10 Things I Love About Blip.fm

I said I was going to write a megapost on Blip.fm. Here it is.

Here’s what Blip say you get out of it on their homepage:

Blip.fm | What are you listening to?

And so far it’s really working for me.

If you like the sound of it join up here:
http://blip.fm/invite/iaintait

It’s not perfect. The more I’ve played with it the more I’ve noticed little things that could be improved (I’ve listed them at the bottom). But you can tell the guys are working on constantly improving the app. And they’re taking user feedback splendidly well. Which is my first big tick.

10 Things I Love About Blip.fm can be read below (I’ve had to put it on another page or people’s mouse-wheels would wear out on the homepage).

1. Clear and Responsive Feedback Route

They’re using uservoice.com to manage their feedback. There’s a clear feedback link docked to the right hand side of the browser.

Blip.fm | Personal Radar | Page 1 of 18

When you click it, you get a neat feedback overlay (with a clear close button).

Blip.fm | Personal Radar | Page 1 of 18

You can leave a comment or vote for an idea that someone else has already suggested. You can also see that the most popular ideas have already been started or are planned.

I could probably write another megapost about uservoice.com – it looks really very very good as a customer service platform. Similar to getsatisfaction.com but looks perhaps a bit simpler from a user perspective.

But back to Blip.fm.

2. The Idea

I like the idea of Blip.fm. I think its strongest asset is its flexibility. A couple of people have said to me that they don’t see the point. I can see 2 major usage types:

  1. As a music enhanced Twitter. Quite often (in my circles anyway) people quite often post a tweet connected to a bit of music. Now they can post the music too.
  2. As a playlist maker. This afternoon I could have just listened down my favourite DJs tracks and had a brilliant time and be surprised and inspired by what I heard.

There’s probably a bunch of other uses for it too. It’ll be interesting to see how people end up using it. (I’ve just thought of one. You could use it for getting people to help you to ID tracks – like this track that I’ve got no idea what it is.)

If you’re the kind of person that has a musical personality you should give it a go.

3. Built-in Virality

Twitter

As soon as one of your Twitter friends starts using Blip.fm (if they’ve chosen to enable Twitter alerts) you start noticing that their Tweets have music attached, an interesting musical symbol has appeared and their client is Blip.fm – if you’re an inquisitive person you can’t not click…

4. Twitter Integration

As mentioned above you can use Blip.fm to post to Twitter. What’s nice is that it you appear to get 150 characters (plus your song URL). So it doesn’t take up any of your Tweet characters.

On the downside it doesn’t allow you to decouple your Blip.fm and Twittering – so if Twitter is enabled I can’t blip something without it going to Twitter (which I sometimes want to do). Perhaps I’m in the minority here though.

5. The Currentness and Currency of Music

Muxtape and Last.fm are obvious things to compare Blip.fm with. And they do a similar job of ‘socialising music’. But there’s something about the immediateness of Blip.fm – the fact that it’s what people are listening to ‘right now’. But not just what they’re listening to, it’s the particular tracks that they’ve chosen to share. Along with a short comment.

It’s the combination of comment plus track that makes it interesting. Or at least it is for me. It just gives a modicum of context. Just enough to make the track feel more connected to the person.

6. Status

Blip do a great job of handling status in the community. When you get 50/100/250 listeners you get a star. It just appears and it looks nice. It made me feel special.

Blip.fm | iaintait | unknown - unknown

They’ve also introduced ‘props’ that you can give to people. You earn props to give away by doing stuff on the site, like blipping, getting props from others, inviting friends and being listened to. Basically if you’re a good active citizen/DJ you get rewarded with gifts that you can give to other good DJs.

It’s lightweight enough not to be cumbersome. But substantial enough to make you feel a bit nice if someone gives you props. The value-system feels well through through.

7. Last.fm integration

The integration is pretty simple (but effective) at the moment. However, it would seem that there’s more features to come. Like the tracks that you play via Blip.fm being scrobbled into your Last.fm account.

