Mflow, a UK-based MP3 download service that pays users when people download and buy the music that they have recommended, is now available to all UK users, having been in invitation-only beta since December 2009.
As Which? reported last year, 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.
Users must download the free mflow software which is an iTunes-style desktop application. Mflow users can listen to 30-second previews of music tracks and buy MP3 downloads for between 79p and 99p per track. Around one million tracks are available for download in 320kbps MP3 format.
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Flow and reflow music
To recommend a track, click on the ‘flow’ button, and followers can then ‘reflow’ music they also like, adding a short comment. Each mflow user’s profile page shows their followers, music library and recommended tracks.
Mflow lets users listen to a 30-second preview of any song, or, if they recommend the song, full-length 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.
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. Influential music fans and publications on mflow include NME, Clash magazine and Phill Jupitus, and users can stream their music recommendations via a constant feed of music being shared.
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Mflow a rival to iTunes and Spotify
One way in which mflow differentiates itself from rivals such as iTunes and Spotify is by rewarding users for recommending music. When a follower buys a track you ‘flowed’ to them, you receive 20% of the purchase price in mflow credit to spend on more music downloads.
Mflow has also revealed future improvements to be launched this weekend, and over the next two weeks, including:
- Sending flows to specific followers or groups of followers
- One-click push of music bought via mflow to iTunes
- Significant expansion of the music catalogue towards the 4 million tracks ‘already secured by mflow’
- Sending flows to Twitter and Facebook
- Web-based user profiles on personalised web pages (e.g. www.mflow.com/username)
Social networking updates
Oleg Fomenko, mflow CEO, said: ‘These updates will make mflow an even more social experience. The private beta phase has been invaluable, as we have got feedback from thousands of real users and have been able to understand how they want mflow to work.
‘We want people to be able to share their music across the networks that they are part of, so incorporating flow to Twitter and Facebook is a critical part.’
According to mflow, it has secured deals with major music labels including Sony and Universal, negotiations with EMI and Warner Music are ‘at an advanced stage’, and there are deals in place with many independent labels.
Read the Which? guide to Spotify to find out about free online music streaming
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