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An almost complete site
By Scott Bradner
I will admit to being a very big fan of Bob Dylan's music. I've been one since his 1st album in 1962 and was in the audience at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when he "went electric" with Mr. Tambourine Man. (We Dylan fans went through a long dry spell but the release of Time Out of Mind replenishes the belief in greatness.) With this background I was quite interested when I saw a CNN "what's new on the Net" segment that mentioned a site dedicated to Dylan. (http://www.bobdylan.com) and quickly took a look.
For a Dylan fan this site is a great find but in addition it is about the best example of what can be done in the area of commerce using the web that I've seen to date.
The site contains a wealth of Dylan materials including a list of every one of Dylan's 42 albums on Columbia Records, complete with a list of songs on each album. It includes a list of 451 songs that Dylan wrote or performed along with the lyrics of the ones that he wrote. The site includes a engine so the user can search the song lyrics for any desired phrase. Also included are the text to a number of Dylan-related essays. I've seen this level of detail on some other sites, including one which lists the play lists for (as far as I could tell) every concert that Dylan has ever given, but this site has the advantage of the addition of sound and a "buy" button.
There is a 45 second or more sample of each song from each album which can be played using a RealAudio web browser plug-in. In some cases there are multiple samples of the same song because it appears on multiple albums. In addition, there are a number of full-length songs and a 2 hour broadcast of a Dylan-related broadcast from the radio station KPFA at Berkeley.
The user can select an album, listen to samples of the songs on the album, and if you decide you would like to have a copy of the album there is a "buy" button you can push to get a copy of the CD sent to you.
There is only one thing missing - it would be great to be able to use such a site like a jukebox and pay a few cents to hear or download a particular song. One can imagine an option for the user to select a series of songs to be played or to be downloaded for playing and replaying on demand. There are a number of issues related to payment and security systems that need to be solved before this type of service can become widely available but I recently saw a demonstration of a system that seems like it might be a start. (http://www.a2bmusic.com/)
I recommend that anyone interested in selling over the Internet take a look at this site and learn from what they have done.
disclaimer: I have no reason to think that Harvard is a Dylan fan so the above exploration is my own.