Can Tumblr Be My New

Assuming the ominous signs are correct, and is about to go from cool music sharing and discovery service to an RIAA-ravaged skeleton of its former self, I need a new music site to take its place.  There aren’t any obvious candidates, so I have been looking far afield in search of a new music hangout.  While I post regular music-related content here at Newsome.Org, it’s not the best place for frequent video posts and short links to good public MP3s.

While it’s not perfect, I think I may have found my new thing.  Tumblr.  Sure, I’ve known about Tumblr for a while, but until this past weekend I hadn’t used it.  I signed up on Saturday and spent a little time creating my Tumblr page.

Let’s take a closer look.

Registration is easy.  Afterwards, you can choose from a ready-made Theme or write (or hack) your own, via a small but functional custom HTML box.


It’s a pretty simple exercise to customize your Tumblr page, and add whatever links and other information you want to display.  After you get your layout the way you want it, it’s time to add some content.  This is where Tumblr really shines.

Via the Tumblr Dashboard, from which you manage your Tumblr page layout and content, there are forms to upload or embed text, photos, quotes, links, chat transcripts, audio and video.  The cornucopia of sharing options reminds me of all the reasons Pownce was a vastly superior content sharing platform compared to the more popular and celebrity-infested, but feature-challenged, Twitter.


The audio and video forms allow you to either upload an audio or video file or to embed a file hosted elsewhere.  Particularly helpful is the ability to embed a YouTube video merely by pasting the URL into the form.  The process is as simple as it could be.


An even better way to add YouTube videos to your Tumblr page is via the Tumblr bookmarklet.  When you share content with the bookmarklet from a YouTube page, the video is automatically embedded in your Tumblr page, along with a descriptive caption.  This is a really cool feature.  If Tumblr could add the ability to do the same thing with audio links, perhaps via a right click, Tumblr could take media sharing to a whole new level.

There’s a very neat iPhone app, a Mac Dashboard Widget (which I haven’t tried) and the ability to add audio posts via your phone, which might be cool to do from a live performance.  You can also add posts via email, or IM.  And there are a ton of third party apps to explore and experiment with.

One of those third party apps adds one very important feature– the ability to play all of your audio posts in a playlist equivalent.

Once you add some content, you can also edit or delete posts via the Dashboard.

At the end of the process, you get a really cool page with mixed media in one handy place.  There is an optional Twitter integration, that will post links to your posts to your Twitter account, and there is the ability to add up to five RSS feeds to your Tumblr page.  One thing I do not like, is the layout of the archive page.  It’s ugly and, well just ugly.  And I don’t see any way to customize it.

Tumblr also lacks to built-in audience and sharing features (props, listeners, re-blips, responses, etc.) of  This is a big drawback, but if the empty bag holding RIAA is determined to kill the cool services like and all the music sales they promote, it may be that non-centralized locations may be the only way to go if you want to remain relatively unshackled.

While Tumblr has more than enough features to serve as the sharing equivalent of, it does not yet provide the same discovery function.  I’m not sure how to address that problem.  One idea would be to collaborate on and post a shared Tumblr blog roll of similar music pages (the Tumblr directory doesn’t seem to serve a close enough function).  A better idea might be to share a Tumblr page with a group of like-minded music fans.  That’s something I will probably explore if I can find some other folks who like a good mix of alt. country, country rock, classic rock and blues.

In the meantime, check out my Tumblr page for some good music.  And if you’re an artist doing that sort of music, send me an MP3 file or link and I’ll see about adding it to the playlist.

Snowmen in the Sun: the End of

blipfmI have written favorably about, the web site and application that lets you share music with others in a Twitter-like fashion.  I’ve been a regular user for several months, and until now have been putting together an awesome A-Z new wave playlist.  As with any fun online music service, however, there’s always been a concern in the back of my mind that, like Frosty the Snowman, was too good to last.  And it looks like the melting has begun.

Jeff Yasuda, the head of the development team, has announced that some changes are coming.  And none of them are good.

