Posted by: Mark | November 26, 2008

It turns out that Babelgum.com doesn’t suck after all

I haven’t updated on babelgum.com in over a week. Last week I was pretty fired up about it in this blog. Here’s the re-cap:

I made a music video with my friend Brent Jordan. We submitted to the Babelgum.com Indie Music Video contest. The day the contest starts, Babelgum launches a new site, which as it turns out, is not compatible with Mac or Linux. As a Mac-user, I am pissed off, write emails to Babelgum.com and post all over my blog, encouraging people to contact Babelgum for their failure to consider the needs of the bands, filmmakers, and movie viewers.

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I didn’t actually end up taking the video down off the site, because a facebook group had already been started encouraging people to vote, by the time I was blogging about it . So I kept it up there. But I was still bummed. Every day went by, and I couldn’t vote on my own video.

Enter yesterday. I get an email from Babelgum.com requesting my phone number. A higher-up wants to give me a call. I oblige, and the next thing I know I’m on the phone with Nick Tacchi, a Marketing Director who is located in Milan, Italy. They are bummed to hear the negative feedback and wanted to talk about their decision and my reaction. We spoke for about 20 minutes, and in the process, Nick completely convinced me that their decision to launch the site was actually extremely well-thought-out, and careful calculations and considerations were put into place to try and minimize which members of the Babelgum community–filmmakers, musicians, and fans–would be impacted. I’ll get into the details in a second, but I want to retract my claim that Babelgum.com sucks. I think it’s very admirable that the company owned up to the mistake that they made and addressed my concerns in the extremely personal form of a phone conversation. So let me re-cap:

As happens with tech, there were issues with their site launch. That’s no mortal sin. The Mac player wasn’t ready. The site launch was ready to coincide with the beginning of the Indie Music contest, but last minute they all find out that the Mac player isn’t going to make the deadline. So they go into major crisis mode. What do we do? Do we delay the launch of the site? Do we delay the contest? Do we just launch? As Nick told me, they weighed several elements:

-first off, and this is never fun to hear as a Mac user, only 8-9% of visitors to their site use Mac. Therefore, we’re in the distinct minority. Granted, it still sucks to be in that minority, but we’re pretty small.

-secondly, Michel Gondry had signed on to be a celebrity judge of the contest, and delaying the due dates would potentially screw up that timeline, and possibly even eliminate him as a judge. That would obviously be a huge PR blow to the company.

-thirdly, the new site launch was a major improvement from the old site, and everyone was really excited to get it up and running, despite the Mac hiccup.

So, as I obviously know, they want ahead and launched the site and the contest on the same day, knowing that the Mac player would not work. My frustration, as vented in past blog posts, was largely due to the lack of information surrounding this launch. Their blog had no updates, and when clicking on a video to play it, a vague message of “Mac player coming soon” greeted you. That was it.

Nick fully admitted that their lack of transparency was a mistake, and I give the guy and the company huge props for doing so. It’s not easy to admit when you’re wrong, especially to an irate blogger, but he called me from Italy to do so. I’d go so far as to say that he went above-and-beyond any expectations I had set forth when I first posted about the company last week. It obviously doesn’t ignore the fact that the Mac player doesn’t work. He gave me a rough estimate for when that would be ready, and it should be so within the first few days of December. And of course, they definitely should have been more open about it. But Nick and his marketing team fully acknowledge that, and so deserve recognition as being a user-friendly and responsive company.

So in conclusion, this company is not a bad company. They’re a start-up that is trying to iron out some hiccups, and I think they have learned a lesson that it’s OK and in fact preferable to be honest with the internet community when those hiccups arise. Nick was also eager to share some of the ways in which they plan to improve their service for future video contests, all of which sound great. Babelgum.com allows viewers to watch hi-res, good content videos, which is a welcome change from some of the crap you can find on youtube.

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So do me a favor. If you are a PC user, go vote for my music video! We only got 2 stars so far, and I want to win this contest!

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Responses

  1. I enjoyed reading about your communication with Babelgum, but for me, the mac plug in still doesn’t work. I am running 10.4.11 and videos are not running.


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