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]

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 – Japanexperterna.se]

Poison Apple – Why It Took 3 Hours to Sort Out an Apple ID for a ‘New’ Account

Apple on fire logoMost of the time, sorting out an Apple ID takes no more than a minute or two. You give your email address, contact details, set up security questions and you’re on the way.

…Sometimes, it takes an entire Saturday afternoon, including 3 calls to Apple speaking to 4 different customer service advisors, and factors in serious data protection and security issues, which cannot be fully resolved. All because once upon a time, some random person screwed up.

I wanted to blog about this, not only in case someone has the same issues as my mother-in-law (who I gave my old iPad to) but also as I think Apple need to sort this out. Hopefully someone senior at Apple reads this (you never know!) and they get their act together, because it really isn’t good…

The short version

Some woman in Mexico once accidentally tried setting up an Apple ID account using my mum-in-law’s email address (maybe it’s a letter/digit different). Apple said it was ok to keep using the account, as it’d never had any activity, however the Mexican lady had also set up security questions, meaning that she could’ve reclaimed access to the account at any time. We accidentally saw her home address and phone number when ‘taking over’ the account, and – if she’d reclaimed access – she could’ve seen my mother-in-law’s personal details, too. We can never fully resolve the issue as Apple cannot or will not delete the account, so we had to set up a fake email account (using Gmail), change its email address and change the personal details to something made-up – and then we could create a new Apple ID associated with my mum-in-law’s email address. Unnecessarily messy and overly-complex.

For the long version, keep reading…

Note: I’ve changed people’s names to protect identities, etc…

Email already in use

I recently replaced my old, beaten-up iPad 2 with an iPad 2 Air. The folks at the Apple Store said that I couldn’t get anything for it by trading/recycling it (not via them, anyway) so they suggested keeping it – maybe giving it to a family member. So I gave it to my mother-in-law. I don’t want to use her real name, so let’s say she’s called Jane Jones.

I wiped the old iPad (once backing up the new iPad), reset it and ran through the setup process with her. When it came to creating an Apple ID, Jane wanted to use her Hotmail address – the only email address that she uses. We tried setting it up, but it was apparently already in use.

“Jane, it looks like you’ve already got an account.”

“But I’ve never done anything with Apple before!”

“Are you sure? Maybe you bought something on iTunes years ago…?”


(“Yeah right,” I thought.)

So we tried resetting the password. The password reset email come through (hitting Jane’s Junk inbox) and… it was in Spanish.

“O…k. So you once bought something by Apple, and you accidentally did so in Spanish?!”

“No! Seriously! I’ve never done anything with Apple! I swear!”

(“Sigh,” I thought.)

We managed to walk through the steps – despite the language barrier – and reset the password. When we logged in, we realised something serious…

…The name wasn’t listed as Jane Jones. It was listed as – let’s say – Jane Naranja.

Click to read more!

A Small Change in a Big World… My First Edit on Google Maps

(This may seem a lame and OTT post, but y’know what? It’s my blog and I can write what I want and I don’t care la-la-la I’m not listening to you…)

Google Map pin badgesWorking in SEO and PPC, a lot of what I do revolves around Google. Be that as it may, I’m usually the first to have a moan about them, as anyone who’s ever spent five minutes reading my tweets can most likely attest to. Usually it’s because I just get annoyed that their Help sections aren’t helpful or their UX isn’t up to scratch, and business owners are the ones who end up suffering as a result.

But let’s face it. Where would we be without Google? How handy is Gmail? And when you’re figuring out where to go, how much do you rely on Google Maps?

Doing a lot of ‘Local SEO’ for clients, i.e. the process of optimising a Google My Business listing (formerly/also known as Google Places, Google+ Local and about 50 other things…), I recently had to sort out a fundamental issue with Google Maps causing one of my clients a bit of grief. Google were adamant that their address – let’s say “101 High Street” – was 100 yards down the road and on the other side of the road, so they thought that our map marker/pin location suggestion (the actual location) was inaccurate. The only way to fix it was to delve into Google Map Maker and make the change myself. Once it was done, they started to rank really well not long after.

I’d never really touched Map Maker before that, and to be honest, I didn’t realise that Google took user data into such strong consideration. I made a few Local SEO-related tweaks to help out a client, but nothing ‘proper’, if you get me.

…Until I noticed some woods near my house were missing a footpath…

Map Maker edit screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

Click to read more!