Chrome extension: exfm

Apart from placing in Business Insider’s top 25 “hush-hush” NYC startups that you need to know about, exfm (formerly Extension FM) hasn’t received anywhere near the amount of attention it deserves. BI blames this, in part, on the product’s exclusivity to a “niche browser” (Chrome is the favorite of DroidDog readers, and by a hefty margin). But more and more of the mainstream browsing public is using Chrome every day, thanks to being lightweight, the Chrome Web Store, and those cute speed test commercials.

As odd a choice the browser may seem to some, Chrome users are a smart audience to address with a new media product. Browser music discovery, sharing, and organization is a nifty application, but when you consider that the Chrome browser functions as the user interface for Google Chrome notebooks (like the Cr-48), systems like exfm increase exponentially in potential value, at least for some users. And did I mention that it’s a rather nifty system?

As the video explains, whenever you hit a site with MP3s available, your exfm button will sport a numbered badge, telling you how many tracks are available on that site. You can start dding tracks to the queue then, or just save the list of songs for later listening–they are all automatically added to your library. Yeah, exfm indexes all of the MP3s files on a given page, automatically. You can see how easy it is to build a huge library fast, which requires some serious organizational skills. Thankfully, exfm takes care of tagging for you.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing a user can do in terms of rating or categorizing of the tracks in a central database, so you’re not being delivered tunes that you’re likely to enjoy based on past listens or ratings or anything like that. Every time you hit a site with MP3s, they’re added to your library. If you browse to a page that lists 30 different genres of music, that’s what you see in the list for adding to the queue. In exchange for speedy discovery of bulk tracks, you give up the personalization of other streaming services that cater to your particular tastes. Because of this, simply listening to the queue after snagging a bunch of tracks and bulk adding them can be a mixed bag of sheer pleasure and frustrating multiple deletions. So it helps to know something about the music or the sites you’re browsing, which kind of hinders the discovery aspect of exfm.

The social aspects of exfm are pretty neat, allowing for both the standard sharing functions of Twitter, Facebook, etc., and a feature called noting. Noting tracks allows you to auto-share them with friends that follow you and vice-versa. I think this Note window would be an appropriate place to allow users to add tags of similar bands, or something similar. If I’m listening to a Ministry track, it would be great to start typing in Skinny Puppy or Pigface and see the name auto-populate and tie these groups together. If enough people link the two or three, there could be some sort of recommendation engine that sorts newly discovered tracks according to previously established tastes.

As much as I’d like to see a customized experience, a la last.fm or GrooveShark, I’m a big fan of exfm. It is a fairly young product that could stand a little growth in features as well as user support (37k installs ain’t bad, but I expect huge expansion in 2011). It’s off to a great start and is definitely worth the free install and a couple of weeks for testing. Get exfm here.

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