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How many people remember the craze that was turntable.fm? The site went viral around 2010 as a place for music fans to gather in a virtual music venue and listen to music together. Every person had a virtual avatar, and there was always a DJ at the front of the room that was in charge of the music being played. It was like a concert on your computer, happening 24/7.
The site went viral for a reason, as users found it enjoyable to have a place to go and hang with like-minded music fans, as well as be exposed to new, interesting music. The problem for the company was the music industry wasn’t keen on the fact that the music being played was unlicensed. There was a small library of songs that users could play from, but the site also allowed users to upload their own MP3 files for playback. As a result, the artists, labels, and songwriters were not being compensated for playback, and the industry moved to shut down the service.
A lot has changed since 2010, including the evolution of streaming platforms and the number of users that participate. Spotify now has a large enough audience that building an app on top of the platform guarantees that you have an audience of more than 100 million people. Not to mention, more and more music is available on the platform. Back in 2010, there were tons of unlicensed remixes that weren’t available anywhere else. In 2018, that is the case less and less often. Companies like Dubset are working with labels and rightsholders to allow more of these unofficial remixes to end up on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
Which is all to say, the timing is ripe for JQBX (JU·KE·BOX) to come and re-create this experience. JQBX is a new music app that lets you listen to music in sync with groups across the globe. It’s available on iOS, Android, macOS, and as a web app at jqbx.fm. The app works by showing the user a list of user-created public and private rooms, with each one hosting one or more DJs spinning some tracks. Users can search, save, and create their own public or password-protected rooms and can “be a DJ” when they join a room.
Each room has a chatroom where users can interact and use a quick thumbs up/thumbs down (“dope/nope”) rating system for each song. They can save songs played by other DJs to a new Spotify playlist for later listening and see a room’s track history (which can be exported). Users can volunteer to become DJs, and if there’s more than one DJ, JQBX will rotate between users, playing one song at a time from their playlist.
The first thing we noticed while using it is how much music we’ve been missing out on. The level of discovery here is incredible. This service could really catch on this time around as a social music listening experience is definitely lacking from the marketplace right now. Who knows, maybe your next favorite DJ will be discovered on JQBX.