Move over, Muzak. Roqbot lets you play DJ at any hotspot with the subscription service with an app for your iPhone or Android. Roqbot (which beat out 400 other apps in the SXSW Music Accellerator contest this spring) launched a retail version in November, and a Gap store in San Francisco is among the first to let its customers pick the music.
Rolling Stone’s piece The Gap and Roqbot Let Shoppers Decide Store Soundtrack included some details:
Visitors to the chain’s Chestnut Street location in San Francisco, which has access to Roqbot’s catalogue of 6 million songs, can now use their iPhone or Android handsets to select and choose upcoming tunes. Crowdsourced suggestions, powered by a custom music system, actually affect the direction of the location’s soundtrack.
When browsing through the Chestnut Street store’s music options, I definitely did not have access to 6 million tunes—it was pretty slim pickings, as the screenshot at right illustrates. (The Roqbot blog clarifies that the retailers have access to “a customized music library” from its 6-million-song catalog.)
By signing up for an account on the mobile version of the Roqbot site, I was able to check in and suggest tracks for the Chestnut Street Gap store—even though I’m in Ohio. It makes me wonder if, say, a group of Beliebers could juke the system and force-play locally unwanted songs.
A search for local venues with Roqbot (from HOWID HQ in Cincinnati) turned up an orthodontics office near Cleveland and an offline pub in Chicago; most all the other subscribing venues were on the coasts.
Users can add a song to the end of the queue for free or use two credits to express-play a favorite. Other users checked in at the venue can vote a song up or down, adding a little democracy to the former jukebox dictatorship. (No longer will bar patrons be held aurally hostage by dudes who like to load up the record machine with $20 worth of Bob Seger.)
Playing on the social aspect of the app, Gap is offering a 25% discount to shoppers using Roqbot at the Chestnut Street store. Response from employees and customers has been positive so far, a Gap representative says, but it’s too early to say whether Roqbot will be rolled out to other locations. Here’s hoping the days of Christmas cover albums on repeat are over.