Radio is dead, long live radio!
The BBC's Playlister service is now live in beta, proving to the naysayers that national radio and international streaming services can be bedmates. It lets you access tracks and lists of music that are being played on BBC Radio and export them to services like Spotify – completing the new-age music Circle of Life from first listen/recommendation to constant streaming and sharing.
Shazam was supposed to save us from disconnecting with great tunes we only hear once in passing but the Beeb is going one step further, cataloguing every piece of music played on every radio station and even rolling out Playlister to BBC TV shows.
The basic function is, funnily enough, a playlist. This is created within the Playlister page of the BBC desktop or mobile website – you just need to sign in with a BBC account and tick that you're over 16 to get going. Then you can browse recently played or popular tracks on BBC Radio stations in the Discover tab, hover over for a 30 second preview or click the Playlister logo to add to your list. There's just one master list – annoyingly, with some missing artwork – but you can delete as you go along.
Now, as of today that's all you can do to find music via the Playlister site. By November, though, the BBC promises it'll add the Playlister button to the iPlayer Radio app too. Plus Presenter Playlists are incoming so you can let Jo Wiley, Trevor Nelson or Annie Mac do all the hard work for you. Interest piqued by the mention of TV? The BBC will be rolling out its TV Playlister catalogue soon enough, too – everything from what the contestants on The Voice are warbling to the music playing in the Queen Vic.
Spotify, YouTube and Deezer
Everyone loves a perfectly crafted playlist – but the BBC isn't suggesting you spitshine yours, mummify and worship it for centuries to come. Instead, the idea is for you to export it – to Spotify, YouTube or Deezer – so you can actually listen again. Have a go now, it works perfectly.
But there are a few early hiccups and limits – due to technical problems you can't export to Spotify from the Playlister site in a mobile browser yet, though desktop is fine and Deezer and YouTube don't seem to have had the same issues.
There are also limits to the number of tracks that can be exported in one go. For Spotify, it's your most recent 85 tracks; for YouTube it's around 200 – but there's a handy notification. And right now, you can only delete one track at a time but we're told block deleting is on its way too.
Plus, of course, since many of the DJs' life work is about discovering new music, their chosen tunes may not appear in your streaming service's library of tracks. Again, a notification pops up with how many tracks it offers – we'd guess YouTube will have the most available but the two streaming services offer better quality and – if you pay – no ads.
We'd hope that the likes of Spotify will begin using curators like BBC Radio DJs to source new artists and get them onto the streaming service. But in our first day of using Playlister, we haven't been too disappointed with the number of tracks we can get hold of.
If you're a desktop Spotify user, head straight to App Finder and download the free BBC Playlister app which complements the service offered on the BBC's own site. This way you bypass signing into the BBC, exporting to Spotify and can just get straight into the playlists of individual radio shows. In fact, it's an easier way to try out Playlister – on the BBC site you can't even filter by station yet but within Spotify you can click straight on your presenter's mug to Follow them.
Music from Match of the Day 2 and documentaries like Nile Rodgers: The Hitmaker (from BBC Four) is already live too and it's a taster of things to come.
If you want to listen to a lot of bleeding edge, hipster music that you don't think will be on Spotify, sign up at bbc.co.uk so you can try out BBC Playlister with Deezer and YouTube too. If even those services can't conjure up the discs Lauren Laverne is spinning this week, you might need to venture into a damp basement record store. Good luck to you.