As a result of vast volumes and numerous sources of information available through the web; evnough that even the best information worker, let alone the average punter can be swamped. We’ve seen the rapid adoption of RSS (and for RSS you can also include Atom and others). Anyone more than the most casual of users will know RSS gives you the means to gather together sources of information and see when they change (give or take a bit in the technicalities).
With all of these feeds combined with a personal news aggregator – which could be something like delicious or pluck (my preference), it starts becoming a relatively easy task to keep with your favourite artists and wider happenings in the world of music. Well almost; if you follow your favourite artists through fan sites, you’re probably ok. But if you want to hear get the news from the source, then you’re likely to have a few problems. Lets take the new Scissor Sisters site. The ‘sisters have just launched a fresh site as part of the build up to the new album. Looks pretty, but no RSS feed to pickup the news. Which means either you have to sign up to their email or visit the site regularly, navigating through the unnecessary flash animation of entering the site – pretty, but pointless (but thats a whole different kettle of fish – but of you want to know more now checkout Jakob Nielsen).
To keep up with news from their site you have no choice but join their email list, but it does mean that you now have to keep track of which sites you’ve given your email to. What happens you email account gets spammed to death or compromised? Besides, all your other news is coming through your RSS feed, so why do these sites insist on going against the flow. All I wanted to do is keep abreast of the release dates for the singles and new album; I do not want to be emailed everytime their is a ticket auction for gigs in Witchita when I live in London.
The Scissor Sister’s are far from the only artists who have a website like this (I could bore you with the length of the list of sites that I have a grievence with); pretty with the use of Flash but far from quick for access to news when it happens. It seems to be a terrible sin amongst many artists sites to use Flash and no RSS. It would be interesting to know if the record labels/management people sit around wondering how it is they pour lots of money into website teams or companies (and given the glossy look of the sites founded by ex PR/Ad Agency people) and wonder why the fan sites attract so much more traffic and run by people in their spare time.
The biggest sinners are some of the print journals – like NME. I know that the website is paid for through advertising revenue (an evil I can live with), but that doesn’t stop you having an RSS feed – I’ve seen a couple of sites with feeds where they’ve incorporated ads into the feed information without it being annoying. Ironically, I think the NME have possibly lost out here, as a major news source people have ended up making an RSS feeds available by regularly scraping the website, filtering out all forms of advertising. This does mean that the sites that provide of this RSS can exploit the situation to the NME’s detriment – a situation already created some ripples on the web elsewhere. But a revenue stream lost for the NME which could at least pay for the service, at best funder a richer friendlier site.
So will these sites stop being all Flash and no RSS? I hope sooner rather than later, but I have my doubts.