NOISE GATE: How to create an awesome office jukebox in five easy steps

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noisegate.jpgIf you work in an office, then how does the music work? Is it a tinny radio in the corner blaring out Radio 1? If so, I feel sorry for you, and I suggest you take control.

We moved offices over Christmas, and switched from a benevolent musical dictatorship run by Stuart from My Chemical Toilet to a much more democratic approach using communal playlists in Spotify. It’s very simple, and all you’ll need is some speakers, as well as someone volunteering to take charge. Click over the jump to find out how.

STEP ONE: The Set Up
Right, first you’ll need Spotify. Follow the directions in this post to get yourself an account, wherever you are in the world. Hook up the speakers to your PC (with a long lead, if necessary), point them in the vague direction of the rest of the office, and you can rickroll anyone with the greatest of ease.

STEP TWO: Stop, Collaborate and Listen
But that’s not a jukebox. A jukebox should take requests from everyone else. Spotify can do that – it’s called a ‘collaborative playlist’. Make a short playlist of some songs you like and start it playing. Now right-click on the playlist and select “Collaborative Playlist” – it should turn green with a little circle by the musical note.

STEP THREE: Spread Your Love
Right-click the playlist again, and select ‘copy HTTP link’, then bung it in an email to the whole office, along with some basic instructions on how to download Spotify. Ask people to open the HTTP link you’ve sent them, once Spotify is installed, and they should be able to see, and change the playlist from their computer. Congratulations! The system is set up.

STEP FOUR: Rules and Regulations
It’s probably not worth telling people they can delete songs, or they will. That said, they’ll find out sooner rather than later, so if someone’s being a dick and deleting all the good stuff, then embarrass them into submission. Also, because there’s no way of tracking who added what, there’s always the risk of witchhunts as to who added “Who Let the Dogs Out” to the list. Our rule? If no-one owns up to adding a song, it’s allowed to be skipped.

STEP FIVE: Scrobble
Lastly, set yourself up a Last.fm account and set up Spotify to scrobble all the tracks there. Here’s ours. Why? Three reasons. Firstly, you can avoid the nagging question of “What’s this?” or “What did you play half an hour ago” by directing people to the profile page.

Secondly, you can calculate stats on what you play most, which might also solve “we play too much boring indie!” arguments. Lastly, if Spotify is ever down for whatever reason, you can just play your recommendations or your top tracks on Last.fm instead.

A Few Conclusions
So there you have it. One office jukebox. Limitations? If you end up with a dodgy internet connection, the drop-outs in the sound can be annoying. The ads can be a bit of a pain, too, though upgrading to premium, or using a keyboard with a mute button solves most issues. Lastly, it’d be nice to be able to fall back to “random” if no-one’s queued anything specific, rather than the music just stopping.

Oh, and I’d recommend you don’t let the link to the playlist slip outside the office walls, or you’ll end up with random people assailing you with Babylon Zoo from a safe distance.

Anything you’d like to add? Encountered any trouble? Got a better system? I’m very open to feedback. Drop me a line in the comments. In the meantime, I recommend checking out a British band called Kyte. Shoegaze-y niceness.

Spotify and Last.fm

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Duncan Geere

4 comments

  • As the ousted dictator it has been interesting to see this at work. Like you say, it’s a shame you have to stay on top of it to ensure the music doesn’t just stop.

    Also I quite often find the collaborative playlist fails to update on my machine, which means I am left with NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER from my corner of the office. Terrifying. I’ve mailed Spotify about this bug.

    It is a shame it seems to drop out now and again as well, but I’ll give them the benfit of the doubt and assume that as they’re becoming more popular they’ll sort this out. It might be my imagination, but I think this stopped happening over xmas when there were no ads…

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