At first glance, music might seem to be a saturated market on the web. Sites like Last.fm have music suggestions, artists profile, and communities covered, the iTunes and Amazon music stores make purchasing a breeze, and music videos can be found littered across Youtube and many other sites.
It’s time to make room for one more, and it has the potential to be big. Pluggedin, a music video and community site that sees itself as a Hulu for music, has just launched in public beta. The site’s biggest selling point is its high quality video content, featuring music videos from labels including EMI, Sony BMG, and Universal Music Group, along with a number of independent labels. Pluggedin is hoping to add the last of the ‘big four’ labels, Warner Music, in the near future.
The Hulu comparison is an apt one. The site is very clean, video quality is generally much better than what’s found on Youtube, and the amount of content is impressive, though there are some noticeable gaps. At launch the site features over 10,000 available videos, but most of them are not available in true HD quality (largely because existing footage is not hi-def). Pluggedin hopes that as the site gains popularity, content providers will have a greater incentive to film music videos in HD.
Pluggedin does a good job integrating with other sites on the web. Users are provided with direct links to Amazon and iTunes if they’d like to purchase a video or song they’ve just listened to. And the site has formed a number of partnerships with merchandisers, including Hot Topic for clothing and Thumbplay for mobile ringtones. All of this is presented in unobtrusive menus that don’t detract from the experience at all.
The site also features profiles for over a million musicians, including those that don’t have any videos on the site. Profiles are dynamically generated using content from a number of sources, including All Music Guide, Last.FM, and Wikipedia. And while these pages don’t feature any ‘HD-quality’ material, they do provide a list of each artist’s music videos found elsewhere on the internet, all of which play seamlessly in the page.
Despite all of these features, the site still has a few issues. Searching for specific videos can be tricky – it seems that users can only search by artist name, not song title. And for a site that promotes its video quality, there are surprisingly few videos available in HD at launch (though this is mostly a fault of content providers). And videos cannot be embedded into other sites, a major obstacle standing in the way of viral growth. And the biggest issue of all: Videos are not viewable outside of the U.S. and Canada.
The social networking aspect is minimal, but sufficient for sharing music between friends. It’s a great timewaster – clicking through random music has never been this fun. And the playlist feature be will great for impromptu parties. As long as PluggedIn continues to add content and doesn’t go overboard with their ads, this site will be one to watch.