Last year, Tim Heineke of Twones and Tone.fm, Marcel Corso and Diedrik Martens launched a new Amsterdam-based music startup, called Shuffler.fm, to let users listen to the tunes and artists being covered by music blogs while they read.
The startup thus began its career as a cool web app for music discovery, with the goal of aggregating music from blogs across the Internets — based on genre. Over the last year, Shuffler.fm has evolved into a service that now allows users to play continuous mixes of their favorite music blogs, browse through popular songs and artists through a nifty search function, as well as create personalized channels based on “favorite-ing” tracks and blogs. Music blogs can also create their own pages, including a “Play this blog” button that launches the blog’s own channel. (Check out Sarah’s coverage in August here.)
With its initial functionality, Shuffler.fm was really a hybrid of Pandora and ex.fm for music blogs-curated tunes. Yet, on Tuesday, the startup expanded that influence to include Flipboard, launching an iPad app that transforms music blogs and websites into radio stations, curating them in a Flipboard-style layout of words, pictures, and streaming audio.
The Shuffler.fm iPad essentially app creates an aggregated music magazine that serves content from a diverse set of music bloggers and experts in realtime (content is updated by the minute), providing a ready-to-consume filtered stream of music optimized for discoverability and at the same time presenting a curated experience so that users don’t have to deal with parsing the ridiculous amount of noise being dished out by music content producers. In other words, it’s music listening with an editorial filter.
Of course, rather than basing the content it serves on your existing tastes, like so many other music services out there (Last.fm, Pandora), Shuffler’s audio is brought to you in genre-based channels that are populated by (only the coolest) blogs, like Pitchfork, TheMusic.FM, and Stereogum to name a few.
Users can create playlists of songs from these visual RSS blog feeds at the bottom of the app, where they can then listen via the app’s player, all while reading about the songs they’re listening to. The app also supports AirPlay so that users aren’t just confined to listening to music from their iPad’s speakers.
For those who’ve already been using Shuffler’s web app, the experience of using the iPad app will be familiar. The two experiences are comparable, with perhaps even a bit more simplicity in terms of design and UX in the new iPad app. The experience is also, of course, very reminiscent of that of Flipboard, in that content is displayed in a visually attractive, tile-based layout that does a great job of balancing visual candy without distracting from the music and discoverability features.
Listening to a blog-powered radio stream while being able to view relevant video content or swipe through to the band or blog’s homepage is at once a familiar experience that may not sound particularly earth-shaking, but it’s done in such a way that it still feels new. It’s a great human curated alternative to the slew of machine algorithms that are today powering many of our favorite music apps. And it also helps that the app has built-in bookmarking and sharing features that let you come back to your favorite tracks or blog posts while sharing the music you discover with friends.
To help it in its mission to become the new Pandora/Flipboard of the iPad, Founder Tim Heineke told us that the startup has just closed a $700K round of angel funding. While Heineke was not yet able to share the names of the investors, he did say that Shuffler.fm has gained nearly 500K users to date. Will update as we learn more.