announced the new version of the site in early 2010 which eliminated all social aspects and replaced the various useful pages of statistics and information with fullscreen displays of the most recent album photo the artist had put up. they left open a secondary website with the old version of the site. after an initial crush of 10,000 listeners for a few days the new version listenership collapsed to half or less of the old version and in their bitterness the founders lost interest in the site which has existed without tweaks since then. over time some aspects of site performance have seem to have deteriorated or it could be an artifact of the greatly reduced listenership. for much of the last year the number of listeners has been in the 200-300 range. over the past two or three weeks the number of listeners has tended to be less than 100. the new version stopped working 5 months ago.

around eight months ago a collective of listeners and artists from the site tried to get the founders to sell them the rights to the site and the code but they expressed no interest in doing so. what i find particularly frustrating about the whole arc of this site is that the founders had an opportunity in 2008 to develop their site into a unique space. even now i can’t think of any music site that so seamlessly combined social network with music with a truly addictive game aspect. if they had been able to scale up during that first run into the 10.000s and beyond without shooting themselves in the foot with their heavyhanded blows against the social aspect of their site they could easily have been a force to be reckoned with. instead they seemed to shoot themselves in the foot at every turn.

anyway, i still play my own game on the site even now. these days i play the game of a hoarder wherin my goal is to have a position on every single song on the site. my username is mathmanmrt and the address of the only version of the game still around is – http://old.thesixtyone.com/

looking back at this essay i can see that i have let some of my bitterness creep in but it is not nearly as bitter as i feel.


#2

in the past month one of the founders of the site has taken a renewed interest in it and has been making changes which have resulted in an influx of both former listeners and new listeners.the site is also attracting many independent artists again. the address is: http://thesixtyone.com

my profile is at http://thesixtyone.com/mathmanmrt

if anyone is interested in signing up giving it a spin, i think it is a fascinating place.


#3

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