BBC Playlister Beta

Wednesday 9 October 2013, 11:48

Chris Kimber Chris Kimber Executive Product Manager

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Today, as Tony Hall announced yesterday, we release an early Beta version of a new online music product called BBC Playlister.

The vision for BBC Playlister is to start to transform music on BBC online, by connecting the music you hear on the BBC with your online music life, helping you to discover more music you love from the millions of tracks that are now so easily available.

PlaylisterDiscoverHover.jpg BBC Playlister Homepage

BBC Playlister will do this by offering three main features.

Firstly, BBC Playlister aims to solve the problem of hearing music on the radio or on TV and not knowing what it is, and how to remember it for later. From today, whenever we play music on our national music radio stations and some TV programmes, you will be able to simply “Add” that piece of music to your own personal playlist with one click. And then you can retrieve your playlist from anywhere, at home or at work, using your BBC iD to share this information across desktop, tablet and mobile.

Secondly, great music recommendations. The problem many users face today is not getting access to music, but discovering the right kind of music that suits their taste. BBC Playlister aims to translate our expert musical guidance from on-air, to online. See Ben Chapman’s blog post for more on this. Being able to see what our presenters are personally recommending and following them for regular updates is coming in a future product release (see a taster video below), so today we have a simple offer focussing on recently played music and on popular tracks.

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Lastly, the ability to actually listen to the music you have “saved” or been recommended. The BBC doesn’t own the rights to allow you to listen in full to commercial music on-demand, so we are initially partnering with three of the biggest players in the digital music space: Spotify, Deezer and You Tube. With Spotify we are also releasing a branded Playlister space which houses not just your exported tracks, but also editorially curated playlists from our radio and TV stations. This means you will be able to remember music you’ve heard on the BBC by adding it to a playlist, then “export” or send that information to one of our partners so you can listen in full to the music there.

There has been lots of background work necessary to deliver Playlister. We’ve had to rebuild our entire music backend and content management system that delivers much of the underlying data that drives Playlister; we’ve had to create new unique identifiers for individual tracks to allow us to offer aggregations such as “Popular” and to share track resources such as images and short sound clips. We’ve also had to improve the technical architecture of our music metadata ingest systems so that recently played tracks are quickly available for users to add to BBC Playlister.

Playlister is labelled a “Trial Beta” for now whilst we gather feedback from users, ensure the technology is robust and resilient enough, and we complete the initial feature set including recommendations from our on-air presenters. Later this year we expect to remove the Beta label, which is also when we’ll integrate Playlister functionality into our BBC iPlayer Radio mobile apps.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts once you have used the service, so either leave a comment below or email us direct at or tweet us @bbcplaylister.

Chris Kimber is Executive Product Manager in BBC Future Media for Radio & Music   

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    Comment number 1.

    Some questions:

    As a trial, I've added a track to my BBC Playlist. How is it possible to to listen to a short snippet of it (as has been announced elsewhere)?

    If exporting the Playlist to Youtube, do I have to be signed in to Youtube with my Youtube id for this exporting to happen, or will BBC Playlister create a new account under my BBC iD? (The latter might seem to be the case, but the stated "BBC Playlister will manage your YouTube account to create a playlist..." isn't exactly clear.)

    If I am accessing Youtube without being signed in to BBC, is my BBC Playlist accessible on Youtube?

    On a privacy aspect, in the context of the FAQ's "The BBC will keep your information secure and not share with anyone else", if playing a track from my Playlist on Youtube, will Youtube (i.e. Google) know what my BBC iD is?


  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The content mangement system - if this is what is used for the current online programme playlists - doesn't seem that useful for classical music. It keeps mixing up classical composers with rock and pop stars, so might we find we've saved 'Please Release Me' rather than the Evening Prayer from Hänsel und Gretel?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.


    Answers to some of your questions:

    -short audio snippets of tracks are available for most (not all) tracks when you roll your mouse (or tap on touchscreen devices) over the track image, both in the Discover section and in "Your Playlist"

    -You Tube export, yes you have to be signed in to google to do this. No, we don't create a new google account under your BBC iD. Yes, your BBC Playlist on You Tube will be accessible to you even if you are not signed in to the BBC

    More information in our FAQ section:

    @french frank
    The classical music metadata published on should be correct so whatever you see displayed in programme playlists will be what gets saved to your list if you add from there, but we are seeing some examples where our partner services can't always match the music you have saved to your list. We are working to improve that situation, so examples of that happening should reduce over time

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    Comment number 4.

    Thanks for describing Playlister so succinctly. You mention Flash being a pre-req but I've just tried out the process of saving some tracks to Playlister on an iPad, without Flash, and all worked including the sample playback. What am I likely to miss without Flash?
    Further, I'd really like to see this integrated to regional stations websites. For me, it's the more eclectic music that gets played on those late night, mid-week, music programmes that I need help to recall & use as a base to discover more (eg Radio Ulster Late Show, Mo-Thu). Will these programs be integrated during the ongoing beta developments?

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