A Q&A with exfm co-founder and COO Charles Smith. The New York City–based company was founded in March of 2010.
SUB: Please describe what exfm is, and the value proposition you bring to music discovery.
Smith: Exfm is a platform for social music discovery. We have four tools that combine to make the platform: 1.) ex.fm, our destination web site; 2.) browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari; 3.) iPhone and Android apps; 4.) a site music player.
The browser extensions and site player provide a great playback experience on music sites across the Internet, while adding songs to our database. All of those songs are then also available for listening on ex.fm. Once they are discovered and loved, they are shared with users’ networks, providing a great opportunity to discover new music.
SUB: What are your target markets?
Smith: For ex.fm and our mobile apps, anyone who loves music. For our site music player, any site that hosts music and wants to have a terrific playback experience.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Smith: Music is entertainment, so any and all forms of entertainment could be considered our competition. We strive to continually grow the amount of time the end-user spends listening to great music via exfm.
SUB: What differentiates exfm from the competition?
Smith: Our approach and our interface. Our approach is to take music from all over the Internet and put it into a variety of options for playback. Utilizing both human and automated forms of aggregating playlists gives every listener a taste of what they like. Our interface balances the functionality of listening with the display of the social aspects of our service.
SUB: What do you hope motivates people to switch from music services like Spotify and Pandora to exfm?
Smith: People that love discovering the best new music on the web will use our service rather than Pandora or Spotify—we’re much more committed to discovery than either of those services.
SUB: What social media platforms is exfm available on at this point?
Smith: We currently have song sharing options for Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and email.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took to establishing it?
Smith: The company was formed in March 2010. Our initial product was a Chrome browser extension that allowed the user to play back all of the mp3s on any page while also creating a library of all of those songs. We had a tremendously loyal user base which pointed our way to the push-play experience we have now.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for exfm? Was there an “aha” moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Smith: There is so much free, legal music available on the web and we saw an opportunity to build a platform that organized all of that music and enabled users to listen in one place and share what they love. The sources for the music are infinite: music blogs, artist sites, fan sites, and many others. Our “aha” moment was realizing that users would benefit from a platform that gave them a way to share what they loved on a platform designed for discovery.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Smith: All startups face similar obstacles; building an audience, finding a team that is passionate about your vision and delivering a product that users love. We’ve been extremely lucky to have managed our growth effectively and built a core team that loves music and is able to blend their own passion with that of our users.
SUB: You recently raised $1.5 million in new funding. What are your plans for the funds?
Smith: We need to continue to build out our team so that we can fulfill our product vision. We also plan to work on how we can start to have an impact on different pieces of the music industry such as live shows.
SUB: Do you plan to raise more outside funding in the near future?
SUB: What are your goals for exfm over the next year or so?
Smith: Our main goal is to continue to expand our platform so that more people discover more great music with exfm every day.
exfm – www.ex.fm