BlackBerry Music Service Becomes Official

By Antony Bruno, Denver

Research in Motion unveiled its BBM Music service on Thursday. The new service is very much in line with the details that were leaked last week.

Billed as a "social music sharing and discovery service," the music service is built on the back of the BlackBerry Messaging service, which has 45 million users worldwide. As noted in the early leaks, this is not a typical streaming or music download service.

Instead, those who download the app will be able to select 50 songs that represent their "music profile." They can then stream those 50 songs as many times as they like, and also connect with other users to view and stream their 50 songs, and so on. There's no limit to the number of friends users can have, or the number of streams that can be made between them.

The 50 songs are not set in stone, either. Users can swap out up to 25 songs per month, and the service will have regular recommendations based on featured artists, staff picks, and so on.

"It recreates the experience of making mixtapes for friends," says Nick Patsiopoulos, a product manager on the service. "It evolves the mixtape. It makes it easier and faster."

It's certainly a unique take on a digital and mobile music. Users can share playlists, or create a giant playlist from all the tracks hosted by every friend on the BlackBerry Messenger network. And there's a built-in viral element to it as a result, since the more friends you have using the service, the more music you can access.

Limiting users to 50 songs -- with this mixtape angle -- is not a horrible tactic. The question mark is the price. At $5 a month, it's not exactly a wallet-buster. But getting people to pay for music at any price point has been a challenge for years. And those who are paying for subscription music services may be difficult to convince to pay again here as well.

Additionally, RIM is in big trouble, losing market share to Apple and Android devices that are developing their own messaging services that are threatening the BlackBerry Messenger network.



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