Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fathom: Discover New Music

I love music, and I love hunting for new musical treasures. I've spent countless hours prowling around music stores, searching for that next hot thing. Nowadays this happens online, which is infinitely more vast than the largest CD shop, yet the interface for exploration is woefully inadequate. You either have to wade through artist and album pages bloated with info, or you have to give up the hunt entirely and just let some recommendation engine pick things out for you.

Fathom is my humble attempt to turn this situation around. It strips it all back down to the crucial elements: the album cover and the music itself. It lets you glide effortlessly from album to album. It uses recommendations to make sure there is always more to explore, but you're the one in control, you're the one who decides which way to go next.

It's still in development (and let me tell you, I've got big ideas!) – mind the sawdust and all that – but it's already plenty fun to play with. Please, come on in, check it out, and let me know what you think!



Congrats on the launch! Already discovered Pixie Lott…
Wow, you just keep those innovations coming. I love Fathom. It is cooler than Pandora and Live365! Thank you for letting me beta.
I'm loving the design. However, functionally it is a bit hard to choose from the recommendations based solely on the album cover. On many of the album covers the name of the band it too small to read, if presented at all. Still, I can see this becoming my go-to music discovery site.
Daniel, nice find! I'm listening to her now.

David, thank you for being part of the advance team!

Nathan, that's a popular request - I hope to get to it soon - thanks for the feedback! You can follow the status here if you want:
It's a bit disappointing that you can't make full use of the site without Flash. I would have thought that someone who's building a new site in this day and age would work with standards and make use of the new HTML Audio element.

Other than that, not bad! I'll have to give this a full try. The one thing I found disappointing about was their individual track recommendations, which were never really satisfactory. Hopefully you can one-up them on that!
Please don't trigger music automatically without warning... I have a mental blacklist of every site that does that.

There are various reasons: Not least when you're at work and the speakers built in to your monitor (or whathaveyou) suddenly burst into life. Or when you're listening to an audio blog (as I just was) when you visit the site and suddenly music blares over the top.
Lozzy, I'm using SoundManager2 for playing audio; it's a JavaScript component, and it uses HTML5 audio if it can and Flash otherwise. One of the things that complicates the situation is the fact that my audio provider (Grooveshark) only supports mp3, while Firefox's HTML5 audio tag does not support mp3. Anyway, we'll keep up with the browsers as they advance. In the meantime, how have Fathom's recommendations been treating you? They're coming from, but the fact that they're based on artist/album rather than just track may make a difference.

Danny, point taken. I do think it should start playing immediately in response to a search, but perhaps we can make it clearer that that's what's going to happen. Also, when you share a link to a specific album it starts playing automatically, much like Youtube, and perhaps we should change that to be more like Vimeo. I've added bugs for these points:

Great to see all this discussion! Thanks again.
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