Currently whatever you’ve just played in iTunes (via the magic of Last.fm and the audioscrobbler) can get passed to Blip.fm automatically.

last-blip

So if you’ve just heard something, and gone: “Woo Wee, I must tell the world about that track”, which I often do. It’s as simple as firing up Blip.fm and the track will be there for you ready to blip. Provided it’s ‘in the system’.

8. The System

Right then. The tricky bit. The bit I don’t really get. How it all works.

There’s not much information on the site about where it pulls all the music from. I’m guessing that it’s deliberately a bit vague being as it’s possible there are some grey bits in the legals at the moment just like with Muxtape.

Here’s the little bit of info I could find:

Songs are hosted all over the internet by different servers and websites. Sometimes the server goes down and the song isn’t available to play, or perhaps the owner of the file has taken it off the internet for good. If you are an artist and your music is showing up as “unavailable” the most reliable way to make your music available for others to blip is to upload it to your Blip.fm profile.

So there you go.

But anyone (if you’re a musician or rights owner) can upload tracks. Of course you need to read the terms and conditions thoroughly.

The option to upload tracks is quite hidden away in ‘settings’ which would lead me to suspect that they’re not really after people to upload loads of stuff right now.

9. Making ‘Friends’

Blip has got a couple of nice ‘friend making’ features. When you sign up it suggests a posse of 30 people with similar music tastes to you. Even thought the matching didn’t seem to work that well for me (I think I did put in a fairly odd bunch of tracks though) it was a great introduction. I got to see how it would work if I had 30 friends with similar musical taste on the site.

Blip.fm: What are you listening to?

Quite often with things like Twitter you don’t really get it until you’ve reached a critical mass. Giving you an automatic critical mass (based on your preferences is smart).

If you’ve just blipped an artist that someone else has also blipped it suggests you might be compatible. And you just might be.

Blip.fm | Personal Radar | Page 1 of 18

10. Lots of Nice Little Interface Touches

Everything has been made nice. It would have been simple to put less care and attention into the app. But that’s just not good enough these days. Here’s a couple of little examples. Yes, they’re only little examples and in their own right they’re nothing out of the ordinary. But they seem to have missed very little opportunity to do good things.

Like when you’ve made a playlist it’s simple to rearrange with no-fuss drag and drop re-ordering.

Blip | Playlist by iaintait

And if you upload a track it shows you (accurately) how your upload is getting along. A really simple thing that gets missed in so many apps…

Blip.fm: What are you listening to?

But everywhere they’ve just made a bit of extra effort. And it shows.

Now here’s the boring bit. The little niggles that I have with it so far…

  • No continuous play – if you jump between pages the player often stops – it’d be nice for there to be a kind of pop-out player (I know this has been asked for in the feedback bit)
  • It can be easy to miss new friends (proper friends) joining unless you’ve got email alerts on.
  • Selective Twittering isn’t availible – sometimes I might like to blip something without it being sent to Twitter .
  • Browser crashes – I’ve had a few spinning balls as have a couple of friends. Which is a shame.

But I still love it. So come join me. Get blipping: http://blip.fm/invite/iaintait

Damn, that took longer than I thought it would…

42 thoughts on “10 Things I Love About Blip.fm”

  1. ok, you’ve convinced me. I’m going to try it some more!

    I just don’t understand where the music comes from… and it’s a little frustrating that you can’t find a track – you have to find a DJ, then the track within their playlist… seems all a little backwards to me…

  2. looks to me like if the song is “in the cloud” already (ie, someone already posted the same file, or it’s out on a viable web address already) it plays from there.. otherwise, looks like its posting to an amazon s3 service. just like muxtape / drop.io / everyone else does.

    if you read the terms of service.. they’re saying that you own the content, and are liable for what you post & make public. and that if they get any questions, you are responsible, not them. :)

    works for me!

  3. Great post about a great new site.

    I am also keen to find out where the music comes from. There are a few of our tracks on there, but they are old versions that we’d like to replace with the new versions – I’m really keen to find out where they found the files. The tracks that are on the site are hosted on places like Odeo and myspace.

