Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Sometimes, it seems like half of Sweden must be developing music apps. Who could blame them, after watching their countrymen turn Spotify into the most-paid-for on-demand music subscription service in the world? The latest Swedish creation to hit the Evolver.fm tip line: Blicko, which allows anyone to set up democratic radio stations for a home, office, or public venue, allowing anyone to submit songs to the queue and vote on songs so that they reflect the group’s taste through the speakers.
We’ve been all over this trend like white on rice, but Blicko — even though it’s nowhere near the first app to crowdsource music selection in physical location — has a number of things going for it, in addition to its country of origin. For starters, there’s where the music can come from, thanks to API integration with three top-notch music services: Spotify (which must be running on the desktop), YouTube, and SoundCloud. The app can also play music from the main computer’s local library, if it has the Windows-only Tuner application installed.
Station creators (invite required at this point) can choose to set up any of four station types on Blicko (direct link):
- Private (home or office)
- Public (bar, cafe, restuarant, club, etc.)
- Event (a one-time station for music festivals or specific club nights)
- Radio (accessible from anywhere on the internet)
There’s no need to install a special app in order to vote on a Blicko station; all you have to do is point your device’s browser towards blicko.com/stationname. For example, our station is at blicko.com/evolverfm (you can vote and suggest songs there; to listen, you would go here.
But what about the money? What about the money?
“Our business plan is to sell a complete music solution with jukebox features as a subscription to establishments such as cafés, bars, restaurants and other similar venues,” explained Andreas Andrén, co-founder and developer of Blicko, a three-person company. “We are currently looking for a music library license which we then in turn can offer to our upcoming customers. However, we are also launching a free model to use at home for parties and events and this is where Spotify, YouTube and SoundCloud comes in. At the same time we are always looking at other business models and we are also investigating the possibilities for this kind of service with radio and the up and coming e-sport world.”
Configuration options abound in Blicko, even though it’s simple enough for the average user to work with. If we were to list them all, this review would be so long that you wouldn’t read it. Suffice it to say that you can do just about anything you might imagine with the station: listen from mobile devices (i.e. if you’re not located at the main venue); tag your station with a location so people can listen to it if they’re close; charge users to skip songs to the top of the queue; vote songs up or down; control the maximum length of songs that users can suggest; add custom voice greetings; “Shout” out to all your listeners; or switch to a television mode so that anyone in the venue can hop on and start suggesting songs and voting:
Although we hit a few hiccups (figuring out how to add local files; having one song cut off halfway through and another start a bit late; and not being able to make the whole list simply repeat, instead of just one song at a time), Blicko rules, so far as we can tell, and we think we’ve seen every crowdsourced jukebox app there is. It worked just fine on our computer and using the iOS browser. As such, it’s our latest editor's choice app, even though the service is currently in a free, private beta. Anyone can currently listen to and vote on stations like ours — or they can request a preview code to set up their own stations.
In other words, the Swedes have done it again.