Welcome to the Social Marketing Machine

After a month with the new Zune, I'm still relatively pleased with it. At first the battery life seemed pretty abysmal, but if I remember to turn the wireless off it’s serviceable. As I said in the first post about it, I didn't really care about the Zune Marketplace or its "Social". However I was curious enough to check them out. The Marketplace is decent, and actually sells DRM-free music, though usually in a WMA format which I'm not interested in for reasons of future compatibility. I'm still looking to the Amazon MP3 store and CD Baby for my music. The social could have some potential to be interesting. It shows a mix map, showing the artists and songs you play the most then linking to other users that have played the same songs and artists a lot. Following the links you can find other music you are likely to be interested. It's a nice idea with a nice interface, but it really breaks down because it only links music that is available from the Zune Marketplace. So since the top bands I listen to are not available for sale by Microsoft, they don't show up as part of my mix and the links that come up aren't from my most listened to bands. To further muddy the waters, Zune has decided since it doesn't recognize the artist, it will just pull up a match from its store based on other things, like the album name. So Tullamore's "One for the Road" shows up in my mix as Willie Nelson's "One for the Road". Not that I have a problem with Willie Nelson, I have a couple of his CD's, but I haven't played them on my Zune.

My original impression holds up, nice player with a nice interface, but the marketplace and social are really only good for people that listen to top 40 type stuff from major labels.