eMusic started in 1998 as one of the first music downloading services for MP3s. Previously a subscription-only service it changed to “a la carte” policy recently to allow its users to download music without subscription. On 19 March Scott Taylor, who led the company through its change from a Java-based backend system to a WordPress CMS (Content Management System) in 2011, held a presentation at the company’s headquarter in Manhattan and explained how eMusic utilizes WordPress. The site is now a prime example for a successful WordPress strategy and implementation.
Scott explained that the company uses external Java Web services that return JASON for their main front end. All catalogue data for artists and songs is plugged straight from web services. Although the company uses popular plug-ins such as Gravity forms and Buddy Press, they have also created 54 custom post types for their front end and configuration. Behind many elements on the homepage sits such a custom type displaying different sets of editorial data. Examples: The main slider on the page (called a Theatre and each feature page an Artist), merchandising, recommendation- and catalogue service, the “17 Dots” blog and House Ads (a replacement for DART). House Ads is about company-own offers for subscriptions or downloads rather than external ads. Sometimes WordPress features are tweaked and customized to improve a service. A powerful key feature of the site is Search and Browse, a combination of WordPress Search and Elastic Search.
Taxonomies are employed to customize the user experience, be it regional or based on genre. Another prominent front end technology is the Ajax Persistent player that uses Backbone. Unregistered users can listen to the first 30 seconds of each song of an album. Scott hinted that in WordPress next version 3.6 supports its own native support for audio and video at the end of April.