Swarm.fm Makes Spotify’s Facebook Integration Really Useful

Posted August 16

Our Unboxed/DUMBO Summer Friday event is tomorrow, you guys, and we’re on the edge of insanity over here with all the excitement. To get YOU equally as excited, we’ve enlisted Flavorpill’s Russ Marshalek, one half of our DJ duo Silent Drape Runners, to write about the recently released Spotify app, Swarm.fm: a previous O Music Awards nominee and participant in tomorrow’s event.

I’m a late-comer to Spotify. People have been telling me for some time about how it “makes the act of music sharing and discovery “social,” but given that I work in social media all day, I prefer to do my music discovery — to paraphrase Kanye West — in, “you know, real life.” That said, there’s nothing like needing to listen to The National and realizing all you have on your iPod is Nicki Minaj (shut up, it’s happened). Thusly, Spotify serves a need in my life.

However, in terms of musical discovery, I’m not sure what algorithm I tipped to make Spotify think that I really want to see the new Melissa Etherdige record recommended to me on my homescreen all day every day. This is nothing AGAINST Missy ‘Thridge, I definitely listened to her Breakdown record over and over again when my high school girlfriend and I broke up, but I’m no longer that person anymore, ya know?

Enter Swarm.fm: a little app for Spotify that makes music listening and discovery social in a way that actually matters. It allows you to tap into your friends’ musical tastes (you don’t have to connect to Facebook to do so, but the app works better that way), mine Facebook for relevant music recommendations based on your likes and listening history, stay abreast of new releases from your favorite bands and, thusly, listen to a constant stream of tunes that you will probably like. Prior to installing this thing, Spotify thought I really wanted to hear the Afrojack remix of “Bad.” Spotify, c’mon now, you and I both know the true King of Pop is and always has been Prince.

As soon as I installed Swarm.fm, I was given a brief tour of the service, which was necessary, because there’s a lot there. Open the sidebar to reveal a drill-down method of searching for tunes and mixes. Yes, there’s the standard artist search bar, but you can also surf around via genre tags, Facebook friends, release year and what you listened to recently. Choosing any one of these options allows you to drill down even more: 1). When you choose a band you like on Facebook, you can unearth albums, tracks, info, friend activity related to that artist, and similar acts, 2). Choose a genre to surf popular artists in that genre, trending bands in that genre or your favorites in rock, pop, etc, 3). Choose a friend to search through their artists, tracks, activity and tunes recently played, 4). Pick a year for releases you dig from that collection of months, emerging bands and popular releases. Drilling down by any of these factors will also create a kind of radio station of tunes, refined by your listening history on Spotify. And that’s just all the info you can find in the sidebar.

The homepage unearths friend activity (on all Facebook-connected music apps) and new releases from your favorite bands. For example, I instantly spotted what I consider to be a modern classic: Lil B’s ( a.k.a. The Based God) Rain in England. WHOA. WAIT. RAIN IN ENGLAND IS ON SPOTIFY? I HAD NO IDEA. I DON’T THINK IT WAS THE LAST TIME I CHECKED. These are the kinds of revelations awaiting one on Swarm.fm.

There’s also an activity stream featuring the tastes of your myriad Facebook friends — and the ability to turn off recommendations from friends with bad taste (sorry people I went to middle school who I am inexplicably friends with on Facebook) — a new releases page featuring popular bands and your personal favorites, and a personal page called “My Swarm” that surfaces all your favorite bands and tracks.

This app has gone through a genesis over the last year or so — it sprung from a Chrome plugin called +Music that let you play music in Facebook (before Spotify and the like integrated with the social network) and then morphed into Swarm.fm at a past music hack day. Now, the final, buffed-up version is finally here, with co-founder Peter Watts on hand to show it off at our DUMBO Summer Friday event tomorrow.

So, if you’re as blown away by this app as I am, come tell founder Peter Watts so at our show. In the meantime, go listen to Lil B’s Rain in England. Swarm.fm may not have recommended as such to you, personally, but I’m a DJ, so I know better.