Today, Turntable.fm’s latest mobile venture is launching out of beta as a free iOS app to the public. Music lovers, meet Piki.fm.
Piki.fm is the asyncrhonous counterpart to Turntable.fm’s real-time social music experience. Where Turntable requires that you and your friends (or randos) all be in the same room at the same time, Piki lets you enjoy a steady stream of your friends’ music at your own leisure and under your own conditions.
First, you sign up for the service and make your first “pick.” You search through Turntable.fm’s database (under the sameDMCA license Pandora and Songza operate under) and set the tone for your own stream of music that will represent you on Piki. Your own station flavor, if you will.
Then, you can search through Facebook, Twitter, and Turntable to find friends, who you’ll then follow. If at first you don’t succeed in finding friends (Piki is brand new, after all), Piki will auto-generate some people to follow based on your first “pick”.
From there, all you have to do is sit back and start listening.
Obviously, apps like Pandora and Songza deliver the same instant gratification of effortless great streaming music, and without the added hassle of friend-finding. However, Piki totally returns the favor where social is concerned.
Most music and/or radio apps do social in a voyeuristic way. You watch what your friends are listening to, maybe on Twitter or Facebook, and that’s that. On Piki, your friends become the stations. The title of the song and artist appear on the top banner of the screen, but the main image you see if your friend, the one who picked this song, just for you to listen to later.
What’s more, the app practically begs for interaction. When you pick a song, you have the opportunity to share a few words about it, and even dedicate it to a friend, who will then “receive” the song as a pop-up notification. Users can “react” through a broad range of emotion badges, comment, and re-pick songs to share on their own feed.
Users can even send direct messages to each other, like any other social network.
Of course, this poses the problem of randomness. A flood of your friends’ music could include multiple genres, themes, etc. and it may be a bit overwhelming. Founder Billy Chasen explains that “some people like that, that’s how [he] used to listen to music on iTunes, just all at once on shuffle.”
But in order to cater to those who require a certain common thread in their listening routine, Piki offers a broad range of controls to make sure your stream includes just what you want. For example, you can choose to filter your stream down to songs “picked” by people who generally pick a certain artist or genre. You can search for these filters, or choose from pre-selected options.
You can also fiddle around with how frequently certain friends’ picks are played. Because of the limitations of the DMCA license, you can’t choose to play songs from only one person, or cherry-pick which friends you’ll hear. However, you can adjust the frequency from more, to normal, to less, tuning out those you don’t jive (haha) with and turning up the volume on your musical soul mates.
In the future, Chasen sees a subscription-based business model somewhere down the road, perhaps giving users more tools to fine-tune their Piki stream. For now, however, the team is focused on the launch and building out an accompanying Android app.