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Interview with BBM Music Senior Project Manager Nick Patsiopoulos

360x480_BBCM_Media_Player 360x480_BBCM_All_Songs_Who_Add_to_Playlist

I had the pleasure to talk to Nick Patsiopoulos, Senior Project Manager for BBM Music at RIM, yesterday about their latest announcement. This is a pretty big announcement for RIM with them entering the social space with a music app. According to Nick the BBM launch gave RIM the opportunity to take advantage of the huge BBM social network to build a BBM Music app with social built in from the ground up. There have been many attempts to make personal music social but there have been very few successes and Nick mentioned that most of them have been trying to bolt on social to a personal music service. BBM Music on the other hand is “Social front and center.” The cloud based BBM service starts off with social by you adding music and your whole music experience is based on your social graph. After the jump I dig deeper into RIM’s new BBM Music beta but let me know if I missed anything you want me to follow up with Nick on!

What exactly is BBM Music?

BBM Music is a cloud based social music platform with “Social front and center”. It differentiates itself by being built around social networking instead of having social networking bolted on. It creates a personal profile for users that becomes a “personal music profile on steroids” allowing you to select 50 songs that “define yourself and your history.”

How does BBM Music work?

Each BBM Music user can select up to 50 songs that they choose to represent themselves. These 50 songs become something you identify with and others can experience through you. Every month you can switch up to 25 of those songs which also extends those songs into your social graph. You can then look at your BBM contacts and listen to their full songs like it is yours. With BBM baked in you can chat right from the app and comment on your BBM friends profiles or song selections.

So how much does BBM Music cost?

New BBM Music users will get a one month free trial of the service after which they can enter in their payment information to extend it for $4.99 a month.

What if a BBM Music user does not pay the monthly subscription?

BBM Music users will still be able to use all the features of BBM Music without a subscription except for the ability to listen to songs. That means you can still select the 50 songs you recommend and view others recommend so you still have access to the whole social BBM Music scene including comments and chats. Your BBM social network will not get access to the 50 songs you select though.

Is BBM Music tied into your BlackBerry ID?


How about purchasing music that you listen to through BBM Music?

In countries where the Amazon MP3 store is available you will be able to purchase music you listen to in BBM Music if its available. In some locations it may link to the carriers music store.

What countries is BBM Music open to in the Beta? What about at full launch?

During the beta BBM Music is limited to the US, Canada, and the UK. It will be available later this year in Australia, Canada, Columbia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Will there be a desktop website/app counterpart?

BBM Music is a pure mobile experience. (I forgot to ask about the PlayBook)

How does the BBM Music songs get to your device?

The songs are played through a progressive download. At the same time as songs are playing it is caching the song to your local storage for listening later. You also have the ability to manually cache songs or profiles to your device for listening on the subway. (Sweet!) Songs are also automatically cached based on certain preferences.

What happens when everybody has BBM Music? Will you have every song available?

If you think of it this way “250 contacts with 50 songs each more or less means you have music to listen to for every hour of the day for a month.” (Math more or less works at 3-4 minutes a song) During the beta the BBM Music connections is limited to 140 BBM Music contacts until launch but it can scale past there.

What made you decide on the $4.99 price point? Are there advertisements?

There are definitely no advertisements. At $4.99/month it is roughly half of what other mobile music services charge.

What made RIM decide to create BBM Music now?

RIM has been making a strong push into social and with BBM 6 just launching this was a perfect opportunity. RIM saw the gap in what others were providing and plan to fill that gap.

How has the beta of BBM Music been going on campus at RIM headquarters?

BBM Music is one of the biggest if not the biggest internal betas ever done at RIM. Users have pride in their music selections and it has been truly viral. We have been constantly bombarded by users who want in on the beta.

What part of BBM Music has users coming back?

There is a constantly updating timeline of what is going on in BBM Music in your social graph. You get to see what your friends choose as songs and what they are listening too or commenting on. You also get a sense of pride by getting to see how many times the songs you selected were listened too.

Will BBM Music be launching in the Beta Zone or App World Test Center?

During the limited beta it will be in the Beta Zone. You will be able to invite friends to the app through the app itself but during the beta they will also have to download it through the Beta Zone. (Really hope they fix that ASAP)

Thanks Nick! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us with the BBM Music launch!

7 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I really wish you had asked why the 50 song limit.
    I am no music buff but even my music library >> 50 songs.

  2. interesting concept, will be interesting to see how it plays out, maybe extending the trial to three months will get more people on board since you really need all of your other contacts on board to take advantage of the service

  3. I’m not sure about one thing. Say some of my BBM contacts download this app and pick 50 song but don’t pay and I do, can I still listen to their song choices?

  4. Well done on the interview 🙂
    I think this could work well in the UK, with teenagers eager to share their musical taste with others.
    What they should have done is to let you choose 50 songs from your iTunes/Amazon catalog to share.
    Only people with lots of time in their hands will be willing to build 2 media collections.

  5. Thank you for posting this very informative interview.

    I have a couple of questions re downloads and data usage:

    50 songs = how much data approx? (Lotsa?)

    How is the data transmitted? If the songs are transmitted just as OTA data then that would be included in my data plan – however – if the songs are ‘streamed’ then that is WAP data and not part of my plan and immediately discounts me from using this service (I dare say I wouldn’t be alone in that arrangement).

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