We have a blog!
Isn't it pretty?1
Until now, we've been emailing the Encore community every few weeks to keep you updated with the latest changes to the site, but have always wanted to keep our emails short and concise.
We'll still be emailing you whenever we make big, fundamental changes, but a blog allows us to give you much more insight into the evolution of Encore without clogging up your inboxes. (There's also a second, more exciting use for this blog, which we'll be revealing later in the week...)
So, without further ado, it's time to announce one of the biggest improvements to the site since we launched back in October.
In the early days of building Encore, we really wanted to build a solid infrastructure capable of supporting the product I had been dreaming of for over a year, which meant a lot of time was spent designing the database relationships between musicians, ensembles and concerts.
Two months of time, in fact. Achieving this, and making sure the site was a joy to use meant that it wasn't until last week that we could begin to properly refine the search features available.
Before the update, this is what search looked like:
No apparent ordering of results, no filtering, and little context other than the name, instrument and Cambridge College of each player. This worked well enough to begin with, but didn't allow users to quickly narrow down their search in order to find the most relevant performers.
We spent a lot of time chatting to musicians about how they currently search for players when organising a concert, and over time, started to acquire a good idea of how we could help streamline this process. As a result, searching for violin now returns the following results:
When organising a concert and hunting for a violinist, I can now:
- learn a little bit more about them by reading their short bio
- view their follower, concert and group counts at a glance
- filter down to violinists at either the RCM or Cambridge
- filter down to first-study violinists only
- exclude anyone without Soundcloud or YouTube embedded on their profile (useful for if I'm keen to hear how they sound before booking them)
- exclude users who aren't available at the time of the concert
I'm sure you'll agree that this is a big improvement upon the previous search function, but it's definitely not done and dusted. If you have any ideas for how you'd like to refine your searches, do get in touch.
Improving search is the most obvious change we've made in the last week, but if you dig a little deeper, you'll notice a myriad of little enhancements dotted around the site.
Planning a solo recital, but can't find an accompanist?
Relax. All pianists on the site will be asked if they'd like to appear as an accompanist in search results, meaning you can quickly find someone to start rehearsing with. (Top tip: try to do this at least a week before the recital itself. Good accompanists are extraordinary feats of musical engineering, but they have their limits!)
Add me to this concert!
Have you been asked to dep for a concert at the last minute? Maybe you were always in the original line-up and the concert organiser just forgot to add you to the Encore concert listing.
Slightly awkward, but definitely remediable. Hit the "Add me" button on the performers tab and tell us which instrument you're playing in the concert. We'll handle the rest.
This is a feature that a quite a few people asked for - sorry it took so long!
I wish I could follow loads of people at once...
We know you do, and now you can. Simply hover over someone's picture when you see them in a group or concert, and if you're not following them already, hit the "Follow" button to make it happen. There's really not much more I can say about this one.
Website Import (RCM Launch Exclusive)
Really infatuated by Encore, but already spent countless hours meticulously curating the contents of your own personal website?
We understand that adding all of that to your Encore profile might not be at the top of your to-do list, so allow us to do it for you. Because we care.
Ok, so I might be teasing a little with this one.
Messaging is a feature that a surprising number of you have asked for when discussing the potential of Encore as a platform for finding performers for concerts, and though it's something we hadn't planned on building for at least another month or so, we'd be idiots to ignore the high demand for it.
We're now in the process of building a prototype, and we'll let you know as soon as it's ready. You could almost describe it as a feature-in-Haydn. (Sorry)
That just about wraps up all of the new features we released this weekend, and we're ludicrously excited about our official launch at the Royal College of Music tomorrow.
We've received an overwhelmingly positive response to the site from the Cambridge music community, and without wanting to get soppy, we'd like to thank each and every one of you who have indulged us in conversation about the site, or even just sent us feedback by email. We care strongly about building a service that musicians will love, and we wouldn't be where we are now without the wealth of conversations we've had so far.