Promenade, a music & technology blog, penned by Eoghan O'Neill.

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Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Apr 3

Written by:
Tuesday, April 03, 2007  RssIcon

(This is the first entry in my new blog which will cover music and related technology stuff)
 
 
 
Muse.ie logoBack in 1999 when I started CLUAS the most visible music website in Ireland was www.muse.ie. At that time it was run by Eircom's digital publishing division (christened with a - of course - cooler than thou name: 'Rondomondo').
 
Remember, this was the time before the dot com bubble burst and those working for this new interweb thing were going to become masters of the universe. Or something like that. Ronodomondo somehow persuaded some moneyed (but gullible) people to hand over loadsa dosh to help them get a place on the frontline of this, er, new world order. Rumour has it that the Rondomondo boyz'n'gals then - holy Batman - splashed a good wad of it on flash offices and even flashier dot com furniture, all necessary for the cause of course).
 
Anyway, roll the clock forward now to early 2000 and in strides the pin to burst the dot com bubble, neatly pricking Rondonmondo on its way. So before you could double-click your gold-plated mouse it was farewell to muse.ie. Until now that it is.
 
Yes, the muse.ie domain name was bought by an Irish company called MediaSpace who last November announced they would be 'shortly' relaunching Muse.ie website. The launch date kept getting pushed back, until a few days ago when it was finally launched.
 
However at the end of January I managed to find a rear door to the muse.ie site that was wide open from where I could sneak in and see the site as it was at that stage in its development. It was looking good even then but there were clearly a number of rough spots to be sorted out. One of these rough spots however is not just still in place but was exploited by one of the site's first users. Read on…
 
On my first visit to the new version of muse.ie my eyes were drawn to the first album review they published . A review of a new release by someone called Vanessa Holmes (no, I'd never heard of her either).

Muse.ie album review section

The review itself had a pungent fishy odour about it. First up, it read like a very badly written press release ("You can here samples of the CD album right now at…"), then the very generous rating by the reviewer (a whopping 9/10) raised my eyebrows a notch or two. (Update: the review has since been removed by Muse.ie from the site, however here is a screendump of the original review that allows you to read it in its entirety).
 
I decided to dig a bit deeper. The review was written by "millimills2000" and her muse.ie profile gave a load of information about her, including a link to her myspace page. And it was here that my worst fears were confirmed. Scrolling down the MySpace page I found a comment left for "millimills2000" by none other that the esteemed artist who was the subject of the review in question - Vanessa Holmes - which Vanessa signed (wait for it) "Love Always, Your Niece Vanessa"…

Muse.ie: Vanessa Holmes comment

Well there you have it. Up and coming bands of Ireland, take note - the time has finally arrived to mobilise your Aunties to your cause! Muse.ie is here, the 21st century platform for Aunties (and sure Uncles too, why not?) to publish their glowing reviews of their nieces' and nephews' carefully crafted musical art. Just get them to sign up for a free muse.ie user account and global domination of music markets is yours for the taking.
 
Yes, yes, yes, excuse the facetiousness of the last paragraph. What is going on here is that muse.ie is allowing anyone to publish any review of any act they want without any editorial intervention. This is crying out to be abused and so it was as soon as it was out of the traps. Now - to their credit - Muse.ie seem to be aware of this as in the last 24 or so hours as they changed the title of the reviews section (where the offending article appears) from "Reviews" to "Your reviews". Even so is it really sensible to present yourself as a music magazine (with an appointed Editor who previously oversaw NME Ireland) but then allow any review of any act written by absolutely anyone to be published without as much as a momentary check by a lowly sub-editor? This functionality should never have seen the light of day and should - IMHO - be dropped.
 
(ASIDE: We on CLUAS have in the past had similar attempts by bands - or those close to them - to submit glowing reviews of themselves but we were able to screen them before publication. A propos, I invite you to also savour my all-time favourite rejected review submitted to CLUAS).

Despite all the above I have to say muse.ie is impressive in its ambition and the richness of its functionality. Will it be a success? I genuinely hope it will (it'll be a darn good place for me to steal new ideas for CLUAS and, sure, a rising tide floats all boats does it not?). It will certainly attract a good number of Irish music fans.
 
I do however note that Muse.ie wants bands and fans to create their own webpages, upload their own music and videos. Sound somewhat familiar? Will users and bands really want to maintain yet another profile page on muse.ie in addition to their own websites, MySpace & Bebo pages and blogs? Only time will tell.
 
In the meantime, be sure to call up your Aunties before muse.ie pull its Auntie-friendly review submission service!
 

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18 comment(s) so far...


Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

That review is class.

Oh and Steve, I wouldn't boast about being the editor of a magazine that lasted only a few months.

