Spotify is Missing a Trick: UGC & the Gamification of Explicit Tracks

Expletive napkin imageI’m a big rock music fan, a daily Spotify user and a new dad… It’s an wild mix.

Before becoming a dad, it didn’t matter what I listened to around the house. But nowadays I have to be very careful what I listen to, especially as I listen to bands like Rocket From The Crypt and The Wildhearts, whose tracks (and even song titles!) contain swearwords. Spotify doesn’t censor music, but it does its best to tag offending tracks as “[EXPLICIT]”. However it’s certainly not foolproof: for example, “Get Down” by Rocket From The Crypt isn’t tagged as explicit yet it contains various swearwords; on the other hand, every track of Hidden World by Fucked Up has lazily been tagged as explicit (probably due to the band’s name), despite many of their songs not actually containing any expletives (example: “David Comes To Life”) – although admittedly I probably shouldn’t be listening to them in the presence of a 16-month-old anyway, so not the best example, heh…

It seems as though Spotify manage the process themselves – whether automated, semi-automated or entirely manually, I’m not sure. It seems likely that they would give precedence to more popular acts, so if Justin Bieber drops an f-bomb, it’s more likely to get tagged more quickly than an obsure hipster-friendly band you’ve probably never heard of. And there seems to be no way to report tracks as a user – whether by desktop…

Spotify example - desktop screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

Spotify example - mobile screenshot…or by mobile… (see right)

It doesn’t look possible to do it at an album or artist level, either. The functionality just doesn’t seem to be there at all.

But if you ask me, Spotify if missing a trick here. Why not give users the chance to report tracks as-and-when they listen to them in UGC (user generated content) style? So when I realise that the aforementioned “Get Down” contains the s-word and the f-word, I can tap/click it, report it as explicit, then someone at Spotify can check it and add the tag if I’m correct. They could keep it simple on a mobile, but the desktop version could ask for more info (e.g. roughly what time in the track the offending word appears). They could even semi-automate the process – they could cross-reference each track against lyrics websites and/or use transcription software to see if it can detect any swearwords, limiting the amount of time that some poor intern has to sit and listen through them all one-by-one.

Hell, they could even gamify it. What if someone who reports x number of tracks wins some sort of reward, e.g. a free month of Premium? It seems like a no-brainer to me. Encourage users to do it – the more they find and report, the more they stand to benefit from doing so.

For me, it would make the whole Spotify experience more trustworthy and more reliable. A more trustworthy and reliable service means that I’m going to remain a Premium user for longer; it means that a free user is going to listen more often, listening to more ads and therefore enabling more ad impressions – or decide to become a Premium user themselves, too. However if tracks continue to be tagged incorrectly, I might switch Spotify off (or cancel Premium altogether) and simply put Radio 2 on instead – and that’d be bad for Spotify.

In the meantime, I’ll try my best to rock out (minus the swears). Wish me luck, mofos.

[Expletive napkin image credit – Julie (sewitsforyou)]

Time-saving Hack: Listen To Audiobooks During Your Commute

Commute image

Just a quick post detailing a time-saving hack that I discovered recently thanks to George Savva (@GeorgeSavva1), my effectiveness coach, who deserves full credit.

For years I’ve wanted to read a few business books but I’ve found that I’ve never had the time to do so – sure enough I’d buy them, but then they’d simply sit and gather dust on my bookcase shelf. I work all week, and then in my spare time I’d rather blog and spend time with my family than sit down and read a book. It’s simply an issue of allocation of time.

With my freelance SEO business I’m based at Welsh ICE in Caerphilly – from where I live it’s about a 15-20 minute commute each way. And as much as I used to enjoy listening to Radio 2 during the drives, George made me realise that I could put that time to better use. If I haven’t got the time to sit down and read books, why not buy them in audiobook form and listen to them in the car instead? I try to work four-day weeks (as I try to take one day per week as paternity when workload allows), so that’s 30-40 minutes per day and potentially 2-3 hours per week that could be utilised listening to audiobooks. In fact, in just a few short weeks, I’ve listened to multiple books that I’ve wanted to read for years, including:

…And coming up I’m planning on reading listening to:

(Please note: all of the above Amazon links are affiliate links.)

If anyone has any other suggestions of books/audiobooks, please let me know (either by comment, by email or by tweet). I recommend Tom Buckland’s marketing books post – at least one of its suggestions you’ll spot from my to-listen-to list above.

So whether your commute back and forth work by car, bus, train or tube, you might also find that spending the time listening to audiobooks to be really useful.

