A warning before I get started on this post. If you are a music lover, like me, and you have an addictive personality type, then read on only under extreme caution. Music discovery website “TheSixtyOne” came into my life a couple of months ago now, and I’m hooked!
The blend of new music discovery through a kind of “game” is lethal! Combine that with the fact that it’s absolutely free to use and you can even, in some instances, download free new tracks that you find while exploring… oh God… I need therapy…
The site is presented using a stunning and free-flowing combination of AJAX and Flash (geek terms for “cool technology”), and while there is plenty of options and features to get your head around when you first get in there, navigation is intelligently done and it doesn’t take much effort to get to just about any part of the site that you want/need to go.
Before you jump in head first (and I highly suggest that you do), let me try and dissect some of the more common components that help you explore your way through the music, participate in the gaming aspect and reward the talented acts that bring you the continual, streaming entertainment.
I’m not going to cover EVERYTHING because that would take the fun out of exploring for you, but I will cover the basics – here we go:
Sign up for an account
In order to participate and get the full TheSixtyOne experience, you need to sign up for a free account. By signing up, you’ll be able to help vote music into positions of better exposure on the site, develop a reputation as a music guru with good taste, and unlock a wealth of other features throughout the site.
Go here to get started: www.thesixtyone.com
Explore the music
Exploring through the tunes is dead easy to do with little effort, but there are also some options available for you to hone in on the kind of tunes that you like!
The easiest way to find what’s hot is by simply going to TheSixtyOne’s home page where a playlist of random, top rated tracks that you can sift through using the green navigation arrows on each side of the screen.
If you’d rather stick to the really popular stuff, the really new stuff, the currently hot tracks, or even a particular genre or mood of music, you can get to your desired playlists using the easy navigational options at the top right of the site.
While listening to each song you come across, you have the option of viewing all sorts of information relating to the track such as bio information about the band or artist, song lyrics, tour dates, tweets from the band or artist, and view lists of other songs from the same artist or similar tracks from other artists. There’s plenty to see and do while listening – that’s for sure.
Make it fun – complete a quest!
The gaming aspect of the website, which I mentioned earlier, can be found when you check out the “Quests”
Each quest challenges you to listen to and discover new music in different ways by exploring different genres, listening to your favourite discovered tracks multiple times, listening to newly released songs, or by simply to use the service at a given time of day (eg. “The Night Owl” quest).
Currently, as at the time of writing this post, I have the following quests that I am attempting to complete:
- Pour Your Hearts Out
Max out your hearts on five or more of your favorite songs. (Level 5 required).
- Night Owl
Listen to the first five songs of posted between 10PM to 4AM (your local time). Why? Because songs that get posted at the weirdest hours deserve a little extra help.
- Creative Commons
Listen to seven or more songs with the creative commons license.
- In The Mood
Listen to four different moods on the home page. (At least five minutes for each mood.)
- Caution – Very Hot!!
Listen to seven songs on the first pages of the hot tab of the home page under popular.
Completing a quest
So what happens when you complete a quest? Well first of all your quest list is where you’ll find out about whether or not you have reached the allocated level of participation, before the quest is considered to be complete. Take for instance the “A Reputable Listener” quest below. I completed this quest this afternoon as evidenced by the “20/20 reputation earned” indicator in green. Now all you have to do is click the “Finish” button at the bottom right of the panel and your “two hearts” (in this case) and reputation points are added to your profile.
Completing quests also unlocks new quests… hence the super addictive nature of the whole concept. And your reward during all of this? At the very least you’re getting the opportunity to listen to great new music from bands and artists you more than likely haven’t heard of before… for free!
What are “hearts”?
Hearts are like “votes” in TheSixtyOne world. You can use your awarded hearts to vote for songs in a bid to move them up the charts and closer to the top play position on the front page of the site.
What are “reputation points”?
Successful quests also earn you experience or “reputation” points. These reputation points, as they build in your profile, help you move up TheSixtyOne “levels”. The higher your level, the more powerful your votes through “hearts” become.
So what is this all working towards? Well if you click on your profile link (bottom left of screen) and check out the “Achievements” panel in the information box (bottom right), you will get an idea of what you need to do to unlock new levels and get a sense of just how far you’ve made it in the total TheSixtyOne experience.
The screen shot on the right shows my “Achievements” panel as it stands right now and also indicates that I’ve so far unlocked 4% of the site. GO ME!
Share & get social
Like any modern website worth its salt these days, there’s a selection of tools available to help you let all of your friends know about the great tracks that you are discovering. Connect with Facebook, Twitter or simply email song links to your family and friends.
Finally, since you get your own profile when you sign up, there’s also the opportunity for you to start socially connecting with other TheSixtyOne users. The search feature isn’t all that useful for finding other users to communicate with, but reading through the comments left on songs you like by other users, helps you find new people to “follow”.
So there you have it, there should be enough introductory information there for you to get started. Make sure you come find me if you do sign-up. Not surprisingly, my user name is “masey” and you can find me here:
I’m off to watch the rest of the Canucks game right now… then I’m going to have a crack at the “Night Owl” quest! Come join me and let’s start uncovering some great new music together!
See you in TheSixtyOne!