By Garret on   Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Hehe Eoghan,

You're certainly on the ball - we've only been live a week and already several of the many changes we've been making have been noticed ;-)

We do think it is important to allow users to review music alongside our own reviews which will now appear in 'Muse Reviews'. Expect this to grow over the next week or two as we roll out changes to that section. In any case, there is a 'Comment' function below each user submitted review - so if you have something to say about it, you can do so using that comment yokey. We may implement an approval system for the user generated reviews - we can get this coded in a few hours, but there is no harm in seeing how it goes in the meantime.

In any case, the reviews section is just one part of an already content-rich site. We currently have (to my knowledge) Ireland's only free breaking music news service with tons of new stories daily, backed up by regular features, and (like yourselves!) blogs.

The profile page / video / social networking element of the site is not the main focus of our offering and never will be. It is merely an extra feature we feel is important to have at this stage.

Thanks for your positive comments about the richness of the functionality of the site - there is much more yet to come.

Hugh

By musehugh on   Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

wow, eoghan, theres a lot of bitterness in your blog there. both towards the original muse and the new muse. live and let live, man. i'm just amazed you didnt point out how similar Muse 2.0 is to Cluas - all those boxes at the top of the page, same bad writing etc etc

By rockchicklet on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Rockchicklet,

Sorry, but there is no bitterness towards the original muse, which was a site that set standards CLUAS strived for in its early years. My smug micro-dose of sentimental outrage was directed at Rondomondo, muse's mother company. Anyway, Rondomondo is hardly worth losing breath over. Whenever (and if ever!) someone decides to write a the history of early Irish internet companies Rondomondo will probably register as nothing more than a tiny blip, a company that - like many others at the time who were 'out to change the world' - got and spent loadsa of dosh despite not having a business model that stood up to any sort of scrutiny. Muse v1.0 though is still today - quite rightly - remembered as being the best thing that Rondomondo did with their megabucks.

On to Muse.ie v2.0. If the editor of a new music website goes on the record stating that they "hope to bring Irish music fans the best reviews" and it then transpires that the first album review they publish has been written by the artist in question's Aunt, I think it is completely vaild and appropriate that someone points that out. Don't you? Or would you rather I shut up and put up?

You also state that the "same bad writing" is on CLUAS. If there is something on CLUAS up to (down to?) the same standards as the Vanessa Holmes review on muse, then - please - point it out. I would love to know where it is.

Finally, it goes without saying that I am not bitter towards muse.ie v2.0. As I said above in the blog entry I am very pleased they are back on the Irish music web scene. The original muse was a source of inspiration for CLUAS in its early days, and I expect the new muse to also be a source of ongoing inspiration to the (almost) 8 year old CLUAS, even if they stumbled on one front at their launch.

Eoghan

By eoghan on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Rockchicklet, I think you're being a bit harsh there - even Hugh from the Muse site (in his post above) took Eoghan's comments in the spirit of friendly rivalry in which they were clearly intended. It'll be like Melody Maker vs NME (sorry for the painful reference, Mr Muse!).

BTW the only sure way to solve this 'bad writing' issue on CLUAS is to submit some of your own (good) writing! (your posts on the discussion board are usually good reading, IMO)

By aidan on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

i'm glad to see that you have qualifed who is the target of your smugness in your blog post.

i was a fan of muse 1.0 and it has never - never - been bettered. cluas borrowed a lot of ideas from it but never quite got the same mix as muse had before it was killed by rondorondorondo.

muse 2.0 is atrocious. yes, i know its early days, but it is atrocious. i give it six months (longer than nme ireland)

By rockchicklet on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Rockchicklet, you are absolutely right. CLUAS has never quite got the same mix as the original Muse. But then again we have had not a single eurocent thrown at us (while muse had an embarrassment of riches at their disposal during their original incarnation). My mind boggles as to what CLUAS could do with even a fraction of that sort of money.

Anyway, I'm with Aidan on the question of when are you going to submit a review? Drop me an email on eoghan(at)cluas(dot)com, I have an idea on how we could make it easy for you…

By eoghan on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

thanks for the offer but, to paraphrase michael jackson, i'm a reader not a writer

By rockchicklet on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

I don't see what the fuss is about Eoghan, the thing about user generated content is users will generate content, some of it good, much of it rubbish. Look at the amount of crap on ewetube, myspacker, bebo and all those trendy "web 2.0" sites "the kids" are into these days.

By Binokular on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Hi guys,

Thanks for your ongoing comments.

Rockchicklet - might it be possible for you to expand on your view that the site is 'atrocious'. As you have already seen, we act on constructive feedback very quickly, so if you have any thoughts on how we could improve the site, please do make them known to us.

Thanks,

Hugh

By musehugh on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

if you are willing to pay me a consultancy fee, I'd consider it. why should i give you valuable constructive criticism for free? i know that web 2.0 is all about user-generated content, but i dont necessarily think i should spend a load of time giving you my views for free which you can then use to con advertisers and sponsors.

