The popular Spotify collaborative listening app Soundrop relaunched with a completely revamped service Thursday, offering Spotify users a much tighter social integration that puts Spotify’s own social integration to shame.
But Soundrop 2.0 is more than just bells and whistles: The app’s underlying platform has been rebuilt entirely, foreshadowing much grander ambitions. “It’s a conceptial change of what Soundrop is,” the company’s CEO Inge Andre Sandvik told me during a Skype chat Wednesday. “Suddenly, we are a music player.”
Soundrop has turned into one of the big breakout hits ever since Spotify launched in-client apps close to a year ago, with users playing a total of 300 million tracks by August and the company scoring a $3 million round of funding earlier this year. Its core idea has remained the same: Users can enter listening rooms based on genres, record labels or even artists, and then influence the music programming of a room by voting for tracks – think Turntable.fm meets Reddit.
Now with profile pages
But the new version offers a whole lot more features: Upcoming songs can be previewed, giving users an option to more carefully select the songs they’re voting on. Each room offers a bunch of contextual information, including lists of top tracks and top influencers as well as a kind of popularity meter that shows not just how many people are listening right now, but how that compares to peak times. And users are now getting their own profile pages that show their favorite rooms as well as other activities.
Users can also quickly see which rooms their friends are in at any given time, and a slide-out sidebar offers quick access to room-specific chats and activity feeds. Speaking of which: A personalized, dedicated activity feed will soon be launched as well, showing users who is voting for the tracks they added to a room’s queue and other relevant information.
I’ve already been a regular user of Soundrop’s previous iteration, but I was impressed when Sandvik showed me a screencast of the new Soundrop during our call: Not only is the UI surprisingly cutting edge for what’s basically a web app within another company’s client.
The social integration is also much more thought-through than Spotify’s own approach. Spotify tends to just scour your Facebook contact list and then dump all their recent activity in its sidebar, leaving you with tons of songs from people whose taste in music was already suspect in high school. “90 percent of what your friends are listening to is not relevant to you,” agreed Sandvik. That’s why Soundrop wants to get users to follow folks with similar tastes – something that’s a bit like Rdio’s approach to social music, but within the Spotify client.
Rebuilt in Erlang
To make this happen in real-time, Soundrop rebuilt its entire service from the ground up in Erlang, a programming language developed by Ericsson specifically with real-time communication in mind.
As a result, Soundrop had to retire its mobile apps. However, Sandvik said that he wants to use the new platform to launch a bunch of additional offerings. One of them will be a web-based platform, which could go beyond Spotify and integrate music from other service providers as well. Sandvik didn’t want to reveal too many details about this upcoming offering, but teased: “We can do pretty amazing stuff on the web.”
To hear more about what’s possible when social meets sound on the web, check out my fireside chat with SoudCloud CEO Alex Ljung at GigaOM’s RoadMap conference, coming up on November 5 in San Francisco.