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Announcing FUZZ: Calling All Blippers in the US to Test New Product

Jeff here from Blip.fm.  As some of you may remember, we started our music efforts with an artist marketing product called Fuzz Artists back in 2006.  Despite our efforts, it never really went anywhere and we were lucky when our engineers came up with an idea for a “Twitter-like” product for music.  As you know, this eventually became Blip.fm and we made the painful decision to shut down our first product when Blip started to take off.  With your help, Blip.fm grew and things were going great… at least for a little while.

Things took a downward turn when we encountered some “content challenges.”  We lacked the resources to close content deals, and the decent content sources we had all dried up. In order to stay in existence, we changed many aspects of the service (needless to say, for the worse).  We lost some of our favorite Blip DJs, users were extremely upset, and the community forever changed. To be honest, it totally sucked.  My staff shrank to just me, my co-founder and part-time engineering help.  We kept Blip going on a shoestring by running it out of my basement.

While it was yet another difficult time for us, we regrouped, put together a new team, and started thinking about a new product.  In the meantime to my surprise, many Blipppers stuck with us and continue to do so today.  You know who you are and, on a personal level, I can’t thank you enough.  I would’ve called it quits a long time ago, if it weren’t for your support.

The elephant in the room is the question many of you want answered: what is going to happen to Blip.fm?  The honest answer is I don’t know for sure.  For many reasons, some personal and business, I want and will try to keep Blip going as long as possible, and to fix things when they break.  I hope that I’ll be able to do more than that some day, but the reality of limited resources means that day may not come for a long time, or at all.

That brings me to the new FUZZ.  Think ‘People-Powered Radio’.  While it’s not Blip.fm – nothing could replace it – we have built some of what we think are the best aspects of Blip into an internet radio service.  Most importantly, we continue to believe that the most compelling recommendation is when it comes from REAL PEOPLE and that thinking forms the core of FUZZ.

Since most of you have strong opinions about music, we think you would be perfect to help us test, provide feedback, and build stations as early adopters.  If you are interested, sign up at http://fuzz.com/register to be next in line for new batches of invites.  Over the next few weeks, we will open it up to more and more Blippers.  For a temporary period of time, we will reserve your Blip user names so make sure you use (and check) the email address tied to your Blip.fm account.

One major downer is that, for now at least, FUZZ will be available only in the United States due to licensing restrictions.  To all the international blippers out there, we understand the anger and disappointment this will cause.  As we move forward, we will look for the opportunity and resources to add other countries to FUZZ’s reach.  This is a bummer for our international users, and for us U.S. blippers who have benefited from all of their efforts. For more about this topic and internet radio regulations, you might want to check out http://www.broadcastlawblog.com/articles/internet-radio/

FUZZ is in a private beta stage and still figuring things out so we appreciate your patience and feedback. You’ll be helping us to make a better online music experience. Sign up for an invite, and stay tuned!

Hope to see you on FUZZ.com soon!

@Jeff

Welcome Blip.fm Ambassadors

Blip.fm has grown a lot since we launched in 2008, and one of the challenges of having a small team and many loyal users is how to stay responsive to your questions and support issues. As part of improving our outreach, we are introducing a role called the “Blip.fm Ambassador”. We’ve asked two active early adopters (from among many!) to help us keep the information flowing. We have an idea of what the role will be, but it will certainly evolve over time. Blip.fm Ambassadors are NOT technical support, but they do know how to do pretty much everything on the site. Think of them more as community managers.

So who are the new Blip.fm Ambassadors? We’ve asked @briangreene and @evablue to be our first. They’ve been active users from the beginning and we think they know Blip.fm pretty well to be able to help out. Remember, it’s a voluntary position and they’re not 24/7 support, but we’re confident that we’re covering quite a few time zones for open communications.

@briangreene, joined in August 2008, is a radio g33k from Dublin, Ireland. He loves all things music and social radio. Brian blogs at http://posterous.briangreene.com
[blip.fm / twitter / facebook]

@evablue, joined in September 2008, is a concert photographer, music listening junkie with g33k tendencies based out of Montreal, Canada. Check out her site at http://www.evablue.net
[blip.fm / twitter / facebook / flickr]

Specifically for Blip.fm issues, or if you are interested in participating in the Blip.fm Ambassador program, you should contact @briangreene or @evablue via Blip.fm.

Our thanks to @briangreene or @evablue for their willingness to help the whole Blip.fm community!

