Editorial: Hey Microsoft, can we get reviews for songs, too?

Welcome to the Social.

Or at least the somewhat Social. It’s the slogan Microsoft has ingrained in our brains whenever it comes to Zune and anything related to it–so much so they released an actual social network around the idea. The execution behind that network can sometimes leave something to be desired. And high on that list: reviews.

Counter point? Songs in their entirety can be listened to on a multitude of different mediums and even when they can’t, there are 30 second previews. For the more fortunate, there’s Zune Pass where you can download entire music collections and delete them on a whim without any reprucussions!

The problem: Well that’s not the problem. If the issue was because you need a better idea if you will like this song or that music video then the same could be said about applications. Windows Phone 7 apps are allowed to let you try before you buy them… and if they don’t (which is a poor decision), even the least popular applications get demoed on YouTube. It all goes back to being Social.

The Zune Social already posts every single song that you listen to whether you want it or not, from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Ke$ha to N.E.R.D. to N’Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” because you just can’t get it out of your head this week! Don’t your friends (erm, “friends”) deserve to know whether or not you liked that song in the first place? I shouldn’t be pigeonholed because I listened to Enrique Iglesia’s “I Like It” once and didn’t like it (just re-read this and noticed the pun, sorry about that). In fact, if you think about it, this is even more of a problem for Zune Pass users since they most likely test out their listening habits on Zune than anywhere else.

Adding reviews to songs, music videos, movies, and TV shows–especially TV shows and movies if you agree with the check-out-the-reviews-before-you-buy philosophy!!–adds that social entity that the Social has been lacking. My Zune Social friends don’t get anything from my current Social feed other than the fact that I listened to a song. But that doesn’t say anything about my experience with that song. It doesn’t tell you if I liked the song, if I hated the song, or if I feel quite apathetic about the song. I can’t tell my friends why I decided to give Song A a broken-heart, perhaps because I couldn’t care for the auto-tuning; I can’t tell my friends why I hearted Song B, perhaps because it’s just addictive. All my friends see is a stream of what I’ve listened to and they’re allowed to judge (yes, me if I’m listening to too much N’Sync) their own habits and try to expand them through me. Surely, if I play a song multiple times I like it more than if I played that one song that one time.

But what about the times I didn’t listen to that song? What happens if I’m sharing my account with other members of my family? What happens when I’m a DJ, like our very own Jon Young, and am requested to play “I Like It” every single time? Then playing a song constantly doesn’t exactly equate to being a fan of it. That’s where reviews and ratings come in, to offer a sense of balance between those margins of error and to better align you with other members and friends who feel about music the same way you do. And let’s not even get into television, movies, and podcasts where there’s no measure of knowing how you’d like that media.

A few weeks ago I was about to write a Zune Social vs. iTunes’ Ping article where Ping took the cake. And in a way, the same is true here. I don’t want to make this a pro-Ping argument because that’s not what it’s about… but at least Ping manages those social features slightly better in some ways. Thankfully, for now, you can post a song as your favorite on the Social, but will you post every single song you like as a “favorite” in that connotation? I wouldn’t. And I don’t, currently.

Reviews: a smaller way to make the Social just a tiny bit more social. Or at least a tiny bit more effective.