Mobile collaborative playlisting (a prototype)March 19, 2010
One of my colleagues at Olin College, Mark Chang, teaches a course on Mobile Applications Development. Instead of a midterm exam, he runs a design contest. We invited Paul Lamere of Echo Nest to campus to talk about their APIs, and Mark’s students had ten days to build an app for the Android that used those tools – kind of like Music Hack Day. Mark was kind enough to ask me to be a judge, so I got to see all the great prototypes they came up with.
While all of the apps were excellent, the one that I thought had the most interesting concept was the DJMixr (by students Miguel Bejar, Rhan Kim, Hyeontaek Oh, and Poorva Singal), an app to make a collaborative playlist for a party. The app would allow guests to add songs to the playlist directly, and also would scrobble song information from the phone’s music player (it would be backed with a streaming on-demand music player, so it would only transfer the song information, not the songs themselves). The Echo Nest back end would be used to interpolate recommendations based on the seed songs, in order to allow smooth transitions between songs to avoid musical whiplash.
While this app is just a prototype, of course, one of the things I find intriguing about this is that it’s a different social model for the music at a party. Rather than having one person be responsible, or at best having people wandering over to a laptop between drinks to maybe add a song or two or change the Pandora station, an application like this would make it possible to have a truly collaboratively generated soundtrack to an event. It seems like there would be some interesting emergent behaviors, like maybe a metastable equilibrium between music for the people who want to dance and those dedicated to indie rock. What do you think?