It seems years ago that Last.fm first let people stream music for free or let you share it with your friends, but it was based primarily around listening to what you liked and giving you recommendations of new music. Fast forward a few years and there are two heavyweight music streaming apps wrestling for your attention, both claiming to introduce you to new music that your friends are enjoying. Spotify and mFlow, lets fight.
First off, Spotify. Having launched in an invite-only beta this time last year, Spotify has almost a year head start on mFlow. Revolving around the idea of having an entire library of music streaming to your computer from “the cloud”, Spotify is an ambitious project. While it was well received at launch, it’s only now beginning to add social music sharing features, revolving around some tight integration with Facebook. You can see all your Facebook friends who also have Spotify; letting you browse their playlists, send tracks directly to them, as well as post tracks direct to your Facebook wall. The other major new feature recently added is the ability to play tracks already on your hard drive from within Spotify, adding those tracks that you might have but Spotify doesn’t. Most importantly, you never really have to leave Spotify to listen to any music, whether you own it or not. There’s a quick video overview below.
Secondly, mFlow. Now we featured mFlow in Faux Vol 1.3, delving into it’s Twitter-meets-Spotify social capabilities, albeit capabilities that have become recently overshadowed by Spotify’s improvements. In a nutshell, mFlow lets you “flow” tracks to people that also have mFlow and are following you, similar to following someone on Twitter. It’s easiest to think of it as a music-only Twitter. Of course, you can also post mFlow “flows” to Twitter, and Facebook. The catch with mFlow is that you can’t actually stream full length tracks on demand, only tracks that people you follow have “flowed”. This stops it having the jukebox-in-the-sky feel of Spotify, keeping it more locked in. Also, while Spotify takes advantage of your already comprehensive social network established on Spotify to backup its social intentions, mFlow relies on having people sign up and find each other completely seperate of any other network they’ve already built up. Again, there’s a video overview below.
While they’ve both got their advantages, I think with its recent social aditions, Spotify looks to be kind of the social music streaming & sharing world. It’s single-handedly stolen mFlow’s thunder by negating most of it’s key advantages. While mFlow worked perfectly as the “social Spotify”, it’s now left struggling to find a reason to be relevant.