A Rant: Part I
Sometime in the 1980s I decided that when the technology was available I would take up (as a hobby) the task of acquiring every song that hit the top twenty during the years 1955 to 1969. This was the music of my youth (roughly, anyway, as I was 14 to 28 years old during that period). I would get all the music and somehow - depending on what the technology looked like - string it all together so that any of it could be found by artist or by song title and then played.
Well, the mp3 format came along and I learned about it in 1998. My first step was to list what I needed, and for this I used the then current issue of The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits by Joel Whitburn. Over the years I have worn out several copies and acquired new ones. I believe the book is updated annually to include all top 40 songs from 1955 to the year before the edition in question. It is a marvelous source and I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject.
The list creation resulted in something over 2,400 songs which I had to acquire either already in the mp3 format or on CD, from which I could convert them to mp3. At that time, vinyl and cassette were not good sources because the PC line in capability usually resulted in line feed hissing. Or at least the capability that *eye* had did.
So, list creation accomplished, I pondered the problem of organizing them in such a fashion that I could access them as described above, that is by artist or by song title. I speculated that I would have to learn enough about the PC to write my own software, and was ecstatic when I discovered a software product called "MusicMatch Jukebox." It was only $19.99 or $19.95 or something like that, and I would be able to access them by those two characteristics, and by slightly misusing the software's capabilites I could access them by the years they reached their peak positions, the highest chart positions they reached, and other characteristics. I'll take one, please.
MMJB was still a small company and its customer service was the best I have ever experienced, on or off the internet, even though it was all by email. I had need of it several times and never waited more than a few hours for a response. The responses were prompt, coherent, and helpful. On a couple of occasions a woman in Tennessee emailed me after midnight and I happened to be still awake and using my PC. We exchanged both technical information and social pleasantries. I recall fondly that on the first such occasion I asked her what she was doing answering my email at that hour and that she told me she was home and unwinding with a glass of wine. We asked each other about wine preferences. She was drinking "Spanish Red." I liked Merlot. She informed me that "Merlot is for wimps." Ah ha ha ha ha ha ha. Perhaps she was right.
In any case she solved my problems and how could it get any better?
On another occasion I emailed customer service during the day. I think there was a glitch in the MMJB software. I received a response almost immediately, from a male this time, outlining the steps I would have to take to fix it. As I began those steps my phone rang. It was the customer service rep, calling to walk me through the steps to make sure I had no problem. Can you believe that?
Alas, things deteriorated, slowly at first and then more rapidly, as MMJB grew in size. I suppose this is inevitable as companies grow, but it is in any case lamentable.
NEXT: MusicMatch Customer Service: The Decline