There was once a time where a night well spent was one crowded around a jukebox.
Now, fast forward to 2016 and into your go-to public spaces. A virtual jukebox is making what its creators are calling a revolutionary comeback.
Nightlife Music, a Brisbane-based company specialising in background music and commercial music licensing, has partnered with Spotify to launch an app that allows consumers to select and listen to their favourite songs in public spaces.
We are creating communities of people who can stand around and share their music in social spaces that go beyond their personal space.
Called 'crowdDJ', it is set to change the way music is consumed in entertainment, fitness and retail venues across Australia.
Nightlife is one of the country's top providers of curated playlists in more than 5,000 venues across Australia -- from the Star and Crown casinos to gym chains operated by Snap, Virgin and Fitness Anytime.
For Managing Director Mark Brownlee, the launch has been a long time coming.
People are incredibly passionate about their music, but it was starting to become devalued.
"We have been trying to create the perfect soundtrack for people to listen to in these venues for decades. We've gotten quite close, but it has always been a guess. Six or seven years ago, we thought we had to come up with something new," Brownlee said.
"People are incredibly passionate about their music, but it was starting to become devalued."
With the advent of music streaming -- what Brownlee labels the highest source of revenue in the music industry -- that all changed.
"People were going to start to know their music again. We needed a greater way for people to stay connected to their tunes in their own social spaces -- and not just in their homes.
"Spotify is designed around people collecting and curating music. It became the obvious choice and has been the perfect marriage."
With jukebox technology, playlisting and venues at the ready, Nightlife Music developed cloud-based technology to tap into Spotify's live service.
How does it work?
CrowdDJ works like a virtual jukebox.
"We are in the venues. We create a soundtrack for each venue and we have that sitting there at the ready," Brownlee explains. "The app connects you to the venue's system so you can see what is playing and what's coming next."
At a crowdDJ-friendly bar or gym, Spotify users can connect their account to the app and make music selections by tapping into the existing venue playlist or choosing from their own -- only where the two lists overlap.
"The available songs have been curated and are allowed to be played in that venue. People can't play any of their songs -- but they don't mind that," Brownlee said.
"It ends up being a collaborate jukebox through which everyone in the room can participate."
And, if they like what they hear, users can take the playlist home with them.
On being consumer-driven
In its beta phase, the crowdDJ app has already been rolled out in more than 600 of their 5,000 client locations -- with new brands also coming onboard.
According to Brownlee, this comes down to brands realising the capabilities of being consumer-driven.
It's not the song that defines the brand, it's the experience that you have in that brand.
"We have had to flip a lot of our brands on their heads as venues can be particular about their music choices and what they stand for," Brownlee said. "If you let consumers pick their music, you are creating another opportunity to engage with them. And then they'll stay longer.
"Consumers will remember their song when they are sitting in that restaurant or that bar. It's not the song that defines the brand, it's the experience that you have in that brand."
And this extends to the consumer.
"The same desire for these venues to push their brands to consumers is just as strong as that of consumers who love pushing their songs out into their spaces. They don't mind where that space is."
On the power of commercial music
Brownlee envisages crowdDJ pioneering changes in the music industry.
"In Australia (and overseas), the opportunities are huge. There are so many places that are not using a commercial service because they don't have to. This gives them a reason to do that."
Nightlife Music generates royalties through its licensing department and Brownlee says these are set to grow via the app.
"This has been shrinking over the last few years, and we see this as an opportunity to bring more back to the rights holders and the artists within the industry."
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