Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Spotify rolled out a new app last week: Swarm.fm, which adds new social music features to both Spotify and Facebook, and offers a plethora of powerful features for actively discovering music from your friends, or sitting back and turning just about anything in the service, from tags to friends, into a personalized radio service that also reflects your own taste.
If you havenât heard of Swarm.fm before, thatâs probably because itâs been hiding in stealth mode until this release, which constitutes âthe first glimpse into Swarm.fm,â according to the start-up. The Swarm.fm app (video below) bridges gaps that previously existed between Spotify, Facebook, and your friends, allowing you to see and hear what all of your Facebook friends have been listening to in any Facebook-Connected music service â i.e. not just Spotify.
âI can confirm 100 percent that it works with Rdio, Songza, etc.,â Swarm.fm co-founder Peter Watts told Evolver.fm. âAnything that publishes here.â
Swarm.fm Spotify App Tour
And thatâs just the beginning. To get started, you donât have to authorize Facebook, but the app works better if you do because most (all?) of us have more friends in Facebook than we do in Spotifyâs own social network. (Watts and co-founder Andrew Dever promise that the app wonât post stuff to your wall.) Regardless of how you register, Swarm.fm offers a short tutorial about each tab, which is crucial, because thereâs a lot going on here.
Swarm.fmâs Spotify app represents the culmination of quite a bit of evolution, from a neat Chrome extension that put play buttons all over Facebook even before Facebook launched its big music initiative last fall, to a music hack that won 10 grand at a Music Hack Day earlier this year, to this, todayâs release within Spotify, which signifies the first time the whole vision has been realized, according to Watts and Dever, who are not shy about extolling the virtues of their creation.
Why are these people so excited? Swarm.fmâs Spotify app promises the following:
See what friends are listening to, liking and sharing online, even if they donât use Spotify or Swarm.fm
âMuteâ friends with bad taste, and stay connected with those you care about
Brand new albums from artists you love, as they happen
Explore rich artist profiles, with music, photos, tags and friendsâ activity
Dive deep into a friendâs collection, or play their favorites as an instant mix
Listen to personalised mixes from any genre, mood, year or artist.
Instant Browse & Search
Quickly navigate your music library, including artists, friends and tags
Access your Spotify, Facebook and Swarm.fm favorites, all in one placeâ
Itâs one thing to promise the world, and another to deliver it. So, how did Swarm.fm stack up?
Overall, we found that it definitely added powerful social features to not just Spotify but Facebook too, that were otherwise missing. As I write this, Iâm listening to an album from my old coworkerâs band, Wooden Shjips, which I had somehow not known about. Really, thatâs proof enough that it works â if I actually know a person and didnât know about their album, a social music app would do well to let me know about it. Thatâs just what Swarm.fm did, in minutes.
We found the Home screen to present a nice dashboard of whatâs going on today with our friends, and with the artists in our âswarmâ â basically, what we and our friends are listening to. Thankfully, you can âmuteâ friends if you donât like their taste, and theyâll never be the wiser.
Youâll also see new releases (and just about everything else in this app) personalized to your taste based on past Spotify behavior and local music library; Recent additions; artist profiles based on your taste (this worked great); and a tags section (which delivered an awesome krautrock selection).
This versatility means you can either âlean forwardâ by actively seeing what your friends are listening to and researching artists to add to your own playlists â and you can play their activity not just on Spotify, but on any other Facebook Connect music service, which is the first time weâve seen that.
Or, you can âlean backâ by turning any artist, friend, tag, year, or mood into a playlist/radio stream â all of which are informed by your own previous Spotify listening. (Swarm.fm uses APIs from Last.fm and The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm for some of this.) And from the Friends section, you can also listen to instant mixes based on their favorite tracks, or delve into their entire collection of Spotify playlists. You can also do the latter in Spotifyâs own social network, but again, youâre likely to have many more Facebook friends, which makes this a new feature too. On top of that, Swarm.fm has its own social network, so if you just want to add someone in Swarm.fm to track their music, but donât want to go so far as to âfriendâ them, you can.
The Activity page is our favorite aspect of this app, because as mentioned up-top, it gives you something that neither Facebook nor Spotify does on its own: a simple, unified interface for seeing what your friends Liked on Facebook, or listened to in Spotify or any other Facebook Connected music service, and turning all of that into easy on-demand listening playlists or radio stations. This activity is sliced into three categories: Recommendations (the stuff youâre likely to like, which worked great); Top Friends (these are people on Facebook or Swarm.fm whom you pick manually); and All Activity (a combination).
Finally, Swarm.fm puts all of your own Facebook artist Likes, Spotify starred songs, and Swarm.fm favorites in one place, so you can more conveniently keep track of your own taste, in addition to that of your friends on all three social networks. Whew.
You can try the Swarm.fm app now by going here, or by installing it from the Spotify App Finder.