I spent some of this weekend up to my nose in Soundrop, a Spotify chat room application. Soundrop has been available for about two years. I wouldn’t call the feature competition for plug.dj or its predecessor, Turntable.fm, but it is around and worth knowing about if you are a Spotify fan.
To access Soundrop you need a Spotify account, of course, and also access to either Facebook or Twitter. I’ve got all three applications. When I clicked Soundrop’s “Get Soundrop” button, it took me to another page with a “get on Spotify” link. Clicking that activated my Windows based Spotify program. I signed in and let Soundrop install on my version of Spotify as an app.
You need to sign into Facebook or Twitter to get full use of Soundrop—specifically the ability to add tracks, vote, and chat in the rooms. Once you’ve logged in via one of these social networks, you can fully explore the Soundrop universe.
Immediately upon signing in the feature offers you a variety of rooms: genre rooms, theme rooms, and popular rooms—the latter defined as rooms with lots of Spotify users in them. I jumped into a space titled “Indie Wok,” which defines itself as a “mix of all things Indie.” Last three picks of the room as I write: Franz Ferdinand, Joy Division, and the Arctic Monkeys. It’s a nice sound.
How do Indie Wok tunes get queued? Click “add track” and add a song to the play list. Indie Wokkers then vote on your suggestion. The tracks with the most votes get to the top of the play list. I can literally see songs I’ve voted for elevate up the queue.
This is an interesting and in some ways more positive method of programming a room. There’s no “dislike” or in plug.dj’s case “meh” button anywhere. Tunes get voted on before they play, not afterwards.
But if you are really looking for online chatting while music plays, I’m not sure that Soundrop is your best choice. Although Indie Wok had 139 visitors when I came by, nobody was chatting. Indeed, “nobody is here,” somebody strangely told me in the chat box. I’m not exactly sure what that meant, but I dropped by some electro and dubstep rooms and didn’t pick up a lot of discussion there either.
Also, Soundrop doesn’t make much of an effort, visually speaking. There’s no attempt to construct some sense of a physical room with deejays spinning disks. To be fair, it would be very difficult to create that kind of presence within Spotify’s overbearing metastructure.
Still, Soundrop greatly improves Spotify for me. Although I like Spotify’s play list feature, I don’t normally want to park myself in some music app and play tunes I know over and over again. And I don’t want some database algorithm doing it for me either. Call me an old fashioned romantic, but I still think that music is better with humans making the choices.
Other features: you can “favorite” a Soundrop room and it will appear at the top of your room directory. You can turn the rooms’ latest offerings into a Spotify play list. You can share a room as a web URL. And you can create your own room. That’s Spotify/Soundrop in a nutshell.
We cover social music sharing communities every Monday in our Internet DJ feature.