First of all, the music available at will soon be coming almost exclusively from Imeem, another music discovery service.  I’ve never used Imeem, but a quick look tells me we are talking about a severely reduced universe of songs.  A search at Imeem returned exactly one Star Room Boys song, compared to the twenty or so you used to find at  And not a single Steve Pride song.  How can you consider yourself a music service and not have a single copy of, say, Welcome to the Big Time?  If you want to hear the best alternative country record ever made or ever to be made, go buy Pride on Pride.

While you may not have to visit Imeem to stream the songs via, the interface at Imeem is about as fun as a root canal.  Compared to the simple elegance of the site, it is a chaotic mashup of train wrecks.  In sum, I have zero interest in Imeem as a service, and the resulting reduction in available songs will materially diminish the fun factor at, especially for users like me who look for old or obscure music.

Adding to the pain is a new limitation on adding songs from public locations.  Currently, if you know the URL for an mp3, you can easily add that song to your playlist.  Under the new plan, public mp3s will be limited to “legitimate bands and labels approved in our systems.”  There’s a sign-up form at where I suppose labels and perhaps independent artists can sign up to get their music included in the new database.

There are other changes.  The widget, which was crappy already, will only list the song but will not generally play it.

And, as the biggest bummer of all, current songs on your playlist will be replaced, where possible, by content from the Imeem catalog, and any song not in that catalog will “temporarily” cease to play.  I don’t know what that means for songs that aren’t and won’t be in the Imeem catalog, but it doesn’t sound good for my new wave playlist.

There are promises about forthcoming new partnerships that may allow additional content, and I hope that happens.

But until the music industry as we have known it dies and is reborn as a direct artist to consumer market, the’s of the world are like snowmen in the sun.  You better enjoy them while you can, because it’s only a matter of time before they melt.

7 Ways to Improve


I’m a big fan of, the “Twitter for music” service that lets you search for songs, post them to your 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 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 is, it could be better.  Here are 10 things that would improve the experience.

1. Survival.

This sounds trite, but it is probably the biggest hurdle 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 could just shut its doors. leaving music lovers sad and silent.  Unlike most Web 2.0 services, 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 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, 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  In other words, the RIAA should be thrilled about, 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 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 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 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, and the activity there is sporadic at best.  On the other hand, it seems may be operating with a skeleton crew.  I want to see 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. 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’s embedded player to the much more elegant divShare one (more on divShare here):

7. Don’t Get Bought by

There has been speculation that someone will scoop up if it gets in dire straits, rather than let it die.  If that’s the only way can survive, so be it.  But please don’t let buy it.  I tried to like I really did.  But it is the Photobucket of the music space.  Good idea, but horrible design.  If someone has to save, let it be Google.

I really want 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, I will invite him or her to our next podcast to discuss in more detail. vs

You have to give credit where credit is due.  These mixtape services are resilient.  In its futile effort to stuff the cat back in the bag, the RIAA keeps shutting them down.  And like weeds, they pop right back up.

The latest mixtape service to cross my radar is  Let me tell you- I have made a mixtape or two in my day.  I remember sitting by the FM radio for hours with my Maxell cassette tape ready to go.  I’d record the start of every song, and if it was one I didn’t want (as were most of them), I’d just rewind and wait for the next song.  It took forever, but I created some awesome mixes.  My mixtape glory years were from 1982 to 1985, courtesy of Vanderbilt’s WRVU.  I taped Webb Wilder, the Beat Farmers, Raging Fire, Love Tractor, the dBs, you name it.  Later, when I had enough money to actually buy tapes and CDs, I made a few mixtapes for the girls of the moment.  Hey, it could have been worse.  It could have been poetry.  Well, come to think of it, I might have done that too, but let’s not talk about that.

So, given my illustrious mixtape history, I decided to give a spin.

And since I am a fan of, a similar- though not identical- service, I think I’ll compare the two.

Registration is as easy as it can be.  This is all there is to it.


Fill in the blanks, type the captcha (note the refresh and speaker buttons, to help you through the process), and you’re done.  Once you login, you’re presented with a simple black and gray interface.  It’s refreshingly uncluttered.


The gray column includes your library of saved songs, two pre-set playlists: popular songs and recently played songs.  These pre-set playlists show the day’s most popular songs and songs that were recently played by users.  Today’s most popular song was Flashdance.  Flashdance!?  Jeezus.

