There's a new way to tap into the music tastes of your Facebook friends.
Myxer.com, a leading site for ringtones and media for phones, is shifting gears into the streaming music space. This week it launched Myxer Social Radio, a Web site and mobile app for streaming custom themed radio stations. The twist: invite friends to your station, called a room, and chat about the music.
Users also get a real-time activity feed of what their Facebook friends are listening to on Myxer, and can jump into a friend's room at any time. If a user is feeling lonely, they can also send a request to a friend to join them.
Visitors of a room can influence the music by voting on songs, as the playlist will evolve based on the mood and tastes of the guests. But it won't go as far as changing a genre. (A pop music fan won't cause Britney Spears to play in a death metal-themed room, for example.)
Myxer Social Radio requires a Facebook account to sign up, and will post to Facebook when a user creates or enters a room--but sharing can be toggled off.
The live interaction of rooms separates Myxer from other streaming radio services like Pandora. In Myxer, pause a song and the room can still hear the song--it just mutes the station feed and will join back in by hitting play. Aside from live chatting about a song, users can also upload video about what a song means to them, a feature called stories. Dedications will be the next feature to roll out, letting users record a video and send a song to a friend.
Myxer is not the only service to incorporate chat rooms and Facebook connections. Turntable.fm also has a chat feature, but room creation works differently--each listener adds specific songs into the playlist. Myxer's room playlists are generated automatically based on the genre and user interests.
Myk Willis, chief executive and founder of the Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based Myxer, said the service has a catalog of more than 12 million tracks. It's powered by the music platform Echo Nest, which also worked with ClearChannel's iHeartRadio music app.
Myxer.com, which reports 14 million unique visitors a month, will continue to offer the downloads of ringtones and other media that has made it popular. But, Willis said, the focus on streaming radio is a necessary evolution as smartphones become more popular.
"For a long time we were focused on feature phones and the entertainment products people would want on their feature phones," Willis said. "We need to focus our energies on the new kinds of services available with the adoption of smartphones and high bandwidth."
As far as competition from the already established--and highly publicized--streaming radio stations like Pandora and iHeartRadio, Willis said he thinks the timing of Myxer's launch is "fantastic."
"There is an infusion of smartphones in people's hands," Willis said. "Only 6 percent of radio listening hours are done on Internet radio. This market has huge growth potential. I don't believe this is a market share game between the competitors."