    I’ve emailed them to find out a bit more about the process, I’ll let you know if I find something out.

  4. Nice post Iain. I think I could really get into blip, the only problem for me though is that I hate a lot of the music people are blipping through twitter right now. I follow them because they make interesting points about UX not because they just redescovered U2′s One Tree Hill.

  5. Just back to work after long weekend away and this is the perfect way to ease back into the week! Though I am conscious that my musical taste ranges from the majorly embarrassing like A-Ha to more “cool” like Fleet Foxes, Vampire Weekend etc – I think that the selective Twitter is a great idea. At the moment not sure if I am ready to unleash my preferences on the Twitterverse…

  6. Loving Blip.fm! My new favourite toy!

    Another nice to have feature would be the possibility to create more than one playlist which could be saved and shared?!…

  7. I am obsessed with this. I sort of love the way you can open people into your own creepy obsessions with songs. So not only do you get to say that you love something, you can also defend decisions. I like that people will respond to my blips about songs too!
    elephantwhale.blogspot.com

  8. you might have already spotted this, but you can stop a blip from going to your twitter feed by sticking a ! at the start (which is then stripped out.

    you can also suppress a blip (blip it without interrupting the current song) and send it to the top of the pile to be played in turn.

    Little things like this make all the difference, perhaps they could integrate some of the these tips into the interface, although tool tips are a very difficult thing to get right.

  9. Nice bit, Iain! I’ve been unable to stop using the damn service, and blogging about it – http://tinyurl.com/5nhhpf – and one note – it exports not only to twitter, but also to pownce and Jaiku. Virality is further socially amplified when my twitter feed gets picked up on my blog, facebook page and friendfeed. I’d like to see a bit more game dynamic applied to the discovery portion of the experience – specifically, you should be rewarded for being the first to blip a tune – those who reblip receive correspondingly fewer points (or fractional props).

    The songs are a hash of search engine hacks pulling from mp3 servers and blogs. The entire service floats safely in safe harbor provisions, but with the RIAA/Muxtape smackdown today, I’ve got to imagine they are workign hard to shore up legal relationships beyond the Amazon click-to-buy functionality.

  10. So when you “blip” songs, can u actually send them links to where these songs are already hosted?

    Would be pretty obvious for a dj to have several playlists that listeners can choose from or mix up favorites from to create their own lists, these can be displyed on the dj’s page showing who favourited what etc.

  11. Nice post and relations with last.fm are new for me.
    Just created experimental Ning network http://www.blipfm.ning.com to extend blip.fm with some social features. Will reproduce this post if no objections from the author.
    Thanks

  12. Good post, thanks! I’ve also recently blogged about blip.fm and my guess is that the music source is simply based on a search engine. Blip.fm may be doing their own web-crawling or, as I suspect more likely, going via music search engines like seeqpod and SkreemR. This is the approach taken by mixwit (check this site out too, if you haven’t seen it before). The advantage of this approach is that it is cheap and easy. The downside is that you don’t have quality control, so there are some dodgy tags, incomplete tracks etc. Also, this could all ultimately prove to be on dodgy legal ground since most of the music would be online in breach of copyright. I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be a problem…so I can keep blippin!

  13. Never thought I’d read a random blog about Blip and see my picture amongst the users in your screencap. A pleasant and hilarious surprise indeed. Glad someone else enjoys Blip as much as my girlfriend and I do. :)

  14. You Abosultely can control what u want to send to twitter or not, there are 2 ways, first is using a ! symbol at the begining of your blips to prevent your blip from posting to twitter, or you can ‘unable’ ( not eliminate ) your twitter account in the services configuration, and just make updates by appending a + symbol before your blip, you can read further at the faq section http://blog.blip.fm/faq/

  15. “No continuous play – if you jump between pages the player often stops – it’d be nice for there to be a kind of pop-out player (I know this has been asked for in the feedback bit)”