Below those are your playlists.  You can see that I have created two so far.

To add songs to your library and/or a playlist, you search via a search box at the top right of the screen.


When you get results, you can drag songs into your library or a playlist.


The search process is fast, but I noticed that a lot of songs appearing in the search results are not actually available.  If you click on a song that’s not available, the player will first look for another copy of that song in the database (good) and, if one isn’t available, play the next available song in the list (bad).  Because the next available song is most likely a different song, I don’t like that feature.  Like, you can add the URL of a specific MP3 to add it to your mix.  This feature is not readily apparent, however- click in the +MP3 button at the top right of the song list window (the one just below) to add the URL.

Once you’ve added the songs to your playlist, click on it, and the song list appears.


From this screen, you can rearrange songs, edit the artist and title information, get information about the song or buy the song via a handy link to Amazon.  In a neat design feature, the link leads to the Amazon download page, if one exists, as opposed to the CD page. has two features that lacks.  You can easily rearrange the order of your songs, and you can add songs to your library to store until you decide to add them to a playlist.  On the other hand, there are not as many songs in the database, but it’s still in beta so more songs will likely be added over time.  I also noted that MixTape uses music search engine SeeqPod.  SeeqPod is being sued by Warner Music, so there is at least some question as to the longevity of at least that part of the search function.  For all I know, may use SeeqPod too.

Once you create your mix, you are undoubtedly anxious to share it with your friends, love interest, dog, etc.  There are two ways to do this.  Via a link (handy for email) and by embedding the playlist on your site.  Here’s one of my playlists (the first song is dedicated to all those cats on Twitter with arrogant Fg/Fs ratios):

Tell me that Jean Knight song doesn’t rock!  People who’ve known me for a long time have told me the fourth song reminds them of me.  That used to irritate me, but the older I get the more I kind of like the thought.  I ain’t asking nobody for nothin’, and all that.’s embedded player is more functionally and aesthetically pleasing than’s.

I’ve been a user for a few weeks, and have really enjoyed it.  One of the its best features is neat integration with Twitter, which let’s you automatically post songs to Twitter as you “blip” or add them.  Lots of people blip songs into Twitter regularly.  Of course song blips get in the way of all the rampant self-promotion that has become the main course on Twitter, so some people don’t like it.

Like, makes registration a breeze.


Fill out two blanks, click and presto, you have your very own page to fill with great music.


To add a song, you search for it in the search box.


You can preview the songs, and you should because some of them will be unavailable- though I find the frequency to be less than at  I find the searching and adding process on to be better that at, but not by a great margin.  There are also more songs to be found in the database, though as noted above, is new and its database will likely grow.

Once you find a song you like, you can “blip” it or add it to your song list, with a witty comment.


Click OK, and the song gets added to your page, to the front page, and, if you so-configure your account, to Twitter.


If you have your account configured to post to Twitter automatically, you can add an exclamation point (!) to the beginning of the message, and that particular song will not be posted to Twitter.

You can also give other users (and receive from them) “props” by clicking a little thumbs up button below a song you particularly like.  Props are calculated and your number of props appears at the right hand side of your page.

As noted above, there is no way to rearrange the songs in your song list, though you can delete songs.  It would also be nice to have a place to hold songs you want to “blip” later- sort of like’s Library.  The sharing features are not as robust on either.  The primary methods of sharing are to share the link for your page and to post your “blips” to Twitter.  There is a third party Facebook app, but it didn’t work for me.  There is a widget you can embed on your site, but the gigantic logo is too much of a space eater.  My inquiry about that went unanswered.  Not a wise practice, particularly when the question comes from someone using and writing about your service.

You can, however, embed individual songs.

That is one sad and beautiful song.


I think both services have a lot to offer.  At the moment, if I could only use one, it would be, because I think the interface is more mature and elegant, but if grows its database and reduces the number of unavailable songs in its search results, its superior arranging and sharing capabilities would give it an edge.

Both are reasonably well designed and fun.  And that’s good for everybody.

Now, if they can just stay in business.