Research in Motion has launched a new subscription-based music service called BBM Music. The good news is that at $5 per month it’s one of the cheapest music subscription services available for any mobile device, and there’s a strong social element that allows you to hear the songs your friends are listening to. The bad news is that if you don’t have many friends you can’t listen to much music.

Here’s how it works: You pay up your money and BBM Music gives you access to 50 songs that you can stream over the internet or cache on your device for offline playback. If you want to change songs, you can only change 25 per month. When you compare this to services such as Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG, or Rdio, which offer unlimited access to music it sounds like a ripoff.

But here’s the innovative feature: BBM Music is a social app. If your other BlackBerry Messenger contacts are using BBM Music you can access any of the 50 songs on their devices. This way you can discover new music and expand your library… by convincing your friends to pony up $5 per month too.

From RIM’s standpoint, BBM Music could be an excellent way to lock users into the BBM service. After all, if you have a few hundred friends and a few thousand songs, you may be a little less likely to replace your BlackBerry phone with an iPhone. From a user standpoint… yeah, I’d probably rather just use a non-social music app. But maybe that’s just me.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing.He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...