Last year, I wrote about EMI's new Web portal, and speculated that the record company might use it as an aggregator site for EMI artists. Indeed, that's one feature of the site, but there's actually some other interesting stuff on there as well, including a discovery engine that lets you enter a popular artist and then finds EMI artists that sound similar. But my favorite aspect of the site is the "feedback community"--let's call it an online market research group--called SoundCheck.
I signed up a couple weeks ago, and about once a week EMI sends me a link via e-mail to a new survey. The first one was rather generic, although it included three sound samples of the same singer with drastically different backing music--standard rock, soft piano ballad, and electro/disco. But this week, they surveyed me about a Dutch performer named Sabrina Starke, who I'd never heard before and sort of liked--her music has an early '60s soul feel like Amy Winehouse, but her voice is purer (and less original). I got to test my preconceived stereotypes (they showed me a picture and asked what I thought she'd sound like), then vote on two videos. If you like to express your opinion about music--and who doesn't?--it's a lot of fun, and you might be helping one of the major labels make some decisions that actually lead to more good music being released.
My one complaint: the sound samples on SoundCheck don't work in Firefox 3, which forced me to use IE8 on my PC. (I didn't test it in Safari or Chrome.) I e-mailed them twice about this issue and got no reply. EMI needs to take a look at the market share numbers--there's no reason to exclude such a large chunk of its potential audience.