He hunches over his iTunes like a dragon on his jewels, relentlessly clicking through his favorite albums, subjecting the entire office to specially curated playlists like "Pump-Up Jamz 4 U!" He's the office DJ, and unless you work in silence or are protected by the sanctuary of headphones, he can ruin the day with his imposed tastes.
Often, we lazily let such tyrants have their way with our ears, too caught up with actually working to contest their musical choices. However, if we looked a little further into the digital music ethos for a solution, we would see that office jamming doesn't have to be a chore—or a battle. It can be a collaborative effort reminiscent of the culture of teamwork that your boss' inspirational posters tout.
Here are four services that put the "I" and "U" back into music:
1. Play My Song
Based on the old-school jukebox model, Play My Song is an iOS app and Web service that makes it easy for users to DJ via their phones.
The premise is this: The main DJ (perhaps the one we spoke of above) uses his iTunes library to create a social music player. If you are the main DJ, download the app to your iOS device (making sure that you have a Wi-Fi or 3G connection). Log into the app and create your location ("Office in the 9th Circle of Hell," or whatever). Select songs from your music library that users can play, and then connect your device to the sound system.
Your office mates can then sign up for Play My Song via the website—or they can download the app—navigate to "Office in the 9th Circle of Hell" and start choosing songs to play. Users can also check out what songs are playing at their offices via the app (or website), which could really come in handy when deciding whether or not to "call in sick."
If you work at a bar, cafe or public venue, you can pay for the premium service, which for $423 per year will allow your patrons to choose music at your place of business. This offering allows you to create scheduled playlists and score premium visibility on the service. The Roxy Theatre in LA is currently using the service.
Music subscription service Rdio was built to be social. In addition to boasting more than 9 million songs that users can listen to on-demand, subscribers can also interact with users in an array of ways. Rdio costs $4.99 per month for desktop service and $9.99 per month for desktop, mobile and supported devices.
While scoring your work day, you have two options for social listening: 1) You can follow other users and check out their playlists and collections—if you're down to DJ that day, simply follow your co-workers and raid their collections. 2) The other, more social option is to create collaborative playlists. After you create a playlist, simply click on the name of the list to enable collaboration, allowing other staff members to add tracks to the melange. You can either allow only people you're following to add tracks or let all of Rdio at it, in case you fancy a wild card.
Spotify, which recently made it to U.S. shores, also adds a social layer to music listening. The service gives you access to more than 15 million songs with three tiers of service:
- Free, which gets you desktop service with a 20-hour per month limit (might not be the best option for offices) and ads.
- $4.99 per month for unlimited listening without ads.
- $9.99 per month for unlimited listening and mobile access and no ads.
Like Rdio, Spotify also has a social component, plugging into your Facebook account and allowing you to see what friends are listening to (and to listen to their tracks as well). You can also follow other Spotify users—not just your Facebook friends.
Also like Rdio, Spotify also collaborative playlisting (just right-click on the name of your playlist for that option), as well as the option to send tracks and albums to other members (and subscribe to their playlists). Spotify is definitely an awesome option if you work in a headphone-only office and want to share tunes with a cube mate.
Summer is here, which can only mean one thing: Friday afternoons are now officially the worst. Luckily, a little startup called Turntable.fm has come on the scene, and it makes being computer-bound when the sun is shining hot on the beachy shores almost bearable.
Turntable.fm is basically a series of chatrooms in which music is played. It's currently U.S.-only and still in closed beta, but if you have one friend on Facebook using the service, then you can get access.
Turntable.fm functions thusly: One user creates a room ("Summer Fridaze") and other users enter in order to DJ. There are five DJ slots, and those users take turns spinning songs (available via MediaNet or their own, personal libraries). The room votes on whether songs are "awesome" or "lame"—so you can brag (or not) about your music taste. There's also a chat module where users can discuss music being played.
While we don't suggest using such a service if you actually want to be productive, Turntable.fm is a great way to unwind with co-workers (especially those who work remotely) at the end of a brutal grind.
Image credit: Nikada