By rockchicklet on   Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

In terms of news coverage and how fast it reaches the Irish music loving public, muse.ie has done a good job so far- just look at how fast the news stories for the Electric Picnic and Oxegen line ups hit the site. They delivered the line ups within hours of them being announced officially. I don't think that that would ever have happened as fast on hotpress.ie or cluas.com. I think that both cluas.com and hotpress.ie would have published speculated line- ups days before or the official line ups days after they were first announced. So you can't really fault them on that side of things. But I agree about the reviews section, it needs some serious fixing fast. Their events section is good too, you'd have to admit. I mean seriously Eoghan, cluas has for 'gigs of the fortnight', a total of four listings- all of which are in Dublin. Muse on the other hand has listings for all four corners of the country- north, south, east and west. How is cluas 'lending an ear to the Irish music scene' when cluas is ignoring the fact that any gigs outside of Dublin exist!!!

I think that if ever there was proof that we live in the land of begrudgers and cynics, this blog is probably proof of it. I agree with rockchicklet, there seems to be some bitterness between Eoghan and those at muse- whether it is Rondomondo or not. Why can't everyone just get along?!! I think that both muse and cluas are trying to achieve the same thing- a music website by Irish music lovers, for Irish music lovers.

Eoghan, you could do worse than look at the picture on the front cover of today's Irish Times.

By starstar on   Thursday, April 05, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Binokular,

You are of course right - much user-generated content is indeed rubbish. However any site that blends user-generated content with professionally written content (as muse.ie is doing) needs to draw a very clear line between what is user-generated and what is not. Not only did muse neglect to do this in the first days after its launch simply, but a glorious example that abused the existence of such a blurry border appeared on the site in the form of the site's first ever published album review (and - I might add - right at the time that their editor was out talking to journos about muse.ie "bring(ing) Irish music fans the best reviews").

This was just begging to be flagged by some smug smart arse and I wasted no time to step up to the plate (just as I would hope any similar oversights on CLUAS would be pointed out without delay by someone else).

Maybe though I should have gone about it all hush-hush and just emailed Hugh at muse with no one on the cc line but - hey - I was getting ready to launch my new-fandangled blog and in search of a timely and topical subject to kick it off, something - ideally - with the potential to get a few people riled. This one sure seemed to tick all the boxes so off I went…

Eoghan

By eoghan on   Thursday, April 05, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Starstar - please, please, please. Not the old "land of begrudgers" line, one that never fails to make my eyes glaze over. Trotted out far too often and far too easily in this country. Could we have something more original?

You are on the money though with what you are saying about the zippiness of their news and gig coverage. Muse.ie v2.0 is already - in plenty of of things they do - way better than CLUAS. This is not disputed. And in such areas we too plan to raise the quality of what we offer. But I wouldn't hold my breath considering CLUAS doesn't have paid staff, skilled coders, permanent offices, expense accounts, etc at our disposal. But do watch this space. We are a resourceful lot.

Eoghan

By eoghan on   Thursday, April 05, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Starstar,

I write the CLUAS gigs of the fortnight section every 14 days or so. It is not and has never been written with an aim of listing every gig going on in the country in a given period. It lists the gigs that I myself am going/would consider going to with occasional concessions to things that I think aren't up to much but figure lots of folks would want to go to.

I do check the listings for Cork/Derry/Galway/Belfast/Limerick/Dundalk/Waterford (a.k.a. the circuit) in addition to Dublin when compiling the guide it just so happens that, as I noted in the blurb about Joanna Newsom, that there isn't much going on in the next couple of weeks that I find in any way appealing. By the way, last time I checked Speakeasy where Amusement Parks On Fire are also playing isn't in Dublin.

If you want to make a more general charge about the guide in its entirety being Dub-centic then I would respond by saying that if a band tours through Ireland then they will almost always play a gig in Dublin but may not venture further down the country. If a band doesn't play The Spirit Store or the Roisin Dubh or The Savoy or Auntie Annie's or wherever then I'm not in a position to list it.

Ian

By Unicron on   Friday, April 06, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Hi guys,

Rockchicklet - 'con advertisers sponsors' is a bit of a weird thing to say? How and ever...

Starstar - thanks for your comments about our breaking news service. It is the backbone of the site, hence the space allocated to it on our homepage. Our listings will also improve, as we do not have proper search functionality yet, but that will arrive in the coming weeks. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any further thoughts on how we can improve the site.

Eoghan - As you can now see, we have totally separate sections for review content: Muse Reviews and Your Reviews. Also, we don't have an 'expense account' ;-)

By musehugh on   Friday, April 06, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

"Muse on the other hand has listings for all four corners of the country- north, south, east and west."

Which are uncannily similar to entertainment.ie's..

By Ohnohedidn't on   Sunday, April 22, 2007

Re: Muse.ie: your Auntie's favourite site?

Well they're hardly going to be completely different, are they?

By starstar on   Thursday, April 26, 2007

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