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BBC launches Playlister

By | Published on Wednesday 9 October 2013

BBC Playlister

The BBC yesterday unveiled its Playlister platform, a new music service first mooted almost exactly a year ago. As expected, the new platform doesn’t compete with existing digital music services, but rather complements them, and indeed counts Spotify, Deezer and YouTube as partners at launch, with plans to hook up with other online music providers down the line.

Playlister will enable users to tag songs they first experience through BBC programmes, creating playlists which can then be exported into Spotify, Deezer or YouTube for future listening. Signed-up users will also be able to opt to receive music recommendations from DJs working for one of the Beeb’s many radio stations.

It’s a simple, and possibly obvious, service for the BBC to offer in principle, though one not without technological and political challenges. The former in a bid to make the service work across multiple delivery platforms (though just web and mobile browsers at launch, with the Beeb’s RadioPlayer app to be integrated in the short term future). The latter to assure the licence-fee funded BBC isn’t seen to be competing with commercial players in the digital music space, in the UK at least.

There had been talk of Playlister also making available recordings from the BBC’s vast archives, though that doesn’t seem to be part of the mix at the moment. Doing so would pose cost and more political challenges, even if said content was actually distributed via partners like Spotify and Deezer. Not least because labels would need to be cut in to the action (because although the BBC created the recordings, with signed artists they only did so with the labels’ permission, via a waver that wouldn’t allow for commercial exploitation).

And besides, the more simple playlist proposition is possibly more powerful, because at a time when the digital music sector, and especially the streaming services, are obsessed by developing the best ‘discovery’ tools, it possibly reaffirms that for mainstream consumers, one of the best music discovery channels remains radio. And with the Playlister service being available globally, it further promotes BBC radio beyond the UK.

Playlister was launched yesterday as newish BBC chief Tony Hall delivered his first big vision statement since taking over the top job at the Corporation. Other commitments in his speech included simplyfing the organisation’s corporate structure, a budget boost for arts coverage, a stepped up iPlayer and more global services.

On Playlister specifically, Hall told reporters: “BBC Playlister is a wonderful innovation from the BBC that has been designed purely with audience needs in mind. We have a proud musical heritage that dates back to the very beginning of the BBC’s history, and over the years we have found many new ways of bringing fantastic music to our viewers and listeners. Working with partners such as Spotify, YouTube and Deezer, we will once again transform our audiences’ relationship with music and the BBC”.

Meanwhile the service’s three launch partners also delivered some quotastic wordage, as follows…

Chris Maples, VP Of Europe for Spotify: “The BBC and Spotify share a passion for offering lovingly curated, great music to music fans, making Spotify a great partner for BBC Playlister. Through the BBC Playlister app on Spotify, you can be the first to hear and follow playlists from your favourite DJs, radio stations and TV programmes, and explore a world of hand-picked music content from across the BBC. From Zane Lowe’s Hottest Records Of 2013 to the tracks from ‘Later… With Jools Holland’, you can enjoy them first through the BBC Playlister app on Spotify”.

Ben McOwen Wilson, Director Of Content Partnerships for YouTube Europe: “The BBC is a hugely influential and powerful curator of music choice across generations and across genres. We’re delighted that through BBC Playlister, YouTube’s community of passionate music fans can access and share the music content they love from their favourite BBC shows by easily exporting playlists directly to YouTube”.

Axel Dauchez, CEO of Deezer: “We’re delighted to partner with the BBC at the launch of their new music product, BBC Playlister. At the click of a button, users will be able to export their favourite tracks from across the BBC to listen to in full and take them wherever they go with Deezer. Music fans in more than 180 countries already listen to and discover new music with Deezer – our editors are seeking out and recommending new music every day. Now people in many countries across the world can listen to the music they love on the BBC with Deezer”.