RIM announces new $5 BBM Music service focused on the social experience

RIM announced the new BBM Music service that provides a unique way to increase the songs available to you and share your music experience through BBM.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributor writer on

I know it may sound crazy during this day and age of the iPhone, LTE Android phones, and the super slick Windows Phone 7 OS, but I moved from Android to a new BlackBerry Bold 9930 on Verizon this week after spending some time with the new BlackBerry lineup (see my review). The fact that HP dropped the webOS TouchPad also pushed me back to using my PlayBook and I am loving the integration with the Bold 9930, which was something we thought we would see with webOS tablets and phones. People have stated that a platform needs a solid ecosystem to compete and RIM does well with BBM. Tonight, RIM announced yet another new service that confirms my move to RIM and BlackBerry was a smart move with their upcoming BBM Music service.

As a person who has a small music collection and enjoys music discovery, check out my Streaming Music Showdown feature, I will be paying for this $4.99 monthly service as soon as I can. I would love to see a study that looks at "unlimited" music services to see how many different songs people actually listen to and my experiences and conversations with people lead me to believe it is not as large of a number as you might think. I am scheduled to receive a beta invite to start testing out this new music service tomorrow when the service is activated as a private beta. If you have a BlackBerry smartphone and are interested in testing out the service, follow me over on Twitter and I will give out beta invites that RIM sends my way.

This new BBM Music service is not piggybacked on any existing service and was worked out with artists and labels by RIM and is a RIM service. It will launch tomorrow as a closed limited beta in the U.S., Canada, and the UK and will launch in many more countries by the end of the year, including Australia, Columbia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the UAE.

As stated in the press release, here are the key features of BBM Music:

  • Build a personal music profile with 50 of your favorite songs. You can refresh your profile by swapping out up to 25 songs each month.
  • Invite your BBM friends to subscribe to BBM Music and to join your BBM Music Community.
  • With each friend that is added to BBM Music, you grow your music collection since the songs from the profile of each BBM Music friend are available to you at any time.
  • Up to 50 tracks from your personal profile are shared with your BBM Music Community, and each member of your community shares up to 50 songs from their profile with you.
  • Enjoy a truly social community-based music experience – the more friends who join your community, the more songs you can listen to.
  • Easily discover music that your BBM Music friends are listening to, and comment on your friends? songs and playlists.
  • You can create multiple playlists from music in your profile as well as all of your friends? profiles, and with one click you can shuffle the entire collection of music from your BBM Music Community. You can even see which friend contributed each song while it plays.
  • Within your BBM Music app, you also see a visual timeline that shows the recent updates of all users within your community. It gives you a chronological view of community updates, including who added new friends, which songs were added or removed, which playlists were created and what comments were made by your BBM Music friends.
  • Listen to Full Tracks - BBM Music subscribers can listen to full tracks from their friends? profiles – not just previews.
  • Offline Listening - Music can be saved to smartphones for offline listening, allowing users to access songs even when they don?t have wireless coverage.
  • Topping the Charts – Keep track of how many friends are listening to your tracks.

I chatted with Alistair Mitchell, VP BBM Platform & Integrated Services, about the new service to try to understand how it all works. So to be clear, you pay $4.99/month (skip a cup of latte for it) and then can select 50 songs from the collection of about 10 million titles to build your personal music profile. You then invite friends and gather in a BBM Music Community. You will then be able to enjoy (stream or download and listen offline) your own collection and the songs in each of your friends' collections (they each share 50 songs each) so as you can see the more friends you have the larger your available collection becomes. This reminds me of the days when we would collect music CDs and share them with friends and I think this social interaction and sharing is a good move by RIM that we are starting to see on services such as Spotify and Rdio too. The service really isn't about listening to the 10 million songs in the service database, but about the social community experience through BBM.

You can create playlists from your profile and from your friends' profiles too so you won't have to listen to all the songs in your friends' collections. There is some other fun features built into the service such as the ability to see how many friends are listening to songs from your profile. You can switch out up to 25 songs in a month, but if you have a large number of friends in your community then you should have more than enough music to enjoy.

This is a unique service and it seems RIM may have figured out a good way to optimize the music and social experience. I look forward to trying it out and if you are interested follow me on Twitter and let me know you want an invite to the service. I have been using Slacker Radio on the BlackBerry devices for a couple of weeks, but at half the price and a lot more social integration it is highly likely I will be moving to BBM Music.


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