Friday, March 25, 2011

Roqbot new music platform app for iPod,iPhone or Android - virtual satellite radio digital jukebox

Roqbot is a new social music platform for businesses. We offer a virtual jukebox solution that runs on any internet connected device connected to the sound system. Business owners customize their catalog of music from our 5 million songs. Customers in the venue utilize our smartphone applications do browse the catalog, request music, and vote on the queue. Roqbot is a fully licensed music solution that provides a powerful engagement tool for any type of business. We are officially launching at South by Southwest 2011. Bars, restaurants, and other venues that pay to play music while you enjoy yourself on their premises have a new tool - Roqbot.

Roqbot, which beat over 400 other music apps to win the SXSW Accelerator contest at SXSW last week, pipes music into venues — just like a jukebox, satellite radio, Muzak, or an iPod, but with a few twists. For starters, it plays through “any internet-enabled device” and covers licensing fees so that venues don’t have to worry about getting busted for playing music in a public place without a license.

Co-founder Garrett Dodge says Roqbot isn’t actually competing with jukeboxes, but with iPods. Playing an iPod at a cafe or a bar has its disadvantages, namely that the staff gets tired of listening to the same music day in and day out and that customer requests are never heard. There is also the legal issue of music licensing fees when playing personal music in a public setting.

The Roqbot iPhone app (for iPhone or Android) also lets patrons buy songs jukebox-style, rating them to change the play order or checking the profiles of the people who chose the songs. If they choose to purchase a given song from iTunes, the venue gets a cut of that revenue.

Rather than the dimes, quarters, and now dollars and credit cards gobbled by traditional and digital jukeboxes, Roqbot accepts credits that can be purchased with a credit card or earned when the user performs certain actions, such as confirming their email address, rating songs on a venue’s playlist, adding a profile image, or allowing the app to post their plays to Facebook or Twitter. The credits cost a different amount depending on volume; two credits costs a buck — enough for two songs at the end of the queue or one song at the top — while 25 credits cost $10.

In addition, users can vote on each other’s picks, adding a social dimension to the app, somewhat along the lines of Jelli’s crowdsourced FM radio programming. The system rewards highly-rated DJs with “a badge system based on picking good music that other people in the bar like” and generally increasing their prominence within the system, according to Dodge. (Roqbot, currently at version 0.4, is still a work in progress and the founders are currently seeking funding for further development.)

To make it easier to find personally-compatible music within the service, users can sync their profile, iTunes library, or Facebook favorite bands into the app. Meanwhile, Roqbot-enabled venues can let customers choose between all five million songs available in Roqbot’s catalog — or restrict them to a subset to fit the style of the venue. The system can import the venue’s existing playlists and provide recommendations based on artists that already define a particular venue’s sound.

All of this often has the unintended effect of bringing patrons within a bar closer together, according to Patel, in a reversal of the usual effect of digital music.Roqbot has many clear advantages over the traditional jukebox or a venue-controlled iPod, but it also offers much easier music discovery than internet-connected jukeboxes such as the Ecast jukebox — the first internet-connected jukebox ever installed, because it lets people see what’s playing from the comfort of their barstool, restaurant table, or bowling lane.

Another side effect of this system: It knows with perfect accuracy what it has played, and so can pay artists and their representatives accurately rather than relying on random sampling or other less-reliable methods. As more businesses switch to Roqbot or something like it, the so-called “long tail” artists loved by hundreds or thousands rather than millions of fans should stand a better chance of receiving part of the royalty payments paid by restaurants, bars, and other establishments.

With Roqbot you can check in at a participating venue as well as publish your checkins and music picks to Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook. You can select a song to play using Roqbot credits that you can buy with Amazon, Paypal or your Credit Card through your phone. The app offers you a comprehensive list of popular music to choose from, including some that will please the cranky indie music snob you’ve dragged along. If you’re having trouble deciding what to play you can pick from curated lists like “Highest Rated of all time,” “Most Played of All Time” and yes “Top 80s.”

Participating venues have their own dashboards within the app and aspiring DJs can navigate through “Now Playing” “Next Up” “DJs” and “Specials” homescreens. On the “Next Up” screen, a Digg-like interface allows you to thumb up and thumb down songs, increasing or decreasing people’s DJ ratings with each vote (and it gets heated). Likewise people can vote your picks up or down, which affects your own DJ rating as well as your position in line. For extra Roqbot credits you can set your musical picks to “Priority Pick” which moves them up in the queue.

Roqbot also gives away all the equipment for free to venues, including the entire catalogue of five million fully-licensed songs (one of the co-founders has a background in IP law and one of their advisors used to be the CEO of Sony Music).The Roqbot beta can be downloaded from the iPhone, but can only be used at Bar Basic in San Francisco which I highly suggest if you’re in the area. Dodge plans on launching the alpha for both the Android and iPhone platform in March, offering it for free to people planning parties at SXSW. Roqbot is currently bootstrapped.

Roqbot is gaining momentum in the world! They are one of eight Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator finalists in the music related category. As a finalist, Roqbot will showcase their product March 14th and 15th after officially launching at SXSW. Roqbot allows you to request songs at bars, cafes, and other businesses through your mobile device. Businesses can also access Roqbot’s 5 million song library to play as background music.

The startup is pioneering the use of social music in businesses by integrating input from customers and staff. Listeners are able to vote for upcoming songs and rate pre-made playlists. The app is available for iPhone, Android, the mobile web, and as an application for laptops. While at SXSW, Roqbot will be available for parties and in area bars.

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