February 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Anthm Can Crowdsource the Jukebox at Your Next Party (Updated)

I've already voted on this one.

Note: Apple has removed this app from Apple iTunes, apparently at the request of the developer of an app called Anthem.

Okay, crowdsourced party music is officially a trend on the app scene, if not at many actual parties… yet.

Anthm is the latest one we’ve seen that lets partygoers decide what to play next, as a group. Like a hyper-local Jelli Radio, a democratized, real-world version of Turntable.fm, or maybe a more precise version of CrowdJuke, these apps allow people to submit songs to a queue at a party, with other attendees voting each song up or down to determine what plays next (see also: Roqbot).

The Anthm iOS app is free, and partygoers don’t need to pay anything to use it. However, the host of the party (or whoever decides to plug their iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPod into the party’s sound system) needs to pay for Rdio, the mobile version of which costs $10 per month. Otherwise, the app just plays 30-second samples.

On the upside, this means the app includes all 12-million-plus songs on Rdio, the music service founded by some of the same people who brought you Skype. People at the party will be able to play just about whatever song occurs to them — or, if they don’t the app automatically populates the queue with music along the same lines of whatever you’ve been playing.

Here's where you can join parties to start making requests.

Of course, a real-world social music app like this doesn’t have to be consigned to nightlife; we can also picture it being used in bars, restaurants, hair salons, and other venues. However, Rdio’s breadth might be somewhat of a bug, as well as a feature. A restaurant or even a party host for that matter might prefer to restrict the evening’s musical choices to just a specific subset of music, so that all of the music is thematically similar (and to avoid the inevitable rickrolls and “Free Bird” requests). For example, it would be nice if Anthm let you target a specific playlist within your Rdio account.

I'm trying to request "Life Just Bounces" by The Fall; luckily, Anthm's use of the Rdio catalog means I have a few versions to choose from.

That said, it is nice to have all of that music to choose from, and the app does offer a degree of control in the form of a password, which you could give only to those attendees with the appropriate taste in music and turn this democratization of social music into more of a cool-kid oligarchy (speaking of which, they have to have iPhones, too). Finally, the host can skip any currently-playing song, should it be deemed lame. Anyone who likes the currently-playing song can tweet it from within the app.

Overall, we found Anthm to be just simple enough, with an included video tutorial and three easily-manageable screens — one for signing in to parties, another one for voting on songs in the queue, and a third for requesting songs. The next time we throw a party, we solemnly pledge to give it a try in a real-world scenario; it performed well enough during our solo daytime testing though.