With the free, US-only Myxer Social Radio (previewed here), you can see what your friends are listening to via Facebook and join them in a listening room to hear the same thing at the same time.
With Pandora sleeping on the potential to integrate tightly with Facebook in this way, Turntable.fm addressing hardcore music nerds, and Spotify/MOG/Rhapsody/Rdio focused on letting people play on-demand music, a gap exists in current listening options where Myxer hopes to fit right in by allowing Facebook users to jump off into real-time listening rooms together that adapt themselves automatically to the taste of those present.
With just that ability, the new Myxer Social Radio (for web and soon, iOS, the beta version of which we’ve tested, and Android) would be remarkably evolved offering for a company long known for selling dumbphone stuff like ringtones and wallpaper — but that’s not even all. The new Myxer streaming radio service, announced on Monday, includes another hugely-innovative feature: the ability of listeners to tag songs with short video clips of themselves talking about the song.
When other people hear that song, even on other stations, they have a chance of encountering your Song Story, and brands can also buy the chance to associate their own Song Stories with particular songs. This is important, even if you don’t like hearing advertising (who does?), because it means Myxer Social Radio is 100-percent free. You couldn’t even pay for it if you wanted to.
Frankly, we’re amazed no other company thought of doing something like these Song Stories already, because it’s such a great idea. The human element is often missing from the iPod+headphones experience of music. Myxer adds it back not only with real-time group listening rooms, but also with these Song Stories. Making one to share into the system is especially easy on a newer iPhone with a front-facing camera, but regardless of platform, you can shoot it live or upload a pre-shot video containing your story about that song or band.
We’ve tested the web and iOS versions, including creating rooms, joining other rooms, creating Song Stories and viewing Song Stories, but the iOS (and Android) apps are still in private alpha. Here’s how it works on the web (iOS screenshots below).
Creating a room is slightly tricky, in that you need to click the Create Room button, then enter each band one by one, selecting it in the dropdown menu as it appears:
Your friends see your room in the Facebook activity feed, it’s easy to miss that, so we recommend clicking the button to the lower left that lets you specifically share your room with friends:
Each room has its own activity feed, so you can scroll back sideways to see why a song skipped: if the room voted it down, or if the room creator decided to skip it. You also get a chat area, and the ability to see who is in the room, although no cute avatars are included:
One nitpick: This thing really needs a big “share this station with Facebook” button that goes to all of one’s friends in the main activity feed, instead of messaging just certain groups, or relying on the News Ticker (something we haven’t seen, because you can’t see your own musical activity). In addition, Myxer activity didn’t appear to be showing up in my Timeline or Music Tab, so I question whether activity is really being shared back to Facebook, other than manually.
However, you can always paste a link to your station into a Facebook update:
The Myxer catalog includes over 12 million songs, out of which it builds stations based on the artist(s) entered by the host using data from The Echo Nest (publisher of Evolver.fm). In addition, each room is shaped by the Facebook profiles of the people in the room, although the host is still in control, with the ability to skip any song. Everyone else can vote songs up or down — and if they really hate something, the song skips, even if the host likes the song, which is as it should be.
The next level of Facebook music sharing is here; and for now, Myxer has this space pretty much to itself, although Slacker tells is it is working on implementing a similar feature.
Here’s Myxer’s official intro video:
And here are a couple iOS screenshots (iOS and Android apps are coming “soon”):
You can try the web version at beta.myxer.fm.