More than a month ago, The Sixtyone had it's first real makeover and although it seems that the developers are still busy getting stuff the way they want, it's time we review the biggest changes. The site used to be characterized by these three elements: music discovery, game play and social interaction. Today, the big question is: are these three features still the pillars on which T61 stands. There's enough to talk about so let's make this article a series by splitting it up into three parts. In this first part we start by looking at the game.
A year ago The Sixtyone was well on its way to become a prediction market game like the Hollywood Stock Exchange (movies), urladex (websites) or Media Predict (media, obviously). The points that every new Listener member received at the opening of an account were meant to place bets on songs. As with other gambling opportunities, the more risk a Listener took, the better the return if a song became successful. You really needed some strategy to do well and reach the leader board. You also needed to adjust this strategy with each new level, because the system was programmed to handicap higher-level Listeners. Just as if the virtual bookmaker knew that he would loose money on you if he wasn't careful.
The greatest thing about it was, that the site in fact simulated a real art expo, where all kinds of players in the music industry get together. Artists undertook all kinds of action to promote themselves and their songs, while Listeners tried to cut deals to make profit.
If it had stayed like this, The Sixtyone could have been the start of a small revolution in the (indie) music market, because it was the perfect testing ground for professional artists to find out what works and how well it works. Not only in terms of composition or musical quality, but also in terms of choosing tracks for an album and even dealing with fans and critics. T61 could replace the whole A&R department of a major record company, enabling unsigned artists to become as successful as their talent allows them to.
But unfortunately the owners of The Sixtyone seems to have chosen a different direction. For reasons not at all clear, they decided to diminish the game to a meaningless leader board for listeners and take away the ability for artists to promote their work or conveniently interact with their audience. T61's about page used to say: "It’s like a massively-multiplayer game for music junkies who are always on the prowl for new sounds". Now it says: "thesixtyone makes music culture more democratic: artists upload their work for review, but, rather than allow a stuffy suit in a boardroom to decide what's good, thousands of listeners do." Instead of using your points to bet, you all of a sudden were supposed to use them to support. While being well on it's way to becoming an absolutely unique mmombg (massive multiplayer online music bumping game), T61 decided to stick with the hardly unique dig-music-you-like concept.
Now, amongst the several achievements to reach, there's one achievement that nobody has yet reached. It's the Mosh Pit, for which a Listener must be online when at least 4999 others are as well. Let's face it: 5000 listeners is a lot, but it's marginal compared to traffic at last.fm - while T61 has the potential to be as hot as last.fm! All they need to do is take a few steps back and then start developing towards a real prediction market game. That'll be fun for music lovers and prosperous for indie artists.