Before MySpace Music even existed, online social music service imeem had a deal with all the major labels and many of the smaller ones to stream their music for free over the Internet. The problem, is that the music was scattered all over the place, making a cohesive music experience harder to achieve than through services like iTunes (where you pay for all your music) or Pandora (where you cannot select which songs you will hear next). Today brings a newly revamped version of imeem that streamlines the music experience while adding some new features.
There are four main components to the new imeem. The first is the Spotlight page (shown below). This is the new main hub of imeem. Front and center you will find an easy way to search for any artist, video or song you are looking for on the service. Next to that is a featured playlist of select music put together by imeem. The page is full of both original written content about artists by the imeem team as well as certain content partners. Imeem’s advertising partners also are showcased on this page.
This Spotlight page is important. Right now, the main page I see when I log in to the service is all cluttered and I have no idea where to begin. The spotlight page is clean and it’s easy to follow.
The next new area is called Discover. This is a personalized area for you, with music tailored to your liking. By pulling various data from your profile such as what songs you are rating, what songs friends in your social graph rate and what artists you become friends with, imeem not only builds you a playlist of music that is constantly evolving, it recommends music videos you may like and event suggests musical events in your area that you may like to attend.
When asked how it compared with recommendations served up by services like Pandora, Last.fm or even the new iTunes Genius feature, Imeem’s chief marketing officer Steve Jang pointed out that many of the algorithms at play within imeem have actually been around for the better part of two years. The problem was that there simply wasn’t a good interface for them to be used to their full ability.
That, on top of imeems robust community — the site claims that it reaches over 100 million people a month through its main site and its embeds found on other sites — gives imeem what it needs to serve up perfect recommendations. It’s music discovery mixed with social discovery, Jang pointed out.
The third area of the site is called Browse. This is more of a general area for users to find interesting artists when they aren’t necessarily sure what they’re looking for. Here you’ll find things like top ranked artists, rising artists, most favorited, etc. Basically, it shows you what is popular site-wide.
The fourth area are Artist Pages. Imeem is certain these will be a hit because there was no page that you could go to before to access everything by one artist — even though many people would be searching for just that. On these pages you can find everything related to an artist as it exists on imeem, this includes a much easier way to find full albums, as imeem is auto-creating playlists based on albums.
The artist pages are a good example of how imeem has evolved. The site has taken what its learned from its users over the last two and a half years and translated it into a totally revamped site that seems much more accessible.
The new site “fits intuitively into what user mode you’re in,” Jang points out. If you want to find some interesting new stuff, you might check out the Spotlight page, if you want personalized music you’d go to the Discover area, if you want to find what is hot on imeem at any given moment, check out Browse, and for more specific needs, check out the artists’ pages themselves.
“Imagine a huge vibrant city. Imagine having only a few portals to look into that city. We need to open up the gates on this — the windows — and really bring in the light,” Jang said referring to the huge amount of content and data that imeem has, now its just about getting it out there better.
Faced with MySpace Music entering the field that imeem has held down for the past couple of years, the company doesn’t seem too scared. “It is encouraging to see a company of that size to see the product and business model and validate what we’re doing,” Jang said. MySpace Music is certainly a rival that needs to be watched because of its parent sheer size, but Jang believes imeem’s team and everything that the company has built in the past two years will keep them growing and moving forward.
As for what’s next, Jang was hesitant to say, but did hint at some mobile prospects.