I’ve been playing with the BBM Music Beta Program for a few days now and I thought I’d share some of my first impressions of the app. I will also go over it’s features, explain how to use it and hopefully put to rest some of the common misconceptions about the service.
- Build a personal music profile with 50 of your favorite songs. You can refresh your profile by swapping out up to 25 songs each month.
- Invite your BBM friends to subscribe to BBM Music and to join your BBM Music Community.
- With each friend that is added to BBM Music, you grow your music collection since the songs from the profile of each BBM Music friend are available to you at any time.
- Up to 50 tracks from your personal profile are shared with your BBM Music Community, and each member of your community shares up to 50 songs from their profile with you.
- Enjoy a truly social community-based music experience – the more friends who join your community, the more songs you can listen to.
- Easily discover music that your BBM Music friends are listening to, and comment on your friends‟ songs and playlists.
- You can create multiple playlists from music in your profile as well as all of your friends‟ profiles, and with one click you can shuffle the entire collection of music from your BBM Music Community. You can even see which friend contributed each song while it plays.
- Within your BBM Music app, you also see a visual timeline that shows the recent updates of all users within your community. It gives you a chronological view of community updates, including who added new friends, which songs were added or removed, which playlists were created and what comments were made by your BBM Music friends.
- Listen to Full Tracks – BBM Music subscribers can listen to full tracks from their friends‟ profiles – not just previews.
- Offline Listening – Music can be saved to smartphones for offline listening, allowing users to access songs even when they don‟t have wireless coverage.
- Topping the Charts – Keep track of how many friends are listening to your tracks.
The app has a very effective and simple interface, a small banner at the very top displays information about the song that is currently playing and if clicked it will bring you to the music player. Just below it is four tabs that along with the now playing banner are always present. These tabs allow you to go home, your profile, your contacts or the music catalog.
The home view shows you updates from your BBM Music contacts. These updates include who they are sharing with and songs that the contact has added to or removed from their song list. From these updates you can invite the users that your contacts are sharing with by clicking on their display picture. And since any song your contacts adds to their list is also added to your list, you can click on songs in this view and listen to them immediately. The home view also has a shuffle all button, Clicking this will shuffle your songs, add them to your BBM Music player and begin playing them.
From your profile you can change your display pic, status and view any comments you have received. This is also where the songs you have picked out and the playlists you have created are kept. The song list allows you to share a song via BBM, BBM Groups, Email or PIN messages. You can also ignore or delete songs. The playlists section of this tab is also pretty self explanatory. Creating a new playlist is very easy, the app allows you to add songs individually or by bulk adding them based on album, artist, contact, genre, song popularity or just random songs. Songs that go into your playlists can be either songs you have picked or songs that one of your contacts have picked. It’s a really helpful feature for those times when your in the mode for a more specific selection of songs, but I typically just use the Shuffle All button.
The contacts tab shows all of the people you are currently sharing with and a total list of the songs you have access to. From here you can also invite a new contact to try out BBM Music and accept any new sharing requests you might have received. If you click onto a contact it brings up a list of all of their songs and the playlists that they have created and are sharing. And just like with your personal song list you can ignore songs your contact has picked so you don’t have to listen to them if you don’t want too.
The last tab is for the music catalog. Here you can search through a selection of nearly 10 million songs for new songs to add to your personal song list. You can search by artist, song and album name, or by genre. Also there are lists of songs grouped into categories which include, featured, staff picks, new, genres, top and recommended. After you have searched for a song or entered a category you are presented with a list of songs. Highlighting one of them will give you the option to listen to a 30 second long preview of it or you can go ahead and add it to your personal song list. You are notified if one of your contacts already has a song in their collection, this keeps you from wasting one of your 50 song picks.
This is the part where I will attempt to clear up some of the misconceptions a little. When I first heard about BBM Music I was very excited to get the opportunity to test it, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the concept. To be honest I didn’t understand why people would spend $5 a month just to share a maximum of 50 songs with their BBM friends when other services offered so many more songs for the same or less money. I’m noticing that a lot of people who are not participating in the Beta Program have the same concerns I originally had. Now that I have been using the service I realize that my concerns weren’t justified.
First of all reaching the actual 50 song limit is proving to be kind of difficult. I have used 21 of my 50 songs picks, of those 21 only 8 of those songs have not been picked by another one of my contacts. Nearly every song I can think of that I would like to add to my list is already there because one of my contacts had already picked it before I even thought to add it myself. Of course this will come down to how the individual uses the service and who his contacts are, but for me the 50 song limit is a non issue.
Another common misconception is that you are sharing songs with your BBM friends only, that simply isn’t the case. You do share with the friends you currently have on BBM. But the bulk of your BBM music contact list will be made up of random BBM Music users. Adding someone to your BBM Music is nothing like adding them to your BBM. You can add users and then post comments to their profile if you choose, or you can even invite them to your actual BBM friend list. On the other hand if you want you can just add people for no other reason but to get access to their songs. It’s as social as you decide to make it. Also everyone there is always willing to add you, because the more contacts you have the more songs you can access. Think of it as adding someone to your Twitter except with BBM Music you get to listen to their favorite songs after you have added them. It’s this collecting of songs that makes the service unique and pretty addicting. In fact Jake and myself are currently in a friendly competition to see who can amass the largest song collection after the first week.
In closing, I’m very impressed with BBM Music so far. The streaming works as good as any music app I’ve ever used. I very rarely need to skip songs, but when I do it is fast and painless and I can skip as many as I choose at any time and there are no adds. Basically it’s pretty much like any other paid music service out there, but with a nice social aspect added to it.
For more information about BBM Music, and to sign up to be notified of its availability in your country, please visit www.blackberry.com/bbmmusic.