I’m a big fan of Blip.fm, the “Twitter for music” service that lets you search for songs, post them to your Blip.fm page with brief, Twitter-like commentary and, if you want to, export that post to Twitter or another service. It’s a great way to introduce others to good music, and to allow others to do the same for you.
While my primary music genres are classic rock, blues and alternative country, I am in the middle of an A-Z survey of new wave bands. Using these two lists from Wikipedia, I am finding and “blipping,” the Blip.fm jargon equivalent of “tweeting,” a song from as many new wave bands as possible. At the end of this exercise, I’ll have the greatest new wave mix on the internet! In the meantime, I am turning people on to some great music, and the Twitter integration facilitates some good discussion.
As cool as Blip.fm is, it could be better. Here are 10 things that would improve the Blip.fm experience.
This sounds trite, but it is probably the biggest hurdle Blip.fm has to overcome. Between the catless bag holding RIAA slinking around looking for innovation to quash and the inevitable end of the Web 2.0 cash supply (undoubtedly heavily contributed to by said slinking by the RIAA), there is the unpleasant possibility that Blip.fm could just shut its doors. leaving music lovers sad and silent. Unlike most Web 2.0 services, Blip.fm actually has at least one revenue source- Amazon affiliate purchase links to each song. See the “Buy MP3” link at the bottom of the box below.
I have long proposed that services like Blip.fm be permitted by the priority-challenged record industry to pay a share of the affiliate revenue in lieu of royalties. Face it, lots of people hear songs on Blip.fm, especially via the Twitter integration, that they would not otherwise hear. Some of those people buy the songs. That market simply would not exist without services like Blip.fm. In other words, the RIAA should be thrilled about Blip.fm, and not anxious to kill it.
2. Queued Blips.
While the process to search for, locate and blip a song is not hard or time consuming, it would be a lot easier if there was a dedicated place to store blips until you are ready to post them. That would make it easy to search for and save a queue of songs and blip them later, one or two songs at a time. Currently, I use my playlist to queue blips. Your playlist is a separate page where you can add songs by clicking on the star (see the star at the bottom right of the box above). If you’re willing to use your playlist for this purpose, you can store songs there to blip later, but it would be preferable to have a separate place to queue blips without having to use your playlist page for that purpose.
For example, I don’t want to blip any non-new wave songs until I get through my alphabetical survey. But I see other good songs all the time on Blip.fm and via Twitter. There should be a dedicated place to save those songs for easy access later. Sure, you can do this with a third party service like Blipster, but it should be a native feature.
3. Multiple Playlists.
Speaking of playlists, an easy way to solve both the queued songs problem and vastly improve the playlist concept would be to allow the creation and naming of multiple playlists. Currently, you get one playlist (see the navigation box below; the 3 means I have 3 songs in my playlist). I’d like the ability to have a separate playlist for classic rock, blues, alt. country and queued blips.
4. Ability to Rearrange All Songs.
Once you have blipped a song, you can delete it from your main Blip.fm page, but you can’t rearrange the order on that page. You can drag songs around to rearrange the order on your playlist page. But I’d like the ability to rearrange songs on my main Blip.fm page. The lack of this feature prevents me from dragging other new wave songs I previously blipped up into the grouping of the new wave songs I am currently adding. It also limits my ability to control the genre, tempo, etc. mix for better effect, as more blips are added.
5. More Developer Interactivity.
On the one hand, I could argue that @blipfm is a clinic on how not to use Twitter. None of my @ twits have been answered, even though I write often and positively about Blip.fm, and the activity there is sporadic at best. On the other hand, it seems Blip.fm may be operating with a skeleton crew. I want to see Blip.fm secure its survival, and then take advantage of the built-in interactivity of Twitter and other networks to improve its service and build its brand. You don’t have to hire people to do that. You can create an group of dedicated volunteer users (like Blogger does, and like Microsoft’s MVPs) and let them brand build Montessori style.
6. Improve Embedding.
Blip.fm allows you to embed songs. Here’s a great one:
The problem of course is that gigantic, space eating graphic and the fact that the embedded player is just too big in general. The graphic needs to be a lot smaller, as does the player in general. Compare Blip.fm’s embedded player to the much more elegant divShare one (more on divShare here):
7. Don’t Get Bought by Last.fm.
There has been speculation that someone will scoop up Blip.fm if it gets in dire straits, rather than let it die. If that’s the only way Blip.fm can survive, so be it. But please don’t let Last.fm buy it. I tried to like Last.fm. I really did. But it is the Photobucket of the music space. Good idea, but horrible design. If someone has to save Blip.fm, let it be Google.
I really want Blip.fm to survive and thrive. I hope it happens, and I hope we see some of these features added over the coming months. If I am ever able to connect with anyone at Blip.fm, I will invite him or her to our next podcast to discuss Blip.fm in more detail.