AUSTIN, TEXAS – Picture, if you will, a familiar situation at a house party: You get there, and the music is absolutely awful. The simple fact is that you can never program a playlist that will please your entire group of friends, so why not let them program it themselves? DJ-51 is a new music app that leverages the musical tastes of everyone present to create playlists uniquely suited to anyone within earshot.
I went hands-on with DJ-51 at SXSW 2015, and after years of dealing with shortcomings in similar DJ-sharing apps like the defunct Turntable.fm and plug.dj, I thought the new program looks promising. Not only can you pick your own songs, but DJ-51 will learn the group's overall musical tastes to provide the best playlist.
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Here's how it works: A host sets up a DJ-51 room and chooses a general "mood," which can range from pop to dance to classical. (The participants are on their honor to try to match the mood.) From there, each member of the room uses his or her own mobile device to sync a Spotify playlist. Each participant gets added to a central honeycomb design, and the DJ-51 app shuffles through the music.
When DJ-51 discovers that multiple users have picked the same song, it will notify both of them and prioritize similar songs in the queue. This ensures that while everyone will get a chance to play their favorite music, the prevailing tastes in the room win out with more music catering to their preferences.
Because DJ-51 is location-based, it only works for specific social gatherings. Your room disappears when the last person has left the party. While this prevents you from making a playlist with distant friends, it also means that making a new room when an event starts is incredibly simple.
DJ-51 is available for free on both iOS and Android. In the future, the app's developer hopes to expand to leverage music services beyond Spotify.
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