Update: I wanted to share a few great responses that I received via Twitter when I first published this post, which offer further advice:

[Motorway image credit – Highways Agency]

A (Long Overdue) Theme Change & New Logo for SEOno

SEOnoOver the weekend I finally got round to implementing a new WordPress theme on SEOno. The last time I did so was nearly three years ago (October 2012) and while the previous theme – SmartOne – had been an absolute pleasure to use over the years, it was starting to look and feel a little dated, so inevitably I felt that it was time for a change…

I’ve always liked the idea of using a plain, minimalist theme, so the new theme – Emphasize – mostly retains that feeling. In fact, I’ve gone as far as editing the theme’s colour scheme to mostly match the previous theme…! I’ll probably keep tinkering away and making the occasional tweak here and there, so what you see now might not end up being the finished product.

I also decided to get an official logo for the blog – the first time that I’ve done so. Previously I simply took a screenshot of the previous theme’s title (which was basic italic text in blue) and called that my logo, which was… naff. When I was asked to give a logo to the UK Blog Awards last year (I was shortlisted in a category), it felt a little embarrassing. So now I have something proper. Well, I say “proper”… It was generated using the Hipster Logo Generator. Say what you will… I’m happy with it. Besides, having a hipster logo kind of fits with the often tongue-as-cheek-as-f*ck style of the blog, don’t you think? 😉

What’s interesting is that I was recently chatting to a designer that I know via Twitter and it seemed odd to him that I was going the cheap/DIY route with this and not investing in it properly. I guess that I’ve always liked going down the DIY route – especially with the blog – even at the risk of aesthetics. I’m certainly no designer (saying so would be an insult to the design community!) so I know that it probably could be better, but for now I’m happy with keeping things simple.

I welcome any and all feedback – good or bad. Feel free to email me, tweet me or drop a comment below.

Have Your Cake & Optimise It Too – My Design Stuff Cardiff Talk

Design Stuff Cardiff logoOn Thursday 23rd July, I spoke at the 14th Design Stuff Cardiff event. My talk gave SEO advice aimed at the design community, covering SEO basics while advising on the SEO tactics that are most suited to designers: e.g. image SEO and link building tactics such as ‘web design by’ links, showcase websites and by finding non-credited images via reverse image search.

Here are the slides…

…And here is the video, which can also be watched on the DSC website:

At the end of the talk, Dan (DSC’s main organiser) asked the crowd if they’d learnt something new from my talk and virtually the whole room put their hand up, which was great to see. (Just don’t ask me how the book giveaway went…!)

I shared the stage that night with friend and fellow ICEr Warren Fauvel (@WarrenOF), who did an incredible talk about why design is doomed as it becomes more automated, and the ways that designers can adapt accordingly. I recommend watching it, whether you’re a designer, an SEO or if you work in another related creative/tech sector – it’s one of the best talks I’ve ever seen.

This has been my fourth speaking gig in as many months (actually, I’ve done five talks in four months, as I haven’t counted one smaller, more informal talk), with nothing else lined up now in the near future. To be completely honest though, I’m quite thankful to be taking a bit of a break from it, which will give me chance to concentrate on my SEO consultancy business as well as a few other side-projects that I’d like to work on. Stay tuned for some exciting news coming soon…

Beware: Asterisks & Other Symbols Can Ruin Your Tap-To-Call Phone Number Link

Smartphone in the dark imageWhen someone gets to your website, it’s important that your contact form works, your email address and phone number are written correctly and your checkout process is working correctly (if you’re running an Ecommerce website). After all, you’ve worked hard to drive traffic to your website – you don’t want them bouncing at the final hurdle, affecting your conversion rate.

Clients/customers are one thing. Imagine if your visitors were contemplating suicide…

The other day, I noticed that the Samaritans’ phone number on their Contact page wasn’t working properly if you were on a mobile device and you were trying to use the tap-to-call function.

Their phone number is 08457 90 90 90. However, due to the asterisk immediately after the third “90” (which references a bit of small print talking about the cost of the call per minute), my iPhone wasn’t processing the number fully when using tap-to-call. Instead of the full number, it was picking 08457 90 90 – an incomplete and incorrect version of the phone number.

As you can see above, I tweeted @samaritans to let them know, as I was worried it might stop people needing help getting through, and – to my delight and relief – they let me know the following day that they had fixed it.

So I urge you all to check that your website’s phone numbers are working correctly from mobile devices. It might be worth checking from multiple devices – it might be the case that it’s fine on an iPhone but not working on an Android, so don’t just check one and assume that it’s fine across the board. Check them all if you can.

[Smartphone image credit –]