Shuffler.fm — which launched during the summer of 2010 as a kind of “Pandora for music blogs — is out today with a new way to browse music and editorial: an official iPad app.
I don’t know about you all, but my Google Reader is jam-packed with music blogs. As I scroll through each day, I’m constantly seeing new songs that I want to check out — and constantly forgetting to check them out. Why? Well, it’s kind of a pain in the arse to click on a bunch of blogs in order to hear individual tracks. Shuffler.fm streamlines that experience greatly.
When Shuffler.fm first came out, it was basically a site that allowed you to choose a musical genre, click on a blog post featuring a song in that genre, and listen to that song while you read. When the song finished, you were then punted over to another post featuring another song in that same genre.
A year later, Shuffler.fm revamped its site, letting users listen to songs featured on a single blog as a kind of radio station as they surfed that blog, as well as browsing by genre. This was a feature that I, for one, wanted added to the service since the beginning, since it made the reading/listening experience more cohesive. It was also a natural addition, as Shuffler.fm had partnered with Spin magazine to make its website listenable in a similar fashion (Spin’s iPad app also lets users listen to the magazine’s playlist as they read).
The new iteration also let users check out popular songs and artists, search for music and news from their favorite artists (a great way to find playable tracks from acts that you’re into), and to save tracks to their own playlists, as well as subscribe to blogs.
The iPad app, however, is much more reminiscent of the first incarnation of Shuffler.fm than this summer’s update. Open up the free app and you’ll be presented with a series of squares featuring musical genres. Click on one (I chose Chillwave above) and you’ll see a ton of squares indicating different songs. Choose a song and you can read the blog post about that song while you listen. If you like the jam, you can share it via Facebook, Twitter, email or direct link, and read the original post. You can also “Favorite” it to add it to your own playlist. The playlist is pretty barebones, but is a good way to bookmark tunes you’re into.
You can skip any song you’re not feeling, but if you’re down to discover, you could conceivably just set up the app as a kind of editorially curated playlist. (The app also supports multitasking, so you can read a book on your Kindle while you listen.)
And that’s the point of the app: Music discovery. But not a kind of passive music discovery as dictated by an algorithm — a curated way to find new music that manages to integrate technology without negating editorial skill. The app serves to make it easier to digest the plethora of music blogs out there — to discover both music and curators.
Also, the experience of physically flipping through songs (instead of sitting hunched in front of a computer, clicking through blogs while dealing with your friend’s relationship problems over Gchat and trying to finish that email to your boss) is a nice change.
“[Shuffler.fm] was made for tablets and iPad,” says co-founder Tim Heineke. “We knew this from the beginning. We are just a bootstrapped start-up with a small team so it took longer. On the iPad it actually has less features — for now — but it’s a great lean-back, passive, music discovery app that tells you daily what to listen to and what is hot and relevant within a genre.”
Heineke says that the next version of the app will have more features — as the web version does — so we’ll just have to wait and see what future updates bring.
In the meantime, what do you think of Shuffler.fm as a music discovery tool?
By Brenna Ehrlich