Most online music services have a common problem: it takes too much time and effort to get started and engage with other people. Users usually need to create playlists after registration, look for existing friends using the service or invite new ones, hope that friends really add the songs and bands they like, etc.
If this has been done, sites like Turntable.fm, for example, only work well when a sufficient number of friends are online at the same time and new ones keep joining.
Enter Beatrobo, a new social music community, which tries to simplify online group listening by automating the process and making the experience asynchronous, not real-time. The way it works is that after signing up with your Facebook account, Beatrobo sets up a robot avatar and room, automatically creates a playlist from your FB “likes” and populates the room with avatars representing your FB friends. (In other words, you are never alone and can interact even with friends who haven’t signed up for Beatrobo).
What happens then is that Beatrobo will automatically start playing music – in the form of YouTube videos – endlessly, based on your own playlist and the playlists it pulled from your friends’ Facebook “likes” (on Spotify, for example, you need to actively go listen to friends’ playlists). The robot avatars take turns playing music in the “virtual space”, which you can see below:
Again, one major bullet point is that Beatrobo doesn’t require your friends to be online when you are to make the experience social. Just one example: when you ask for a recommendation for a song from another user (“Do you know a good Christmas song?”), they can choose to take action or not when they get online (your avatar will appear in your friend’s room upon log-in):
Beatrobo CEO Hiroshi Asaeda is likening this experience to social games, which also work asynchronously and make engagement with other people possible whenever users have time. (In that scenario, Turntable.fm would probably be like real-time MMOs such as World of Warcraft).
Beatrobo users can “love” certain songs (users get “love points” in that case), send their robot to other rooms (i.e. to discover new music), comment on songs, customize their avatars to stand out in the group, etc. etc.
What’s interesting is that Beatrobo has created some major buzz on Facebook before launch without major marketing activities, apparently thanks to the cool design of the robots. The site’s Facebook page racked up over 68,000 fans in less than two weeks (by way of comparison: turntable.fm’s Facebook page shows about 30,000 likes currently).
Beatrobo launched today in beta. It’s super-easy to use, but here’s a video showing how the service works: