How eMusic Transitioned From Clunky CMS To WordPress

eMusic has a great case study published from the CTO of, Richard Caccappolo on how the website transitioned from using a clunky CMS to WordPress. While reading the case study, the first thing that struck me was the following: “we found that WordPress was an ideal solution to suit all of our CMS needs.” Anyone who STILL thinks that WordPress is just for blogs really ought to change their mindset. While reviewing the different CMS solutions available, Drupal became a strong candidate but thanks to the persuasion of Scott Taylor who is the lead PHP developer for eMusic, they opted to go with WordPress instead. The case study goes on to describe tips on ensuring a smooth transition, why plugins are both a good and bad thing, and how eMusic decided to use bbPress along with BuddyPress to provide a more flexible platform for their community. After reading the case study, stop back and watch Scott give a presentation on the transition process from WordCamp San Francisco 2011. Watch in full screen mode to read the slides.

If you could ask Scott a question or two regarding the huge transition, what would it be?


  1. I especially liked the part where they mentioned Gravity Forms and how their team loves it.


  2. @Carl Hancock – I saw that and was wondering if you did as well. Did you know they were using Gravity Forms before this presentation?


  3. @Jeffro – Nope. I was not aware. We’re always pleasantly surprised when we stumble upon sites that use Gravity Forms that we didn’t already know about.


  4. Take a look at what they’ve managed to do to They’ve wrecked the site now in it’s third day of not functioning. I’m sure they give great presentations. The actual work; not so much.


  5. Indeed, Emusic IS a great case study of how to botch the resign of a site and destroy a business. I really cannot believe how clueless some techie fanboys can be! Have you seen the result? We shall see what happens, but it’s beginning to look like this case study should be retitled “How eMusic Transitioned From Clunky CMS To Bankruptcy”.
    TECHNICAL SKILL ≠ INTELLIGENCE DESIGN — and a good web site requires both.
    I suspect that this disaster will give WordPress bad press, even though the carpenters and architects, not their tools, really deserve the blame. Go to the eMusic message board and see for yourself (


  6. @john – Well John, thanks for bringing this to my attention. From the outside looking in, it looks like quite a few people are upset that some of the features they have come to love have either disappeared or broke. Some of that anger I can guess goes towards people not liking change. However, if I were a paying customer and things that I used were broken without clear and updated communication from the people in charge, I;d be pretty upset too.

    I hope the issues can be resolved soon. At the very least, someone should be constantly updating the forum threads as keeping in the know is a 100% better than being in the dark.


  7. Speaking of communication, Jeffro, or rather lack thereof, consider this sad thread on the eMusic forum, Are there any other blind users of eMusic having difficulty …, by a subscriber who’d been happily using eMusic since 2004. Since posting this plea Nov 18 (nearly 3 weeks ago), there have been 39 sympathetic replies by other subscribers but NONE from eMusic support! Is this what web development is supposed to be about – Richard Caccappolo picking the pocket of a loyal blind customer while bragging (here and elswhere),

    …WordPress sped up the performance of the site, which is good for everybody. We’re looking forward to expanding the number of content contributors.

    Well, it’s not been good for everybody. He then has the audicity to warn the rest of you poor dumb web executives and developers,

    We’ve read plenty of horror stories about scaling and sites crashing. You should know your own needs and perform your own evaluation to decide what is right for your business.

    I’d laugh if it weren’t so sad. Someone should care more about what their customers need! Isn’t that good for business?


  8. @John
    Update: There’s still been no response by eMusic to the message board thread I reported above, begun by a blind user saying:

    …I access the web and other applications with the keyboard and a screen reading software program called JAWS. Since the upgrade and new look, I have not had any success downloading any music and find navigation very difficult. I have contacted support about some of these issues in the past and they acknowledge issues but accessibility problems seem to just get worse.

    Did WordPress or the developers ruin eMusic for this disabled user? Regardless, Richard Caccappolo and his people seem largely deaf and dumb to this thread. Among the 47 (and counting) replies to this post are many complaints by other subscribers with less severe visual impairments. I don’t suppose anyone can make a business care about its customers, especially a minority with special needs. There should be a law! Oh wait — I think there is! (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, eg., regarding business web sites, see the National Federation for the Blind v. Target at Disability Rights Advocates). What do WordPress advocates say about this problem? Is it really so hard to address?


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