While techie hipsters (techsters?) complain that Turntable.fm is so over, most people and even music fans only recently began to grasp the concept of downloading MP3s from the internet and transferring them to a portable MP3 player, in the grand scheme of things. When you obsess about technology all day, it can be easy to forget how advanced the concept of listening to the same music with friends or strangers in other locations is — unless you remember (or still experience) FM radio.
We kid — real-time group listening apps go way beyond FM radio in part by by allowing the listeners to pick what plays, and letting them text-chat to each other as they listen.
Myxer, long known for its sales of ringtones, wallpaper, and other relics of the pre-smartphone era, impressed us with its plan to evolve into a smartphone-friendly app company on the strength of its group-listening app, Myxer Social Radio. In the early days, during our testing, we barely noticed anyone else using it. However, Myxer founder Myk Willis told Evolver.fm in a meeting in Manhattan last night that Myxer will see its millionth install this week, which is nothing to sneeze at.
“I don’t think anyone has really cracked the mainstream code at this point,” said Willis about the real-time group listening phenomenon, which allows people to gather in rooms online to hear the same music and talk about it, sort of like the way we do in real life. “We saw the ‘high-profile’ Turntable.fm launch, but that’s really only high profile if you’re in the space — it really didn’t have a lot that connected with a mainstream audience.”
According to him, Myxer’s long (in internet time) run as a purveyor of mainstream digital goods like those wallpapers and ringtones will serve it well, as the company attempts to build on that success and become a smartphone app company.
“Myxer has a seven year operating history, so we have a long view of the whole thing,” said Willis, “and we have a very mainstream audience with out existing site, so we’ve been trying to build something that takes advantage of the fact that we know people want to interact with entertainment together in real time — but something that’s also natural and makes sense for a mainstream audience. We’re still working on it to, on dialing the right knobs so you get that mix of simplicity, which is key, because the mainstream just wants to press play, for the most part — but you want to mix that simplicity with that kind of rich overtone that comes from real-time interaction.”
As part of his strategy to bring the group-listening trend we spotted last May to the mainstream, Willis plans to embrace Facebook much more closely than Myxer did originally.
“In the coming weeks, you’ll see all of the song-level play information synched back to Facebook, whereas before we were doing it at a very coarse level,” he said. “We weren’t sure whether a mainstream audience would want to have all of that noise coming into their Facebook profile from it, so we went slowly into that. But as far as listening hours and active users, those numbers are all trending up.”
Indeed, as we observed last week, as much as people bristle at the notion of every dumb article they read showing up on Facebook, the same does not appear to hold true for music.