by Iain on August 18, 2008
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:
And so far it’s really working for me.
If you like the sound of it join up here:
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.
When you click it, you get a neat feedback overlay (with a clear close button).
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:
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…