RealOne Music Does MusicNet a Disservice – Will AOL Music Be Better?

Previous: Rhapsody Does it Better

Nearly everything Rhapsody does right, RealOne Music does wrong. Even the basic data in the index is inconsistent (artist names spelled in 2 or 3 different ways etc.) and frequently inaccurate (wrongly-spelled titles, titles linked to the wrong download files). It doesn’t help that you can’t test the audio associated with entries except by using up one of your paid credits (either a download or a one-shot streamed play), as there is no sample/audition feature in the service.

The most bizarre thing about the search functions in RealOne Music is the way clicks from result listings are handled. As with Rhapsody, results show track title, artist and album, with highlighted links. But when you click on a link, all you get is another search using the linked words (e.g. the track title) as search terms. Strangely, the new linked search often doesn’t include the current result (from which you searched on precise words by clicking) in its results!

I have spent a lot of time searching around RealOne Music, and I have yet to discover a way to retrieve an album detail page (and thus, access to all the tracks on an album) by searching. Even clicking on an album title just brings up another page of search results.

I won’t go into chapter and verse about the glaring flaws in the search functions of RealOne Music, they are overwhelming. The ultimate example of search engine failure: several times, I tried to find an item I had noticed in passing while browsing, and I was unable to locate the item by searching — I knew it was in there, but it could not be found.

If this is the way paid music search and retrieval had to be, I’d say “Give me Kazaa!” Fortunately, there is Rhapsody (not to mention MusicMatch and Emusic, both of which provide useful alternatives). It will be interesting to see how far America Online’s make-over of the MusicNet service will go towards dealing with the RealOne version’s glaring inadequacies.

Next: Back to the Overview

Also:

AudioWorld’s Full Review of Rhapsody (Feb.19 2002)

AudioWorld’s Full Review of RealOne Music (Feb.19 2002)

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