The Big Blipper

The inexhaustible Sam Bennett introduced me to Blip.fm while I was at Ludorum, and it has been my Internet radio of choice ever since. It’s so easy to get started, and in a minute, you’re either listening to songs you know and love, or songs you’ve never heard before. Either option can be rewarding, especially when it’s instantaneous and effortless.

With Blip, you can spin tunes just to please yourself, or you can style yourself as a digital DJ for all the other listeners logged in at that moment. All songs you “blip” get posted on a scrolling, ever-updating list on the home page. Listeners are either logged into this page (and thus listening to a diverse array of tunes from ABBA to Zappa) or into a page that aggregates the playlists just of your own favorite DJs.

Be your own personal Wolfman Jack.

(Where does all this music come from? Here’s the only answer I can muster: Somewhere out there on The Internets, people have uploaded tons of music onto tons of empty servers. Who are these people? Where are these servers? I cannot say. But because it seems exclusively a volunteer effort, the catalog of blippable tunes is quite incomplete in places, redundant in others, and occasionally creatively spelled.)

Here’s how to get blipping in 15 seconds flat:

1. Sign up in a jiffy. Make up a name, enter an e-mail. I know, I hate registering for things, particularly giving out my e-mail. But you have a back-up address for spammy registrations like this don’t you? There you go.

The only hard part: An awesome DJ name

2. Answer a few questions about your musical tastes. You’ll be instantly matched to other DJs who have similar (or similar-ish) preferences.

3A. Camp out on the “Public” page and listen to what every other blipper is currently throwing out there. (The results will be fun, if jarringly mismatched.) OR…

3B. Camp out on your “Home” page which features just the blips from your list of “Favorite” DJs. (It’s just a simple click to add and subtract DJs from this cohort.) OR…

3C. Become a full-blown DJ. Blip your own personal playlist by searching for artists or titles.

Did the girl know it was true? Did she???

You can even try searching for concepts. Experiment with say, moon or June and goggle at the blunderbuss of options firing back at you. When you’ve made your selection and want to blip it, you can include a little chitchat — just like a drivetime DJ! You get a Twitter-sized field to type a message, about enough to convey a little snark or sentimentality. You can also reblip tunes you hear from other DJs, or direct your messages at your listeners — just like a Casey Kasem Long Distance Dedication!

This one's going out to Tina in Sheboygan with love from Chi-town Shane.

With Blip, I’ve been introduced to many new wide, green pastures of music I never would have stumbled into otherwise. Lots of DJs hail from other countries (a strong Brazilian contingent, it seems, or maybe that’s just the bias of the algorithm that made my Favorites list) but wherever they’re from, they’re all plugged into their local music scene. How else would I have heard Minnesota indie band Best Friends Forever, a joyfully unpolished trio of quirky rockers? They’re my Fun Find of the moment.

If you tune in to Blip, add Woohoodrew to your Favorite DJs, and I promise to send out an LDD in your honor. Until then, keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

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