    -open blip in 2 tabs…1 for surfing…1 for listening. problem solved

  16. Pingback: BLIP.fm «
  17. If you read the FAQ it tells how to selectively block a blip from going to twitter.

    I am going to assume that when you buy music through their site, they get a little kickback, sort of like how Amazon works for referrals. Or maybe they hope that will happen someday. I saw they have a beat version of Blip.tv and will split ad proceeds with those who upload original TV. Got to give them credit for some great ideas for software!
    Thanks for your review–well thought out, well written, helpful.
    Andrea (also at http://www.enneagramplanet.com)

  18. PS I think if your blip has a ! in front of it, it doesn’t go to Twitter. But check their FAQ first!

    cheerio again
    Andrea

  19. The way you’ve described the interaction between Last.fm and Blip.fm doesn’t happen with me. I can blip the tracks to Last.fm, but a track listed in Last.fm isn’t blipped or appears in Blip.fm. Apparently, it’s one-sided for now.

  20. I was told about Blip.fm by a friend and think it might be fun, but the site doesn’t seem to say anything at all about the legal issues involved. From what I’ve read of the terms of service, it seems to me that if you blip a commercially recorded song, it’s played from some unnamed hosting site that may or may not have legal clearance to have it, and the record label and/or the artist who recorded it can then have their lawyers come down on you, the Blip.fm user, like the proverbial ton of shit. Can anyone shed more light on this?

  21. * im absolutely loving blip.fm
    * i have not been able to easily explain it to even other music lovers
    * there is no easily accessible help guide
    * EVERYONE wonders where the music is coming from. i think its uploaded by users mostly although can’t be sure.
    * very slick system but can be much improved with things like continuous play as someone suggested.
    * blip is excellent for discovering cool new music! (and i dont listen to music that much because i hate sifting)

  22. one more thing: i find it hard to find things such as my ‘playlist’ (where those starred items go)?!

  23. one thing I noticed last night. if you reply and reblip a track that someone has posted, and if you’ve set up your blips to post a tweet on your twitter account, then the user you’re replying to will recieve replies on both twitter and blip.fm. this can be great, as I did just that and discovered that a listener on blip.fm was on twitter too, because they had the same username on both accounts. however, this could be a bit dodgy if a user has different usernames on blip.fm and twitter.

  24. “On the downside it doesn’t allow you to decouple your Blip.fm and Twittering – so if Twitter is enabled I can’t blip something without it going to Twitter (which I sometimes want to do). Perhaps I’m in the minority here though.”

    Just put the Exclamation and space -”! “- in the beggining of yout blip.

  25. I love blip.fm, its really great! I can’t really see the point in Twitter, it bores me to tears, but blip.fm has helped me to rediscover soo many songs. Thanks for the post x

  26. Igor Barbosa – you are wrong. You can enable or disable this function. Making it exclusive by using “!” or inclusive by adding “+”. RTFM ;)

  27. I find Blip.fm the most frustrating site I’ve ever come across! Most of the songs you wanna listen to don’t have a start and rarely finish – in other words you can’t capture the whole song., OR they’re unavailable OR you can’t play them! It’s a complete shambles and needs a major overhaul before thousands leave for alternatives.Why launch an’ idea ‘ only, when it doesn’t operate efficiently? Absolutely ridiculous! Someone, somewhere, tell me where there is a similar site that actually works!

  28. blip.fm is bollocks. for every song i blip there’s a hundred that wont. now they go on about blip a video crap. the only site i’ve found it works with it is youtube and they are bastards at the best of times. you choose a video that plays ok on youtube and when you find it on blip it wont play most of the time. utter shit!!

    lol. blip.fm only excists because people upload copyright material illeagally elsewhere.
    youtube was built through people breaking the law..lets see them carry on only allowing shitty home made non copyright stuff..i think not. probaby why thery’re getting big companies doing channels all nice and legal. on a save ass mission.

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  31. I have had a great time with blip.fm once you get enough followers, you get better access to more songs. The new stuff is great! And some of the remixes have given renewed life to old threadbare tunes. Yes you do have to do battle with idiotic self-aggrandizing “covers” but that is part of the game.

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