Spotify’s recent cutbacks to ten hours of music per month for users of their popular free service seems set to open up the free music market once again. The change comes prior to the service’s much anticipated US launch, and is rumoured to be the result of music labels pressuring the company to increase its paying user base.
Spotify aimed to provide a free music service available for all when it launched in 2008, providing an alternative to piracy. However, yesterday’s blog post featuring the announcement has quickly massed comments from users displaying their disappointment and announcing their departure from the service. If you’re one of many now panicking about how you’re going to ration out your 10 hours, don’t worry, there are other options.
Mflow is an alternative free music service, currently only available in the UK. It sets itself apart by offering uninterrupted streaming of music through its downloadable app or straight from a browser, with no advertising. Currently, the young service remains in an open beta, and features around five million songs (less than half of Spotify’s impressive library). It is further distinguished from Spotify through is its impressive social network integration and “flow” functionality.
A “flow” allows music recommendations to be easily posted to social networks or other Mflow users. Very much a Twitter-Spotify hybrid, Mflow allows users to create a profile and follow each other, essentially subscribing users to each other’s listening habits. The service also tracks how many of a user’s “flows” are then listened to by their followers, and more. Furthering its Twitter feel, trending music is monitored through use of hashtags. Mflow creates an interesting social music concept, which far excels anything seen on Spotify or elsewhere, and should continue to grow as the site develops.
Once you’ve got some followers, Mflow then allows you to earn credit by recommending songs. If someone goes on to purchase a song you posted in a “flow” you’ll earn 20% of the cost of the song, which you can then use to bolster your own mp3 collection. This has created a focus on new and upcoming music as some users spend their time discovering new gems in the hope that followers will purchase them.
The service generates income through offering the songs for purchase through digital download, and despite only being in beta, looks to be a highly promising alternative for those seeking free music online.