We’ve been digging the Soundrop Spotify app since it launched last year, allowing Spotify users to create or join listening rooms where they can listen to the same song at the same time with their friends.
Yes, Turntable.fm popularized this concept, and that app remains the favorite of many, but Turntable.fm hardly has a monopoly on creation of virtual rooms where friends and likeminded strangers can gather to listen. Turntable added a free mobile version that lets you bring these rooms around on your iPhone in September. Now Soundrop — which MTV calls “a kind of grownup version of Turntable.fm” — has followed suit with an iOS version of its own.
Before we get into the details, consider for a brief moment how ridiculously amazing all of these apps are. After years of isolating music fans into their own cocoons, music apps are uniting them to listen at the same time, regardless of where they are, and chat about what they’re hearing. Even more ridiculous: We can now carry these listening parties around in our pockets, less than a year after they appeared on the desktop.
The major sticking point with Soundrop (see our interview with its CEO) is that, as with other Spotify-powered mobile apps, you have to pay $10 per month for a Spotify Premium account in order to use it, whereas Turntable.fm is free on both the web and mobile. But if you do subscribe to Spotify, Soundrop is worth a try. You have nothing to lose, for starters, and it’s a fun new way to listen to Spotify, especially if you have real-life friends who also use it.
Soundrop.fm requires not only a Spotify Premium account, but also a Facebook account, which is required to log in. Once you’re in the app, you’ll see a bunch of rooms listed there by genre, starting with those created by your Facebook friends.
Hopefully, your friends are among the 200K-plus people using Soundrop on the regular and at least one of them has created a room, because A) You can’t create your own room with the iOS version the way you can with the desktop version, and B) the only other way to find a room is by genre, although at least the rooms list what’s playing upfront.
Regardless of which room you enter, you can vote up the songs in the queue to affect what plays next and request songs from Spotify’s 16-million-plus-track catalog. And although Soundrop lacks a built-in AirPlay feature, we’re playing it over our sound system just fine thanks to this workaround.
Crucially, you can “star” any song as it played, to make it a favorite in your general Spotify app. This makes Soundrop.fm a handy discovery tool, in addition to just an amusing way to listen along with other people. You can invite your Facebook, Twitter, email, or SMS friends to join a room with a couple of taps, but they too will need to subscribe to Spotify Premium in order to join. And you can chat with everyone else in the room, as one should expect from a group-listening app.
Once again, in case you missed it before, this app lets you carry around listening rooms containing other people and their music. It’s a major shift. I think we’re not alone now.