We were mightily impressed with the music apps created at Music Hack Day Sydney — the first such hackathon ever to be held in the southwestern hemisphere. The latest to float our boat: Ivy, a web app that lets friends or coworkers add songs to a group playlist that they can all hear at the same time, regardless of location.
In the same way that the popular InstaPaper app lets you save articles you want to read for later by clicking a bookmarklet in your browser’s toolbar, Ivy lets you do the same with YouTube music pages, blog posts, and other places music is found. All of that music gets added to your Ivy web player, which runs on the Rdio app platform. If you subscribe to that for $5/month, you get full tracks; otherwise it’s 30-second samples.
In addition to bookmarking music to add it to the playlist (a feature that is not currently working, as of Tuesday), Ivy lets you enter a song manually, if that’s easier (which is working today). Another nice touch: It generates a short URL you can give to your friends, allowing them to contribute and listen to the same playlist. This makes Ivy not only a fine tool for discovering music to listen to later yourself, but for enabling friends and coworkers manage a group listening experience by sharing a simple URL, even if they won’t get much out of it without Rdio accounts.
We weren’t alone in our positive impression of Ivy; the other judges at Music Hack Day Sydney agreed, and so the Ivy team took home the Best Overall Hack at Music Hack Day Sydney: $2,000. Not only that, but the team plans to develop Ivy further, beyond last weekend’s hack day festivities.
To use Ivy, go to growivy.me and can drag bookmarklet in your browser toolbar, or hit the plus sign and search for songs manually. (As of today, only the latter works, but the bookmarklet should go online again soon.)
We interrupted three developers from the team as they worked on their eventually-prize-winning winning app on Saturday night.
“When people send you a link to hear a song, it’s always a YouTube link these days,” said Ben Taylor, adding that the team is considering adding SoundCloud and other services as additional music sources for Ivy.
Domenic Smith said their creation is designed for people who listen to music all day and don’t want to interrupt their flow just to check out every song that comes their way.
“The idea is that you’re probably already listening to music, so you might not want to interrupt that by listening to the track that you’ve discovered,” said Smith. “This gives you a way to add it to a playlist pretty quickly, without having to go out of your web browser.”
Daniel Tracy joined their team during Music Hack Day Sydney because his idea, to create an app to help office workers contribute to one playlist for the workplace, meshed well with Taylor’s and Smith’s concept for a “listen later” bookmarklet a la Instapaper. Now, Ivy can do both.
“My idea was more an idea for a communal playlist for people who work in the same office,” said Tracy. “But it’s very hard to do because everyone’s got their own workstation, speakers, and headphones. The idea was to have a centralized queue that everyone could add to that would just play everyone’s music. Now, it can handle a few other things, like friends who are not in the same office can share the same playlist.”
Yes, Ivy is fairly impressive, especially considering that it was conceived and built in a single caffeine-fueled weekend, but there’s more to come from Sydney Music Hack Day. I’ll continue our coverage of all the neat stuff I saw there, now that I’ve finished the round-the-world flight back to New York and caught up on some sleep, so stay tuned.
Read Evolver.fm’s full coverage of Music Hack Day Sydney.