The reasons for Myspace‘s fall from the zenith of social networking were the usual: neglect, user boredom, and a sparky new competitor offering an exciting, fresh alternative. Not terribly surprising. What has surprised me is the subsequent spooky quietness of the social music void that MySpace vacated.
Of all the would-be successors to MySpace, Last.fm has come the closest to being a direct replacement; but it provides poor listening options. Spotify and Grooveshark both have social aspects, although in both cases, the main focus is on music playing. And then there was Ping; as far as Apple is concerned, the less spoken about that car crash of a network, the better.
So it’s going to be interesting to see where new music discovery service Seevl fits in. With artist profiles, a comprehensive search engine, and integration with a plethora of streaming services, it looks well equipped to meet the needs of the contemporary listener. But can the app live up to its own, appealing feature list?
Straight to Music
It is evident, just by looking at Seevl, where its priorities lie. Everything in this platform is geared towards finding music — fast.
Vast expanses of white space and faded background imagery surround little more than a logo, a brief introduction to the site and a large, tangerine search bar. Even the header holds only those icons deemed essential for operation (and another search bar).
You don’t even need an account to enjoy most of what Seevl has to offer. If you do choose to sign up, the option to use your Google or Facebook account makes the process as near to one-click as it’s possible to be. For those of us who are sick to the back teeth with jumping through the hoops of profile filling, this brutally direct approach is welcome.
In fact, Seevl’s simplicity borders on bareness, although the neatness of the design’s elements and the smooth operation of the site suggest that deliberate unfussiness, rather than lacklustre under-development, is the force at work.
Seevl’s no-nonsense initial impression is mirrored by its music database, which has a wiki-like feel to it.
The search engine is currently unable to interpret incorrectly spelt artists, labels and genres, but search suggestions have been implemented, and the database is deep. I tried throwing at it the most obscure artists known to me (who have more than a dozen fans, anyway), and whilst Seevl was unable to flesh out all the details, it was able to find the musicians in question. As a result, if you know who or what you’re looking for — and can spell it — the appropriate page is immediately available.
Profile pages are satisfyingly to-the-point. When possible, a biography is sucked in from Wikipedia, and key facts, such as country of origin, band members, labels and genres are retrieved from Freebase and MusicBrainz.
Down the right-hand side, similar music is suggested, with location, shared bandmates and genre proving to be a remarkably accurate matching formula. In my test example, Seevl understood that the music of Cassius and Justice is similar to that of Daft Punk, thanks to shared French roots and a funky house style.
Profile pages also make Seevl’s social side known. Users can become fans of artists, genres and labels, and those who have already done so are displayed on the profile page in question. Users can be followed, as well.
The point? The following of musical entities gives Seevl a better chance of offering helpfully accurate music suggestions, and the following of users provides recommendations that are human sourced.
Incoming suggestions, and the likes of the users you follow, can be found on the Social page, accessible at any time via the menu bar.
There is one thing to note with regard to Seevl’s social tendencies, however — if you signed up with Facebook, your activity will, by default, be filling your timeline. In order to stop this, a brief trip is required to the settings cog on the far right of Seevl’s menu bar. Here, there are also toggles for privacy (stop other users following you) and email notifications.
Good though Seevl’s music database might be, it isn’t accomplished enough — yet, at least — to be a IMDb-type standalone. Thankfully, it has more to offer.
Every artist has five Top Tracks — essentially the YouTube videos of their music that have received the most hits, although this is a system that does occasionally allow covers to find their way in. Pretty much wherever you see an artist in Seevl, you can load up their top five tracks, but each artist’s profile page also includes their entire discography. Clicking on an album here reveals a full, playable track list.
For the lazier music listener, Seevl provides an auto-playlist, too, which simply serves up tracks from the artists you’ve followed.
When called into action, the sleekly styled music player pops up at the bottom of the screen, with a small preview of the currently playing video on the left, and the play queue on the right. Shuffling is available, as is the opportunity to buy the music being played.
For a more visual music experience, videos can be viewed fullscreen, with the player controls remaining at hand at the base of the screen.
This all adds up to a very nice listening environment, although I feel that the navigation required to reach each artist’s full library could definitely be shortened.
By no means is Seevl the finished product. It’s clear that there are areas that need polishing, and there is significant room for those features which are already present to be fleshed out. Seevl is young, though, and some of this tightening up tends to occur naturally, given time.
However, just in terms of the platform we see today, Seevl has nothing to be ashamed of. It looks good, it is intelligent and it offers free music on demand.
Last.fm killer? Absolutely not. But Seevl‘s simplicity of use and comprehensive track lists make it a very worthwhile, up-and-coming alternative.