When you walk into a bar, restaurant, or other venue with Rockbot, the virtual jukebox can now add one of your favorite songs to the playlist without any effort on your part.
Backed by Universal Music Group, Google Ventures, and others, Rockbot actually got its start at San Francisco’s Bar Basic, one of the go-to hangout spots for TechCrunch’s SF team. The startup has already been trying to make the jukebox experience more fun and social, letting people enter songs from their phone, vote on those songs, and check in to a location.
The new Anthem feature works through beacons that Rockbot is distributing to its customers. So if you have the Rockbot app installed on your phone, and if you’ve given it access to Bluetooth, it can tell when you’ve entered a venue. When that happens, it’ll add a song to the queue based on your preferences.
Co-founder and CEO Garrett Dodge said it’s quite not as simple as just letting you choose the song, because different venues might have different needs — a coffee shop, for example, might not want to add loud, angry punk rock on a quiet afternoon. So it’s about finding the overlap between your taste and what’s appropriate for the location.
Granted, it’s not like adding a song requires all that much effort anyway, but there’s something cool about the idea of getting a text message letting you know you’ve already got something in the lineup. And hey, the automatic choice could save you some of the trouble of agonizing over your song choice or arguing about it with your friends — which sounds dumb, but I’ve totally seen it happen.
“There’s a lot of talk about beacons, but it’s mostly been marketers trying to bring you to the toothpaste aisle,” Dodge said. “It’s a lot cooler to have it do something exciting for you.”
He added that Rockbot has already shipped out around 400 beacons and made Anthem available in most of the company’s locations in San Francisco. (It’s also being used for the soundtrack at the Rockbot office.)
Sadly, I haven’t been able to try Anthem out myself, since I live in NYC. However, it seems that the feature is leading to a significant increase in app usage — Rockbot says that based on early adoption, Anthem has resulted in an average increase in check-ins of 41 percent per location, a 22 percent increase in song requests, and an average of 27 minutes of app usage. At the Lucky Strike in San Francisco, it actually resulted in a 101 percent increase in song votes.
Update: It looks like I misunderstood Dodge’s comments about availability. The company says this feature is actually live in locations across the country (25 states as I write this on February 19), including chains like JetBlue, Caesar’s Entertainment, and Gap.