The Infamous Audio Ambush

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m all for free expression and all that. I know people love music. I know people love to share their favorite music. I know that with Web 2.o people want to share their music with the WORLD! That’s all good. I’m all for it. Sign me up!

— BUT —

I have a pet peeve about embedded playlists and music on web pages and blogs, etc. My peeve is about auto-play. I really dislike when a page loads and some speed metal song starts blaring out of my speakers. I’m ambushed and the heart-spasmic panic is just too annoying.

Here’s the problem:

  1. MP3’s are at variable volumes and bit rates. This translates as some MP3’s are soft, some normal, some are on air-siren levels. Also translate this as some sound full, rich and clear. Some sound like an old 1920’s crooner singing ‘Paper Moon’ through an old cheerleader megaphone because amplifiers weren’t invented yet. So, one page I have to turn up my speakers just to hear the song. I do and it was fun but I move on. I surf a bit then go to check a new blog. Suddenly Pantera blares out my computer and scares the living (insert body fluid) out of me.
  2. Most embedded music players are in different spots. This has two problems: One how do I turn off the music and where is the volume control. In the example in #1, I get thrown into panic mode because I have death metal screaming at me and I have no way of turning it off! This panic of course just forces me to turn off my speakers until I can find the music control. After I do I can then pause the song or turn down the player’s volume. But then I have to go through the regime of setting my speakers back to the volume I liked them at.
  3. Some music is inappropriate for little ones. I would appreciate the chance to scan a playlist before Amy Winehouse’s rehab song starts blaring and I have to explain to my 7 year-old son what rehab is.

Now all this being said the fix is simple. If you add a playlist to your site, blog, myspace, facebook, etc. Just remember that other people visit your page at times and it’s just good netiquette to let them control whether they want to hear your Culture Club mix or not. If they want to hear it they will click the play button. But sharing doesn’t mean shoving it down someone’s throat.

Of course all this comes from a web designer/developer’s point of view and is strictly my opinion. Of course if you want to try out my theory, go to my SongSpot widget in the right column and click until you get to the Dream Quest song. Slide the volume up all the way and click play. Imagine that at 11pm hitting you in the face when you least expect it. Shock and awe baby!