The first thing you'll notice when you arrive at OurStage.com is an icon in the upper-right hand corner that says "in partnership with AOL Music." This should be your first signal that the website is going to be chock full of mainstream music and very annoying animated advertisements, which of course it is.
Next, if you can look past those annoying, flashing, distracting ads, you might click around and find that you can play music, of course. BUT, it requires you to allow a pop-up window with the player in it. If you don't enable that popup in your web browser, well, you can't listen. The more you cruise around the website, the more boring it becomes, and the more you'll want to head over to something else, like TheSixtyOne or Uvumi, where you can listen to music without popup windows and without a major corporation shoving popular crap down your ears.
Now for some good things (not really): They have a lot of music, though it is not easy to browse at all. You can get to a genre page, but there are only 14 total artists listed on each page. How can you see everything and freely browse? You can't. You can click a link to "Show More", but then you just get one page of artists, with no way to see more. Here we are with yet another example of a major media conglomerate deciding what you should listen to instead of giving you the freedom to browse around for yourself.
One thing that is kind of cool, but still not very helpful to the music community, is the Judging area. If you end up on this part of the website, and if you can (again) ignore the very distracting animated advertisements plastered all over the page, you'll find an interesting interface where can listen to two songs side-by-side, and rate which one you like best. While this is kind of fun, it seems more like a trick to get data about visitors' likes and dislikes than a feature that adds any value to the artists being judged or to the user experience.
When it's all said and done, you'll probably click away from OurStage feeling a bit dirty, perhaps soiled by the filth of corporate greed and artist exploitation, and you might also feel belittled by Aol's attempt to force-feed you content that they think you should like instead of giving you the freedom to explore and listen on your own.
Sorry, that was a pretty brutal review of OurStage.com, but come on folks, it's a terrible website that adds little, if anything, to the overall music community. Correct me if I'm wrong, please!
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