FlowSongs is a service that allows users of Pure's internet enabled radios to tag and buy tracks while listening to any digital, FM or internet radio station. So in order to get make use of this service you're going to need one of the following radios: Avanti Flow, Evoke Flow, Oasis Flow, Siesta Flow or Sensia.
And if you own one of these, and have already managed to get hooked up to The Lounge, then the good news is that setting up FlowSongs is fairly straightforward. In fact, it's a walk in the park compared to the stress and hassle that you probably originally encountered getting your Pure radio connected.
You simply log on to your Lounge account, register the devices that you want included in the service and top up your balance using a credit card. You'll also need to download the latest software to your Pure device to get the FlowSongs button, but once you've done that, then you're away.
The premise of FlowSongs is simple. You hear a song you like and you push the FlowSongs button to identify the track (courtesy of Shazam). If the track is recognised you'll be given the option to buy it, along with the price tag. If the song isn't recognised then it probably means that it is not yet available to buy via the 7digital network that powers the service (all of the prices are as per 7digital's store as well). Or, it could mean that the tagging has failed. This seemed to happen around one in five times, but a second push of the FlowSongs button seemed to rectify it.
The tagging function usually takes around 10-15 seconds, and then around the same time again if you decide to purchase the song. You can also add a PIN to keep your account safe - handy if you've got pesky kids who are likely to download music from artists that you've never even heard of (like J-Daddy or Lawrence and the Mechanics). The music keeps playing in the background whilst the process takes place, so it isn't too much of a bother waiting.
Once you've bought a song, you have a few options. You can choose to stream that song, from any Pure devices in your armoury, at anytime, (it will automatically be synced to your Lounge account), you can go online and play the song via the Lounge website, or you can download the track, DRM free, and do pretty much what you want with it (within the law, of course). In fact, you can download it up to five times (depending on the licence). Via the Lounge website you'll also be able to create playlists to listen back to streams of your tunes on your radios.
The downloads are MP3 files, 320kbps where available. Every song that this reviewer has downloaded so far has been 320kbps. Tunes are also tagged via ID3 v2.3, although artwork was a bit hit and miss - it was included in just over half of the songs we've downloaded.
The downside to the service is that it isn't free. You'll get 90 days to try it out, but after that you're gonna have to cough up £2.99 a year to use it. Basically, you're paying for the Shazam tagging function, which is a bit cheeky because you can whip out your smartphone and carry out the same process for free with the Shazam app (albeit with a maximum of 5 tags per month with the free version, unless you signed up early and still enjoy unlimited tagging). It seems silly for Pure to charge what is essentially a very small fee, but will be an inconvenience for users. Surely if more people got on board, using the service for free, more music would get bought and everyone would be happy?
FlowSongs is a great idea by Pure, who knows that it will tap into a base of customers already well accustomed to internet connected radios.
It's annoying that you're expected to pay £2.99 a year, but if you're going to do a lot of music buying via this service, then we suppose you'll hardly miss an extra £2.99.
The idea is straightforward and, in practice, the simplicity of it is definitely its strong point. Sure, there are more complex features that could be added to make it a bit more revolutionary (such as auto correlation with your existing music library) but if you're looking for a fast, handy and easy way to buy digital music, without firing up your PC, or pulling your phone out of your pocket, then you can't really go wrong.