Ever find yourself sitting at bar with friends when an unfortunate Nickelback or Creed song comes on the stereo, and you wish nothing more than for that song to go far, far away and be replaced with Talking Heads, Warren Zevon or a local indie artist? Well, now you can with the social jukebox app Roqbot.
Roqbot lets users crowdsource music in participating venues by adding songs to the music queue — with the option to down-vote and up-vote songs that others select. In other words, Roqbot allows you to be the DJ in a public setting.
The app is simple: Log into the free app and search for participating venues; once you’re at the venue, scroll through the thousands of songs ranging from Top 40 to local indie and pop, rock and soul classics; add a musical selection to the queue; view what drink or food specials the establishment is offering through the app; smile from ear-to-ear when you hear your song come on over the stereo.
Though Roqbot is based out of San Francisco, Austin is currently the company's most popular city, with venues The Blind Pig, J. Black’s, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Bacon, Corner Bar and Stompin Grounds featuring the service. Co-founder Garrett Dodge feels that the happy marriage between Roqbot and Austin lies in city’s “great intersection of music, tech and nightlife.”
The jukebox app made their debut at SXSW 2011 where they won grand prize at the SXSW Music Accelerator competition and was named Best Music Tech Company; they have since expanded to Dallas and Houston area where they have taken off.
For Dodge and co-founder Ketu Patel, Roqbot was born in a bar from the desire to hear better music without ditching their friends to go find it elsewhere. “A jukebox app was a perfect way to do that,” Dodge says. “Later we realized that Roqbot could make the music at any business better, not just bars.”
Roqbot doesn’t just serve the listeners, it also eliminates music licensing concerns for business owners. If you don’t think that playing an iPod playlist or Pandora in your establishment is a concern, think again.
In 2011 BMI sued a well-known Austin restaurant, Botticelli's, for playing unlicensed Paul Simon songs and allegedly ignoring the music rights organization’s calls. But regardless of lawsuits, playing licensed music helps to financially support the local musicians that Roqbot features, a goal that the company takes seriously.
"Roqbot loves to support local artists," Dodge says. "One of the most popular songs at our Austin locations is 'The Tale of You & Me' by [local artist] Wild Child. Not only does each play [on Roqbot] support artists through the royalties, the app also lets new fans discover the artist and purchase the tracks through iTunes or the Google Play store."
Be on the lookout for Roqbot at SXSW 2013, and check out the website.