A new MP3 download service has been announced that pays users when people download and buy the music that they have recommended.
The Mflow service looks set to merge a traditional music download site with social networking, as each user has a profile, and users ‘follow’ each other in a similar way to Twitter. Users can recommend songs and add comments to tracks or albums which then appear on their profile.
The service is also claimed to allow bands to communicate directly with fans, and allow users to be first in the queue to hear new music as it is released.
MP3 tracks on Mflow currently cost 79p and albums are £7.99, although Mflow says that tiered pricing may be rolled out in the future. When other people buy the music you recommend you receive 20% of the purchase price as Mflow credit. Unlike MSN Music, there will be no minimum purchase and music is available on a track-by-track basis.
Mflow is currently in closed beta and, like Spotify which allows users to stream free music online, sign-up is currently invitation-only. Unlike Spotify’s free version, however, the Mflow service is free of advertising.
Read the Which? guide to Spotify to find out about free online music streaming
Preview MP3s before you download
According to Mflow, its MP3 track listing has 200,000 tracks from the Sony and Beggars record labels, but is set to grow towards 2 million by March 2010. Tracks are downloaded in 320kbps MP3 format.
Mflow lets users listen to a 30-second preview of any song, or, if they recommend the song, full-length track previews are available that they can also email to their friends for them to check out. They can share songs that they have downloaded and also songs that they haven’t yet purchased.
Future plans for the Mflow service include social media integration with sites such as Facebook in early 2010, and mobile apps later in the year.
Which? tech expert Al Warman said: ‘MFlow could well be a big hit with music lovers who want to keep up-to-date with all the latest bands. The pay-to-recommend model is a clever way to reward downloaders who may otherwise buy music online at iTunes or other download sites.
‘However, MP3 download prices can vary significantly across the web, so music fans should check out MP3 price comparison sites such as Tunechecker.com to get the lowest prices.’
Mflow is currently available for invited Mac and PC users to download and install, and is expected to emerge from beta around March 2010.
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