‘BBC Music Events v6’: A Guided Tour

As Glastonbury gears up to welcome over 200,000 people to Worthy Farm this weekend, with millions more watching on the BBC across multiple devices, Product Manager David Jones gives an insight into the ‘Music Events’ platform, which brings over 50 major events a year to BBC Online.

This summer we’ve delivered a huge update to our platform for covering music events on the web, and I’d like to take you backstage. Bringing people together around live music is one of the BBC’s vital public purposes. There’s no better example than the Manchester concert a few weeks ago, but our experience on-air stretches all the way back to 1927 covering the Proms. I’ve worked on our live music output for a decade, from roles at the side of the stage (fun) to ones encoding videos at 3am in a sweltering office (less fun).

WHAT IS “MUSIC EVENTS”?

Our ambition for ‘Music Events’ v6 is to deliver the best online coverage of live music in the world. Codenamed ‘Eavis’ after Glastonbury’s inimitable founder, our platform serves a broad portfolio. It has to do many jobs, providing:

  • news stories and info about who’s performing
  • information about tickets
  • live video from multiple stages
  • hundreds of catch up videos and galleries
  • a lightweight CMS to quickly publish this content

I like to think of it as unique blend of Boiler Room, YouTube, Ticketmaster, IMDB and bespoke marketing websites. Actually, I don’t like to think of it like that at all as it gives me a headache.

The platform launched in 2009 covering the big festivals. It expanded to cover other broadcasts, music awards and our own performing groups. In 2015 we integrated The Proms, including a 122 year concert archive. 2016 was our most successful year ever, with millions of users generating record reach. We’re proud of this platform, and we wanted to build on it.

THREE KEY IMPROVEMENTS

Our design goals for v6 were typical of a mature product. We wanted to step back, clean up the design and modernise our technical foundations. We have refined every aspect of the platform, focusing on the core experience of empowering users to find great performances.

1 All New Design

Based on user research, we’ve made it clearer to tell whether you’re visiting before, during or after each event. Flexible modules reflect the available content. New mobile and large screen views showcase performers better than ever before.

2 Information Architecture

We’ve made it easier to find and enjoy the full breadth of our content. Browsing has been simplified into an A-Z view and a calendar. The calendar spans decades for Proms, but can drill into incredible detail for a three day festival.

You can ‘lean back’ on the new playback page, which offers a continuous stream of similar videos from each event. And if you want a more personalised experience, you can follow your favourite acts on the new “My Event” page.

3 Cloud

Lastly, we have completely rewritten ‘Music Events’ to be hosted on the cloud, reducing our codebase by nearly 60% in the process. Pages load much faster, even under heavy load. The Manchester concert generated x6 more traffic than previous spikes without a blink in performance.

Serious thanks are due to our brilliant project team, hailing from across the BBC and agency Softwire. I hope you enjoy these updates when Radiohead, Ed Sheeran and co. take to the stage at Glastonbury this weekend. Let me know below the line, or directly at @djonessays.

If I do say so myself, this an exceptionally good-looking website.

This post originally appeared on the BBC Internet blog.