When social music startup Rexly launched at Disrupt NYC last May, we called it the social music discovery app that Ping should have been. It shows you what your friends are listening to on iTunes, but filters the stream in an attempt to surface the best stuff. Up until now, you had to log into Rexly’s site to experience it. But today it is releasing its iPhone app, Music With Friends, which takes over your iPod player and incorporates all sorts of social features.
As you listen to the songs and playlists on your iPhone, Rexly scrobbles them and they show up in a feed that your friends can see. Similarly, you can see a feed of all the songs your friends are listening to who use Rexly, or the most popular songs overall. But instead of just spitting out an unfiltered stream of the ost recent songs in your feed (although you can see that too), the default filter is Rexly’s “magic” stream. It shows you songs from friends or other people you are following you’ve designated as super trustworthy in regards to their musical taste.
The ability to tell the app which people you “Supertrust” is a way to get around the problem we already see in Facebook since the recent launch of music-sharing apps and its Ticker, which is overflowing with all of your friends bad Spotify music choices. (Facebook addresses this issue with its own Music Dashboard). Just because they are your friends, does not mean they have good taste in music. Rexly lets you pick which of the people you follow you trust, and highlights their listening stream.
For every song in your stream, you can listen to a 30-second sample, give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down (which further trains Rexly’s algorithm) or leave a comment. You can also share the song on Twitter or Facebook. Ping, which launched with no social sharing features outside of iTunes, now only lets you share on Twitter. Until Apple and Facebook resolve their differences, Rexly is positioning itself as a bridge between the two.
Rexly’s biggest drawback, however, is the 30-second sample. It really isn’t competing against iTune’s native Ping feature more than it is against all of the new social music apps on Facebook (Spotify, MOG, Rdio, etc.). They allow you to listen to the full song when a friend shares it (at least for anyone who is a subscriber to one of the services—and even if you are not, Spotify is giving away free 6 month trials). But that is more an obstacle set up by the music industry than Rexly. If all of these new music sharing apps actually result in more sales for the labels, they might finally take down that barrier. And Rexly plans to add your friends’ activities on Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and other music streaming services so it will be able to piggyback on their efforts as well.