Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.
Picture the scene: You’re at a party or social gathering, and one person (probably the host) has assumed DJ responsibility for the evening – which means their music is top priority. What do you do?
Well, you could elbow them out of the Spotify-control zone and add your own music into the mix. Or you could ask everyone (with an iOS device) to download Crowdcast to their devices to properly democratize proceedings.
How it works
Optimized for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, Crowdcast can be used without creating an account. Now, you can elect to ‘start’ or ‘join’ a crowdcast. To start one, you’ll be prompted to select music from your device – so there’s no Spotify, Rdio or any other kind of streaming integration here, which is a shame.
Once you’ve selected all the music, click ‘done’, and then other users who are connected to the same WiFi network will be able to join the Crowdcast. This is the second downside – it would be great to have 3G/4G compatibility, for those occasions when WiFi isn’t an option – perhaps at a beach party or somewhere else remote.
Now, you can edit the name of the device that’s both created and joined the Crowdcast, but it defaults to your name and the type of device. You can see all activity in a dedicated stream, including tracks that have been ‘tagged’ – which means they’ve been favorited by someone, perhaps to purchase later through iTunes.
Where Crowdcast really comes into its own, however, is with up-voting and down-voting – basically the crowd decides what songs are played next from the playlist. When enough guests ‘downvote’ a song, it automatically skips to the next track. And if you want to exit the playlist altogether, you just go into ‘Settings’ and click ‘Leave Party’.
Guests can also add their own songs to the playlist from their music libraries – only one song upload is free to begin with.
More credits can be purchased, however. For example, unlimited song uploads cost £1.99/$2.99 for seven days.
Crowdcast is well executed for sure, but part of me feels like this would have been a better idea in 2011 or even earlier. Granted, plenty of people do still host music directly on their iPhone or iPad, but there has been a huge shift towards access over ownership in recent years, which is why I think Spotify or Rdio integration would make more sense here. Plus, people can already collaborate on playlists directly through the Spotify app, though of course you are missing features such as crowd-voting.
Other apps out there, such as POW WOW, have adopted a similar approach to Crowdcast but with Spotify used as the music library – it doesn’t have voting though. And then there’s Jukio too, which taps both Spotify and Rdio to allow party-goers to request and vote on playlists – however it hasn’t had much loving in recent months, and seems to have been forgotten about following a forced name-change last year.
Finally, I’m not convinced users will be willing to pay to upload their own music to a shared playlist. People have either already bought their music from iTunes, or they subscribe to a music-streaming service such as Spotify – so why would they pay more just to let everyone else listen to their locally-stored music?
While Crowdcast has potential, it perhaps needs to rethink its approach and be a little more savvy to how people are actually listening to music these days. The jury’s still out on this one.
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