For the web
There's arguably more music on the web than on any music service, but playing it isn't as easy as pressing play on an iPod. MP3 blogs alone bring a wealth of fascinating stuff to hear. The thing is, pretty much nobody has 27 hours per day to read the web looking for tunes.
This is where exfm, which launched lots of new features on Wednesday, comes in. We liked it back when it was a Google Chrome browser extension and when it made the leap to the iPhone. Now, exfm is set to attract a whole new crowd with a revamped web app anyone can use; helpful new discovery features that don't rely on the user's knowledge of where music is; and by offering extensions for Safari and Firefox in addition to Chrome, which make it easier to play and bookmark music as you browse elsewhere.
Exfm indexes over 20 million songs across the web, according to its founder and CEO Dan Kantor, which is about what Apple's iTunes store has.
Now, exfm offers more ways to find those songs. You can visit the MP3 blog where the songs live using a supported browser, but that's just the beginning. The new website includes Search, Album of the Week, Genre, Trending, Monthly Mixtape, and Tastemakers sections, so you don't have to know about any MP3 blogs to find lots of great music. Crucially, you can Love tracks as you go -- because what's discovery without memory? Nothing, Lebowski.
Exfm also now imports your exfm-using friends from Facebook, Last.fm, or Twitter. If none of your friends use exfm, you can follow recommended users instead, to see what they Love.
"With the release of our next-generation platform, exfm is poised to capitalize on the explosion of free music on the web," said exfm founder and CEO Dan Kantor. "Ex.fm's new 'push play' experience combined with our browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari make exam the best way for fans to discover all the music the web has to offer."
The long and the short of it: Exfm is now ready for the average user, who doesn't even need to install an extension (which is actually really easy) to enjoy all sorts of excellent music on the web and iOS using this free service. In addition to the major changes described above, it added the following tweaks:
For the iPhone
When it comes to discovering music, the old "tell a friend" maneuver still works wonders -- even if it's what you do after a machine recommends a song to you. Exfm's new iPhone app leverages that tendency to the nth degree, for free. It also lets you listen to oodles of full tracks, make a note of the ones you like, or buy them from iTunes, among other things.
Exfm, which is also a Google Chrome browser extension, indexes the free MP3s you or others encounter on music blogs and other tastemaker sites, saving them to your online profiles. Basically, you can "note" songs found while browsing MP3 blogs and play them later on your iPhone or other iOS device -- as well as playing those songs noted by everyone you're following.
That's not all, by any stretch. Exfm the app can act as your default music player for listening to the tracks on your iPhone -- and unlike Apple's iPod app, it can scrobble those plays to Last.fm in real-time. (If you don't scrobble, trust us, this is a nice feature.)
You can share whatever you're listening to, whether it comes from your iPhone or exfm's music blog cloud, with friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr (that's three for the price of one, compared with iOS 5's imminent Twitter-only platform integration). In addition, songs display album art when you play them back, even if they came from some blog you've never heard of, shared by a friend you've never seen (or perhaps one you have).
Welcome to the social music revolution -- no credit card required. When you open the free app, you're presented with an activity feed that displays the exfm users that you follow, as well as a new Tastemakers feature that you won't find in the Chrome version. Because you can't search for music directly within the app, the Tastemakers feature offers a fantastic way to get started right away by pulling track suggestions that other users have "noted" -- even if you're not following anyone yet. Hitting the music note by these tracks to "note" them then adds these to your own catalog.
You won't be friendless and follower-less for long. The app gets social fast; I had my first follower within minutes of installing, and the overall design discourages wallflower-esque behavior.
We were already impressed with exfm Chrome browser extension, which can catalog all of the MP3s you come across in your browsing -- and continues to search for songs in the background on sites you've visited, to add them to your library. And again, you can listen to all of that stuff using the app.
All in all, the app combined with new social functions in both the app and the Chrome extension expand on exfm's already-awesome, and already free product. We like apps that aren't just services repackaged for the small screen; despite exfm's origin as a Chrome extension, this iPhone app takes advantage of the way people use smartphones differently than they use their desktops, and brings even more functionality when used in conjunction with the Chrome extension.
We appreciated seeing AirPlay included, and after failing to work the first try, it played these web-harvested songs like a charm over living room speakers (via Airport Express or Apple TV). Multitasking is also included, so you can go about your other business on your phone as you listen.
One more thing to "note," as it were: This app may not have much to offer listeners who tend to take their musical recommendations from more mainstream channels. Suggestions err towards niches. And as a social app, it emphasizes styles that typically rely on word-of-mouth coverage, including electronica, hardcore, and super-hip indie rock permutations, which crop up more than one tends to see elsewhere.
Whatever your inclination, the discovery options are probably wide enough to accommodate it. This is after all, a library built together by people who love music, sourced from great free content on the web. What's not to like?
For the web:
Exfm is a browser extension for Chrome that turns the entire web into your personal music library.
As you browse, exfm runs in the background indexing every MP3 file you come across, building a music library for you. Exfm will continue to check the sites you've visited, adding new music for you to listen to every day.
Exfm was founded in March, 2010 in New York City.
Exfm for iPhone allows you to discover the newest music shared by all your friends and tastemakers. You can share the music you are listening to with all your favorite social networks. You can even scrobble your music while playing.
For the iPhone, Android:
Exfm is the best way to discover the latest and greatest music on the web and from top Tastemakers. You can share music you are listening to via your favorite social networks. You can even live scrobble your music while it's playing.
"Music Discovery Platform exfm Goes Mobile With A Killer App For iOS" - Techcrunch
"Music Discovery App Merges Blog Content, iTunes & Favorites From Friends" - Mashable
"Hey look, Exfm is like Ping, but useful!" - GigaOm