Rhapsody upgraded their service today. It’s mostly great news. They added local downloading of songs so you can listen offline (*) and they added uploading songs to your portable music player. They also added playing all your local music files (mp3, wma, aac, cda, etc) so that you can play all your music in one place. But, they also made a few things less usable, at least for me.
The old interface looked something like this:
In the top left you can see “My Library”. If you select a song, album or group over there you can right click and pick “More Info” and more info will appear on the right main area as you can see above. Conversely, if you click “Save” on a song on the right you’ll see it get automatically added to your library on the top left confirming that you’ve added it and showing you other songs by the same artist you already have in your library.
Also, in the middle column you can see a list of all albums features songs by the current artist. Above there are 19 albums showing.
The new one looks something like this
You’ll notice “My Library” in the top left is now just a single line. Clicking it makes “My Library” appear in the main area on the right. Notice I can’t see the songs from multiple albums like I could with the old interface. In the new interface only the albums appear in the My Library list, you have to select one to be able to see the songs on it. Also notice that I can’t see anything about the artist. If I pick “More Info…” or “View in Music Guide” as it’s now called, the display changes to this
Notice that I can no long see “My Library”, it’s disappeared. Also notice that the album list, while it does show all the album covers now it only shows 6-7 albums, the old one showed 19 in the same space. Also, if I click “Add” to add the album to “My Library” there is no confirmation. Since “My Library” is no longer visible like in the old interface I have to trust that it was added.
Here’s another example. Here’s the old player. Notice the button labeled “Album Info”.
Now look at the new player.
The button is gone. This is extremely important if you are listening to a Rhapsody radio station. If you hear something you like you’re going to want more info which might lead to more music from that artist as well as discovering similar artists. I doubt most users will figure out you can click the name of the album (there’s no indication that it’s clickable.)
IMO these changes in this new interface will effectively make me seek out LESS music. Maybe that was their goal but I doubt it. How sad.
On top of all that in this upgrade they still didn’t fix or address any of the old problems with Rhapsody. The #1 problem is there is basically no good way to queue music not in your library. Normally in Rhapsody you have a list of songs that are playing call the “Mixer”. It could have been created from a playlist or you can add individual songs, albums or entire artists to your “Mixer”. So, you’ve got 15 songs queued up, you want to add a few more, if they are in your “My Library” list no problem. But, if they are from music you just found by browsing you have 3 options, none of them all that great. #1, click “play”, your 15 queued songs will be skipped and the one song or album you selected will start. #2 add them to your library even though you don’t know if you like them yet, then find them in your library (an even worse option now since Rhapsody no longer shows songs you just added like the old version), then now that they are in “My Library” you can add them to the “Mixer.” #3 set the default to add the songs to your Mixer instead of playing them. It sounds like #3 would work except it’s poorly implemented. If no music is currently playing and your default is set to add to your Mixer then even though you clicked “PLAY” on the song all it does is get added to the Mixer and nothing plays. It’s really annoying because even though it sounds simple “Just click the real play button” most of time I don’t remember. Probably because I just clicked “Play” on the song but also because Rhapsody takes 2-5 seconds to start playing a song it needs to download (it’s go to start downloading it) so generally I click play and then go back to whatever I’m doing. It’s only a minute or so later do I realize the music is never going to start and I have to go back to Rhapsody and click the real play button. Two solutions. #1 they should make it if the default is set to add to “Mixer” then if nothing is playing start playing the music. #2, You can drag and drop music from your playlists and from “My Library” directly into the “Mixer”. That’s even cooler than clicking “Add to Mixer” because you can drop them at any position inside the “Mixer” effectively allowing you to choose the order of playback. But, you can’t drag and drop from the main music browsing window. If they made it so you could it would be perfect. If they implemented #2 then basically you’d never need the option to “play now” vs “Add to Mixer” because both options would always be available. Clicked “Play” on a song would always play it immediately, dragging the song to the “Mixer” would queue it.
(*) Being able to use the player offline is a relatively pointless option unless you live in a 3rd world class networked country like the U.S.A. where people still have dialup and/or slow broadband. Here in Asia we skipped broadband and went straight to ultraband which is 4 to 150 times the speed of broadband.