mflow, which is currently still in beta, aims to be a revolutionary way of finding new music based on recommendations from people you follow. Imagine a Twitter, a Last fm and an iTunes all mashed up and you get an idea of what mflow is about, but with a difference. Every time you buy a track based on someone else’s recommendation you get credit in your account!
So how does it work? Firstly you have to download their app and be based in the UK at the moment, record companies are incredibly territorial geographically and I guess mflow’s music agreements are with the UK record industry (NB: Im running this on an Intel MAC in OS X 10.6.2. and have found no real bugs yet. A version for PPC Macs is coming soon) After installation you are asked for a user name/password. The app opens to a home page (see screenshot below)
On the Home Page you have lists for the most downloaded, most flowed for tracks and albums as well as new releases. There is also a people on mflow column with Top Recommenders and New people. You can listen to any artist you search for and any of the Home page recommends but they are only 30 sec previews, a shame I think. Yes you can skip through it and listen to upto 30 sec chunks but this is time consuming. This probably wont be anything to do with mflow I bet but with mflow’s agreements with the record companies who of course are mainly stuck in the ice age.
In your inbox (see screenshot below) you get recommendations from the people you are following – mflow call this flow(ing). When you get a track in your inbox you get to listen to a full length preview the first time you listen to it. Afterwards you can listen to it again but only in 30 sec snippets, which seems fair to me.
For a user to share a recommendation you click on flow and all your followers receive this in their inbox. You can also “reflow” a recommendation that someone you follow has flowed to you. As I mentioned at the top of this article, you can earn credit to spend on tracks as well. If someone buys a track you recommended to them you get 20% of the price they paid. Single tracks seem to be either £0.79p or £0.99p so upto 19.8 pence credit for you to spend on music..sweet! A lot of music lovers I think would be happy without the kick back but it does motivate a call to action.
So initial thoughts? Well I have to say even though I was sceptical at first I like mflow. The problem with all these kind of things though is they are time consuming, I already have a bunch of tracks I haven’t listened too in my inbox and I would still rather have iTunes on in the background serving me music. It would be nice if I could flow my tracks in iTunes right into mflow. They are adding new music as quick as their legal dept can get record companies to sign on the dotted line, and as fast as they can import the tracks into their server. BTW the tracks are encoded as Mp3’s with LAME 3.98 and VBR which gave tracks around a 260 kbps bit rate. Of course if your an audiophile then you may prefer to have the CD and import them yourself but mflow is inline with the quality other online music services provide. Mp3 isn’t the best format for high quality music playback but thats another argument! All I can say is I have found some really good new music though mflow like The Errors and the excellent Lauren Pritchard and finding new music is what it is all about!