Trendy blog site edges into crowded field by using expert editors to share music, videos and other data

Blogging service Tumblr is offering a new music discovery service, but the site won't be configured as a radio station a la Pandora or a retail recommendation system like Amazon delivers. Instead, the core of the blogging company's strategy will be a select group of editors that will share music, video and pictures with the site's 95 million users.

Serving as the website's "music evangelist" is Nate Auerbach, a former tour manager/consultant for Nashville's Mur Productions who also handled marketing duties at Myspace.com and artist management and production firm the Collective before joining Tumblr last year.

Tumblr could have considerable power as a music discovery destination, with only YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, Vevo, Viacom, Twitter and Buzzmedia properties putting music content in front of more online viewers. Tumblr had 30 million U.S. unique visitors in January and grew 50% during the last 12 months, according to comScore.

The site's indie-leaning, stylish mix of rock and hip-hop puts Tumblr squarely in competition with Myspace, which officially relaunched in mid-January. The two companies have very different approaches: Tumblr is a collection of short blasts of media, while Myspace is more of a social-minded, on-demand music service. Since its acquisition by Specific Media in 2011, Myspace has been retooled as a music discovery destination, and notched 25.5 million U.S. unique visitors in January, losing 2 million since the previous month.

Tumblr's entry into music discovery takes place through a "tag" page or an "explore" page. A visitor can see music tags by typing "music" in the search field at the top right of Tumblr's home page, and the term will also be added to Tumblr.com/explore that lists various content tags ranging from fashion to basketball.

Like other categories on the explore page, the "music" designation will use tag editors to provide links to what it believes are the best songs, videos, artwork and photos on the overall site. Because the editors are also members of the Tumblr community, the recommended content comes from actual users rather than Tumblr executives or an impersonal logrhythm. As of Feb. 21 there were about 20 editors, including representatives of Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club; the blog Jungle Indie Rock; hip-hop journalist Andrew Nosnitsky; and indie band Ra Ra Riot. The page has been in beta for two months, and more editors are expected to be brought on soon.

Auerbach says tag editors are chosen because they have a significant following or have gained respect in their various fields. They provide musical diversity, and many are trusted Tumblr bloggers who have already built a loyal readership.

Another key aspect of Tumblr Music is a new blog at music.tumblr.com posting such music-related announcements as a flier to the company's March 15 party at South by Southwest. It's not a place for Tumblr to establish an editorial voice because it's leaving that kind of voice to its users, Auerbach says.

Both the music tag page and the Tumblr music blog will be available to mobile and non-Tumblr users as visible content. However, the only way to interact with the posts and get the full experience will be to log in as a Tumblr user.

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