I have written favorably about Blip.fm, 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, Blip.fm was too good to last. And it looks like the melting has begun.
Jeff Yasuda, the head of the Blip.fm development team, has announced that some changes are coming. And none of them are good.
First of all, the music available at Blip.fm 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 Blip.fm. 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 Blip.fm, the interface at Imeem is about as fun as a root canal. Compared to the simple elegance of the Blip.fm 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 Blip.fm, 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 Blip.fm 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 Blip.fm 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 Blip.fm 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 Blip.fm’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.