When Shuffler.fm first launched in the summer of 2010, it was heralded as a kind of “Pandora for music blogs,” an assignation that might have to be retired now that the music discovery tool has joined Spotify’s app platform, allowing users to surf through music blogs and tunes within the framework of the rival music subscription service.
Shuffler.fm has had quite the evolution over the last few years. When it first launched, it functioned how one would expect a “Pandora for music blogs” to: Choose a genre, pick a blog post featuring a song in that genre, listen to the song/read the blog post, wait to be shunted to the next blog post/song in that genre.
Future iterations of the service added more functionality, including the ability to listen to blogs as radio stations (IE read all content while listening to all embedded songs), create playlists, subscribe to blogs and search for favorite bands. iOS apps soon rounded out the experience, allowing users to take Shuffler.fm mobile.
The Spotify version is both the beefed-up and stripped-down version of the preexisting Shuffler.fm experience. Beefed-up in that it provides users with even more music and control over how to experience those tunes. Stripped-down in that it features far less functionality than previous versions.
When you first fire up the app, you’ll be presented with a grid of recent blog posts/tunes. Click on “Change Genre” to choose what kind of content you’d rather engage with (Soul, Rock, Indie, etc) to narrow down the choices. Once you do so, you can click on a blog post/song to read up/listen to tunes. And when it comes to tunes, there’s a lot to play with. Even if the blog post is only referring to one song on an album, you’ll be able to listen to the whole disc if it’s available on Spotify (a functionality that was lacking in previous iterations of Shuffler.fm) as well as add tunes to your Spotify playlists for later listening. Situating the app within Spotify’s playground — with its millions of songs — makes the listening experience much richer by default.
However, the rest of the experience is a little lacking. For one thing, when you finish listening to a tune, you’re not shunted to the next post — you have to physically click out to read the next story. Also, it’s not possible — as it is in the online version — to listen to a blog-spun radio station. The app also lacks a search function and the ability to subscribe to certain blogs.
As it stands, the app is basically a list of blog posts featuring tunes, which isn’t the most interesting spin on the Shuffler.fm experience. In fact, there’s a hearty selection of music blog/label apps on Spotify that offer the same thing. Shuffler.fm’s MO has always been curation: Helping people find good music via the experts in a visually interesting, functional way. This new version lacks the tools that make that endeavor possible.
(Moreover — and this is likely a bug of some sort — blog posts are presented as fragments, and when you click to read more, you’re taken to Shuffler.fm’s site instead of to the blog in question. Big oversight.)
According to The Next Web, however, this is only the first version of the app. Tim Heineke, co-founder of Shuffler.fm, told the publication that “lots of new, better things [are] coming.” Hopefully those “new, better things” will include some of Shuffler.fm’s old, great things as well.
Image courtesy of Flickr, craigCloutier