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An almost complete site

By Scott Bradner

Network World, 7/20/98

I will admit to being a very big fan of Bob Dylan's music. I've been a
fan since the release of his first album in 1962. I was in the audience
at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 when Dylan "went electric" with
Mr. Tambourine Man. (We Dylan fans went through a long dry spell,
but the release of "Time Out of Mind" replenishes the belief in
greatness.) With this background, I was quite interested when I saw a
CNN "What's new on the 'Net" segment mentioning a site dedicated
to Dylan ( and quickly took a look. For a Dylan
fan, this site is a great find, but in addition, it is about the best
example I've seen of what can be done in the area of commerce using
the World Wide Web.

The site contains a wealth of Dylan materials, including a list of every
one of Dylan's 42 albums on Columbia Records, complete with a list
of songs on each album. It includes a list of 451 songs that Dylan
performed or wrote along with the lyrics of those he wrote. The site
includes an engine that can search the song lyrics for any desired
phrase. Also included is the text to a number of Dylan-related essays.
I've seen this level of detail on some other sites, such as one that
shows the playlists for (as far as I could tell) every concert Dylan has
ever given. But this newfound site has the advantage of sound and a
"buy" button.

There is a 45-second-or-more sample of each song from each album,
which can be played using a RealAudio Web browser plug-in. In
some cases, there are several samples of the same song because it
appears on multiple albums. In addition, there are a number of songs
that can be played full-length and a two-hour Dylan-related broadcast
from the radio station KPFA in Berkeley.

You can select an album, listen to samples of the songs on the album,
and if you decide you would like a copy, push the buy button to have
one sent to you.

There is only one thing missing - it would be great to be able to use
such a site like a jukebox and pay a few cents to hear or download a
particular song. One can imagine an option for users to select a series
of songs to be played or to be downloaded for playing and replaying
on demand. There are a number of issues related to payment and
security systems that need to be solved before this type of service can
become widely available, but I recently saw a demonstration of a
system that seems like it might be a start (/).

I recommend that anyone interested in selling over the Internet take a
look at this site and learn from what it has done.

Disclaimer: I have no reason to think that Harvard is a Dylan fan, so
the above exploration is my own.