BBM Music launched in Canada, the U.S. and Australia yesterday and has received the usual negative feedback from mostly-American news outlets. This is nothing new as RIM has received nothing but negative press for the past year or so. Deservingly so? Yes and no. My main gripe about RIM is that they fail to deliver on their promises over and over (like a good politician). This typically comes in forms of product delays and pushed back OS releases. Yet, anal-ists…I mean, analysts overlook that RIM continues to grow their subscriber base around the world except in the United States. But, god forbid a non-American Wall Street traded company do well! I honestly think if RIM moved their headquarters from Waterloo to Silicon Valley, Wall Street analysts would be more lenient on their stock. This isn’t a blog post about defending RIM however.
I’m reviewing the BBM Music service after actually having used it, unlike the tons of reviews on the web stating why it is a failure without having given it a chance. BBM Music is a cloud based music service that allows users to add up to 50 songs to their personal playlist and gives access to the music on the playlists of fellow BBM Music buddies. So the key is having a lot of BBM Music buddies so that you can grow your music library. The more buddies you have, the more music you have access to. BBM Music is free for up to 60 days, and after that it’s $4.99/month. It’s important to note that your BBM buddies can be kept separate from your BlackBerry Messenger contacts. This is important to me because I don’t want to talk to all the weridos who are also my music sources. You are allowed to change 25 of your personal tracks every month. That's 25 reasons to update your twitter or facebook status every month!!
The question arises, “Wait, what if I have no friends? That means I only get to listen to 50 songs?” Yes. But I don’t have any friends either and I have over a thousand songs on my BBM Music playlist after just one day. How? Post your PIN on forums like CrackBerry.com and you will get tons of people who also have no friends that want to share their playlists with you and vice versa. Think of it as a no-strings-attached relationship for music. You don’t have to know their name, life story, emotional status, you just use them for their music and they will do the same to you. Of course, you can add your BBM contacts as BBM Music contacts as well. It’s integrated pretty well. There’s also built in chats in BBM Music, and you can comment on other peoples’ music if you choose.
I also want to mention that even though BBM Music is cloud based, you can cache songs so that you can listen to them when you are “offline”. It works over cellular networks and Wi-Fi. I would imagine constant streaming of new (un-cached) tracks over cellular would use up a decent amount of data bandwidth, but everyone has unlimited data plans these days anyways right? (And to those who don’t….well, you should).
How does the music sound? A lot of people overlook this. In fact, I have yet to see a review that goes over how the actual sound quality is. This is a pretty good indication of where peoples’ priorities lay. For those who care, it doesn’t sound bad. It’s not audiophile quality by any means, but then again, what streaming service is? I would say the quality is comparable to XM Radio Online+, which is 128kbps encoded in AAC+ (which sounds better than 128kbps encoded mp3s).
The music selection is good. Actually it’s great. You can get songs from major labels like Sony, Warner Music, UMG, and a bunch of indie distributors. I could find almost every song I looked for. At this point you’re expecting me to say why BBM Music will succeed and how it’s the greatest thing ever. No. Not quite. It all depends on how RIM markets this. I see potential in this but I’m not convinced that RIM can pull it off. If this service was launched two years ago I could see it gain traction, but now? It has to compete with other cloud music services and internet radio like Slacker Radio and XM Radio Online. In my opinion, it will only be successful if it is a viable replacement for radio and personal mp3 players. For that to happen, it has a long way to go. This leads to Vic’s Keys to BBM Music Success, brought to you by Carlsberg:
- Featured playlists from celebrities. How cool would it be if you could tap into 50 Cent’s or Paul Bernardo’s playlist to hear what’s playing on their headphones?
- Make deals with artists to release exclusive content on the BBM Music Cloud library.
- Introduce a web browser client to allow subscribers to listen to their playlists when they are at their computers.
- Implement a version of BBM Music for the deaf.
- Increase the number of tracks each subscriber can have. Fifty songs is too little for those who have no friends and refuse to make any.
- Easy-to-navigate search capabilities to sort music and make playlists.
- Allow unsigned artists to upload their shit so it is readily available for people to make fun of.
I like to think of BBM Music as a deck of Magic Cards. You have 50 tracks to make it matter and you can replace 25 tracks a month to perfect your deck. The better your playlist, the more people who will want you as a BBM Music buddy. It’s like the modern day mix tape. This how you win chicks over when you’re in grade school! I believe the limit of BBM Music contacts is 500. So that’s potentially 25,000 songs. That’s more songs than most people have on their iPods.
If this catches on it could be the next big social networking fix. People will judge you by the music you have on your list. Popular people will stick with top 40 hits. The ‘better than you’ crowd will scramble to make sure their playlists is full of music you never heard of. The retards would have Coldplay. The usual segregation of crowds, as seen in your local high school.
Would I recommend BBM? Sure, while it’s free. For $4.99? It depends how much you use it and how much you depend on it. It can potentially be a great way to discover new music. For me though, I have my own ways of discovering new music. So RIM, you have 59 days left to convince me I need this as much as my backup mattress.
For those who want to share music with me on BBM Music, my PIN is 22A3623F. For those who don’t want to share music with me, my PIN is 22A3623F.