As a publication that tracks the crowded digital music ecosystem, we know all too well the simple act of choosing what to use for music each day can be as daunting as it is enjoyable. Each new day brings a new set of music products and services. Luckily, many of them do something new, and ListnPlay's EQuala (iOS and Android; free) is one of these, thankfully.
We've seen apps that help you discover and listen to your friends' favorite music before, but EQuala goes an extra step with a personalized Internet radio station that is based directly on what your friends are (or have been) listening to -- and giving you control over which friends are included, and how much influence they have. This lets you weed out the duds.
To try EQuala, you'll need to log in with Facebook, which grants EQuala access to your listening and sharing behavior on third-party services tracked by Facebook (as was first reported here).
Then, it's time to build your radio station out of Facebook friends and/or EQuala users. To ascertain whether a friend is worthy of your station, click on any person in your search results to see what songs they've listened to recently on any Facebook-connected music service (which is most of them).
Once you've (literally) populated your station, visit the EQualizer to customize it -- or, as ListnPlay would have it, "equalize your friends" in order to "commusicate." You'll see each chosen friend on his or her own sliding scale (see screenshot). You can adjust them left or right to determine how much influence they'll have on your station. If you like someone's taste in music, but only in smaller doses, simply slide them lower on the scale. When you're happy with your adjustments, hit play and enjoy. You can always add and delete friends from the EQualizer later.
Just as your friends are a source of music for you, you are also a source of music for them. They'll see what you listen to in any Facebook-connected music service, but you can also insert a song into your friends' stream by giving it a "shout out." Each shout out gets compiled into your music "DNA" profile -- the same one that can give you a percentage score for how similar you are to any Facebook or Equala friend, in terms of the music you listen to.
"EQuala revives the idea of listening to music with your friends, as opposed to the isolated listening experience of yet another content-based playlist," EQuala co-founder and CEO Lior Aharoni told Evolver.fm. "EQuala gives music a truly social context, as songs are connected to specific people, who leave footprints that embody their own taste."
In our time so far with EQuala, we've found that it does provide a neat social context for music, and a neat new way to listen. The app makes it so easy to get the music playing; add and delete friends; and adjust their influence, that we found ourselves experimenting with our station a great deal.