bee there

In the comments on my entry a couple of months ago about tourb.us, Carl writes:

If you like tourb, you will love BeeThere.net. BeeThere has been live since October 2005, has the features you request here, and is clearly the site that tourb is trying to imitate. I would love to hear what you think!

Naturally, I can’t be sure exactly what inspired tourb.us but looking at BeeThere I don’t feel like Carl’s claims are fair, and having spent some time exploring his site I really don’t think it does provide the features I was requesting.

From a first impression, the design of BeeThere lacks the clarity of tourb.us. There are concerts listed for Grand Rapids, but it took me a while to find them, and when I did get there there were at least it was missing two key venues (The DAAC and Calvin College) along with several smaller ones, meaning the overall listing looked more like a corporate ticketmaster-style selection than a genuine representation of the local music scene.

I signed up for an account and tried to ‘load artist list’, expecting to be given a few different options but instead was confronted with a request to give unspecified permissions to a java applet. Dismissing that pop-up I was able to read that the site works by employing an applet that will read the contents of your itunes library.

That may be a good option for some, but not only did I found it overly invasive but as I noted in my comments on mog.com, most of my music is not stored on my primary work machine so the data wouldn’t be much use, and the machine that holds my actual collection contains so much music that methods like this are prohibitively slow. It’s entirely possible that some users may want to have the applet import their data, but it really shouldn’t be so invasive or the only method.

The final request in my piece on tourb.us was integration with musicbrainz and a clearer way to identify artists beyond just their name. The latter is a really hard thing to do right (the former is fairly straightforward with musicbrainz’ RESTful APIs). BeeThere provide some links which might help with disambiguation, such as recommendations of related artists and the option to tag the artist, but there’s nothing to distinguish their offerings from those of tourb.us.

What I have liked about the way tourb.us has developed is that by adding cities gradually they can make sure they get good coverage. You can’t list every coffee shop that hosts the occasional singer-songwriter, but by actively exploring the local music community a listings site can get a much more accurate picture of the independent music taking place locally than a site like ticketmaster will provide. As someone who loves music, rather than set-piece arena shows, that level of coverage is what I’m looking for.

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