Back when I was a senior in high school, I was naïve in many ways, including my determination of what was good music. Around that time, I recognized that my musical taste was less developed than those of many of my friends. This was not because I liked bad music, but because I had simply not been exposed to enough music to accurately determine what I liked (I already knew that I hated country music). One of the reasons I developed the impeccable musical taste I possess today is a humble website named Epitonic. Its premise was simple: with the advent of the Internet, several bands give away a few songs for free in order to entice you into falling in love with them and purchasing all of their music. With a focus on the independent music scene, Epitonic's website served as a place where many of these free tracks could be found. In addition, the site also offered radio stations and recommendations, in a less sophisticated fashion as services like last.fm and Pandora.
The biggest "Epitonic success story" in my life would probably be Pretty Girls Make Graves. At the point when I first discovered them, they had just released their first full-length album, Good Health. The free tracks which I downloaded from Epitonic were louder and more energetic than most music I had heard up to that point (with the possible exceptions of At The Drive-In and Linkin Park). With song titles like "If You Hate Your Friends, You're Not Alone," it was inevitable that I would buy all of their albums. When I purchased The New Romance, I decided to pick up their labelmates The New Pornographers' Electric Version at the same time. I ended up buying all three of NP's albums as well.
The other large online musical influence in my life has been Pitchfork, which I write about so much I do not even think I really need to hyperlink it. Unlike Epitonic, I still visit Pitchfork regularly. This is because unlike Epitonic, whose writers took an unannounced two year hiatus from the site, Pitchfork's staff updates every weekday.
But as the title of this entry makes clear, Epitonic recently redesigned their website. The good news is that since the redesign, the site has been consistently updated with new content. The bad news is that the redesign took the decently-designed Epitonic website and made it into a frames-based abomination with worse design than most MySpace pages. While I understand that the owners of Epitonic felt the need to do something new with the design of their website, I am not sure why they felt it was necessary to so radically break with convention in their redesign. Instead of making the site cleaner and more intuitive, the redesign makes the site more confusing and much harder to use. Had I stumbled across the redesigned website back in 2002, I think I would have left and never returned. If this had happened, it is possible that the short "nu metal" period I entered in the middle of my freshman year of college would have continued. My favorite bands might have been Tool, Linkin Park, Drowning Pool, Seether, and Evanescence. Epitonic: please save the children; make your site usable again.