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This Is Not a Pivot: Exfm Relaunches Mobile Apps

"Our trending section is really a measure of an acceleration of love." -cofounder Charles Smith
exfm android aotw This Is Not a Pivot: Exfm Relaunches Mobile Apps

A shot of the new Exfm Android app.

Exfm, the streaming music startup that began as a wee Chrome extension, hasn’t pivoted. But maybe it’s changed course by a few degrees. “It’s not a pivot, it’s—I don’t want to say an extension, but it’s an extension of the vision,” cofounder and COO Charles Smith told Betabeat. “We were betting on two things: the first was the explosion of mp3s posted to the web. And we thought the Chrome operating system was going to be huge. So we’re one for two.”

They don’t think Chrome OS is going to be huge anymore?

“Nooooo,” he said.

Over the past few months, Exfm has extended its offerings and added a stack of features to its flagship, ex.fm, a music discovery site that offers curated feeds of music and trending tracks as well as an embeddable player. Today the startup announced the complementary overhaul of its Android and iOS apps. “The main idea is to get them to parity with the web service,” Mr. Smith said.

When Exfm first started, remember, it was just a browser extension that noted addresses of audio files as you browsed the web and collected them into a library. But the founders realized it was time to build a tricked-out central hub for that library. Now the experience is much fuller, more like a Hype Machine or Last.fm. (Exfm emphasizes human curation rather than counting listens; also, it does not license any music from labels, although it’s not out of the question for the future.) The site focuses on discovery, recommendations and sharing of music over building a library of all the music on the web.

“We’re going to what we call a push-play experience,” Mr. Smith said. “Go to ex.fm, push play and listen to music. It has completely changed everything for us.” In February, the site had 430,000 unique visitors, more than four times the 90,000 who checked in in October when the site launched.

The iPhone app, which was released in June, has about 70,000 downloads. The Android app, launched about six weeks ago, has had about 15,000 downloads. Until today, the apps could only stream tracks. But now mobile users will be able to do everything web users can, including share and “love” tracks as well as watch what’s trending.

Exfm is still “about organizing all the music on the web” via its Chrome, Firefox and Safari plugins, Mr. Smith said. The database has collected more than 20 million tracks, no license needed. Exfm still has no revenue stream, but is interested in making a product for bands and artists to make money or promote themselves via streaming music.

The startup, which just raised $1.5 million (and $1), is hiring Python and Android developers and a designer to join its seven employees. Exfm gives its employees monthly gift cards to Gimme Coffee on Mott Street, Mr. Smith noted. “All we really care about in the office is getting the best possible coffee,” he said.

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