“mapping the rock n roll genome”

 Band2Band is an interesting user created map taking the form of a family tree and is meant to show the interconnected relationships between musicians and bands. Unlike websites like Pandora, which are able to aggregate not only musicians, but genres of music resulting in an accurate forecast of musical taste, Band2Band is set up to visually display connections between groups.

It is possible to submit bands to the website that haven’t yet been listed, but to do so requires the adherence to a very strict set of rules. These rules, which (to name just a few) range from what to do when a band changes its name, when an artist changes their name, how to categorize super-groups and jam bands which have revolving cast of musicians – could be the reason why there is a real lack of bands and musicians listed on the site. When trying the map out, the first two bands that I wanted to check out weren’t in the database. Both of the bands, Dirty Projectors and Bon Iver, are less than ten years old so I decided to try something a little bit older and my next input, Smog, a band from the 90’s, did show up. With Smog, the first page that the search feature takes you to contains a photographic list of all the albums that the band produced. When I scrolled down I was also able to see that the site only listed Bill Callahan as the sole member of the band. And upon further scrolling I could see the family tree with 119 bands stemming from Smog.  The bands are hyperlinked, so you can go into each of their specific sites and explore.

I checked to see when the site was last updated and found that the copyright was current. How could it be that there was such a lack of bands in the database? Couldn’t Band2Band hook up with a website like or myspace music to automatically create a database of bands, band members, and albums to then create a visual map using that data?

This site, in my opinion, requires a major revamp. Although there is a link that allows you to play a short preview of songs by the artist whose page you are on, it would be nice if it could do that within the map, instead of on the sidebar. I’d also like to know more about band history that could be located on a subpage. I’d also like the map to be the central feature of the site, instead of having it placed at the bottom of the page.

As far as the map itself, perhaps it would be better to create an interactive web. This way it is possible to see the larger picture of the various connections within the music industry. Facebook, in its very early days, had a feature that I absolutely loved: you could map out how all of your friends were connected and through whom. You could then see who were the key members of groups of friends, an activity that I remember spending hours on until it was mysteriously taken down. Perhaps it could even have two options for viewing: if you want to get lost in music connections, a sort of “choose your own adventure” click-through flash application could work best. But if you wanted to see the overall picture, perhaps a full web could be shown with the closest 150 connections related to the artist of your choosing.

I do like how the site allows you to link to amazon to purchase albums. I also like that it is possible to generate random maps between artists and bands but so much redesign needs to go into creating a useful interactive map.