@Jeff
Founder and CEO, Blip.fm

Blip.fm is a Twiistup Showoff

Blip.fm was selected as the final Twiistup Showoff to present at the Twiistup Conference next week in Los Angeles. Earlier today, Twiistup congratulated us and tweeted that Blip.fm “absolutely blew up Twitter.”  We also heard that we drove so much traffic to the event page that we temporarily took down the server.

We think it’s really important to give props to the people that made it happen for us: YOU. There were thousands of votes from the Blip.fm community, you guys seriously rocked this contest. Brian, Ian, Yan, and I can’t thank you enough for your support in voting for us and getting your networks to participate.  We would like to especially recognize @briangreene, @evablue, and @daretoeatapeach.  These guys are a few of our most dedicated blippers and were especially thoughtful and active in helping us promote this event.

We said we would give 100 credits to five of the blippers who supported us by voting on Twitter, selected at random, from the thousands of tweets generated during the contest. Here are the lucky duckies:

@dojodub
@Simchabe
@mrsblythe
@cynti
@PsychoSid

So what’s going on at the Twiistup Conference?

Blip.fm will be presenting next week on Thursday, July 30, 2009 at the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles.  You can get tickets here.  It’s going to be a great event connecting people from technology, media, and entertainment.  Here’s a bit more from the Twiistup site:

“Our events features an eclectic stage agenda representing leading innovators and 10 startups chosen to ‘showoff’ their products & services to influential bloggers, fellow tech-heads, investors, the media and those interested in learning about what’s hot in tech.

Unlike traditional conferences, Twiistup mixes it up with tunes, video, beverages, swag and the unexpected.”

The address is:

Universal Hilton
555 Universal Hollywood Drive
Universal City, CA, USA

We’ll be wearing our Blip.fm swag so please say hello if you see us.

Thanks again,

Jeff, Brian, Ian, and Yan

Navigating the Storm

In the past few weeks we’ve had to make a few difficult decisions that will change the way some things work on Blip.fm.  For the majority of you the changes will be for the better, for others they might be less than ideal for the time being. But everyone can be sure that we are doing everything in our power to make Blip.fm the best place to be a DJ and discover music through real people.

The challenges involved in running a start-up in the music space are immense.  To be honest it’s completely nuts, but we are trying to navigate our way through the perfect storm: a struggling music industry, a global economic meltdown, and a fundamental shift in the way people relate to one another and share their appreciation for music.  There is still much to accomplish behind the scenes in order to provide the best possible site for the folks that we care about most: YOU. We are committed to that process and bust our tails every day in order to bring you a game-changing product.

Many of you have been asking why we have had to make some of these changes.  I’ll be direct with you: I can’t tell you - at least not right now.  But, as you can imagine, we are working closely with the parties involved to address their needs while staying true to our initial product objectives.  There are a lot of smart people and groups involved in sorting out a whole boatload of issues regarding an industry in transition: software developers, lawyers, artists, people from the labels and aggregators, ad agencies, merch, ticketing, live event production, management and publishing companies to name a few.  We are working with all of them to create innovation and bring you the best experience possible.

So, here’s what will be changed: Going forward our music will be primarily sourced from the good folks at imeem while we engage with other sources to enhance our content.  Many of you will notice already that there is significantly more music available and that songs are more reliable than before.  Unfortunately, others may notice limitations on what can be streamed. We are looking at ways to improve the experience for everyone, but it’s a slow and piecemeal process.  Beyond that, there will be some other significant changes:

  • Adding urls to public mp3s will be limited to legitimate bands and labels approved in our systems (you can sign up here: http://blip.fm/settings/music).
  • The embeddable widget will still show blip messages, but won’t play the music in most cases.
  • Where applicable, old blips will be replaced with content from the imeem catalog, but anything that doesn’t match will temporarily cease to function. We plan to add tools to allow you to correct any false matches and find replacements for unavailable tracks.
  • We plan to add a preference to skip 30 second clips.
  • Additional media content will be available as it is sourced via new partnerships.

Brian, fuzzygroove, Yan, and I cannot thank you enough for all your feedback and support.  We appreciate your comments (we personally read every one of your emails).  And yes, we know that we have made some mistakes along the way, but we couldn’t be happier knowing that we’ve built something that millions of people find useful and enjoyable;  not bad for 4 guys in a basement. But the real props go out to you, the DJs, and to your blips.  Blip.fm would be nothing without all of you and we know it.

We hope that you will continue to use our service while we work things out.  We’ve got more features coming and will continually strive to improve Blip.fm.  Stay tuned.

Jeff Yasuda
CEO