Upon arriving at MusicGrid.me, users are greeted with, yes, a grid full of music.
MusicGrid presents new releases by everyone from love-’em-or-hate-’em blog darlings Sleigh Bells (“Like a really evil ’80s R&B record” according to one reviewer) to those milquetoast purveyors of primetime soap soundtrack cheese, The Fray (“music you can comfortably shop with your lady at Macy’s to“).
The grid-like front-end to this promising social music reviews site represents the highest-rated and most-discussed albums. MusicGrid lets its users review music from a huge database of albums, courtesy of Last.fm, rating releases on a scale of one to five. The site averages an aggregate score for each album based on those reviews.
Think of the service like a music-focused, amateur-friendly version of “Yelp for music,” as Evolver.fm pal Brenna Ehrlich (formerly of Mashable) succinctly put it back when MusicGrid was still incubating in Microsoft BizSpark.
Logging in requires Facebook or Twitter. Musicgrid promises not to share activity without permission, so you can write your five-star review of the Justin Bieber’s latest masterpiece without sharing your true-Belieber status with friends. However, it’s impossible to keep that secret within the music MusicGrid system, due to the Facebook/Twitter authentication.
MusicGrid provides handy buttons for listening to reviewed albums on Spotify or Rdio (sort of like an MP3 blog), in case you’re there to check out other people’s recommendations rather than write your own. If don’t use those services, short samples of the music from iTunes are available as well, with several options to buy.
As with any socially-driven service, MusicGrid’s chances of success lie with its users. One can imagine the site populated with music fans eager to dole out opinions and duke it out over the big critical questions. Prince or Michael? Beatles or Stones? What to make of Lana Del Rey? And when will we finally admit that Nicki Minaj can rap circles around every other working MC?
For now, most of these questions remain unanswered. Aside from a smattering of reviews, none of these canonical or otherwise buzzed-about artists have garnered much discussion on the site. Perhaps, unfortunately for MusicGrid, this kind of amateur critic’s utopia already exists. It’s called the Amazon customer reviews section.
That isn’t to say that no one at all uses MusicGrid. In the few days since I’ve been checking it out, new reviews have popped up here and there, mostly from the same handful of dedicated users. Encouragingly, every review I’ve read has been informed, well-written, and thoughtful. If Musicgrid can continue to attract reasonable, knowledgeable users, perhaps the reviews’ quality will make up for what this service lacks in sheer numbers — so far anyway.
If it works, MusicGrid could be like a curated version of Amazon reviews: just as open, but without the trolls.