Yes, you’ll like the music: The Smart Party system can read you like a playlist

It’s tough to be a host. Will your guests like the snacks? Is there enough room to mingle, and proper ambiance to encourage conversation? And what about the music?

This is no idle concern. In the days of special events that support your brand, your role as marketing technologist suddenly makes you responsible for enhancing the proceedings with the proper tunes. And musical tastes vary widely!

Luckily, UCLA computer scientists have been on the task, and they’ve developed the Smart Party system. It polls the musical preferences of your guests by reading the playlists in their WiFi-enabled music devices.

As excerpted below, a recent NewScientist item (subscription required), reports that this novel approach to “reading your audience” works by getting inside your guests’ purses and pockets:

The [system] takes a poll of titles to work out the most popular genre and can also copy and play tracks from each device. It can then play music from the most popular overall music genre or tracks supplied by each party-goer in turn.

Pretty cool stuff, although the article goes on to mention the obvious: digital rights management (DRM) may make this system a violation of copyrights.

But I’m not as impressed with this innovation as with the direction that today’s innovators are taking. Before in this blog, I’ve posited that more than anything, portable marketing is about place. You’ll succeed as a marketer by enhancing experiences in a physical location at a particular time.

News of the Smart Party system suggests that a lot of others are focusing their imaginations on making a place-based experience more personal, and ultimately more memorable.

3 thoughts on “Yes, you’ll like the music: The Smart Party system can read you like a playlist”

  1. Of course this requires that your party attendees not only have wi-fi enabled mp3 players (most ipods aren’t), but also are bringing them along to a party as well as have them turned on and able to be scanned (which could be a security concern for many folks, especially as mp3 players increasingly become more PDA-like (iphone, ipod touch, etc)).

    Obviously the technological hurdle (wifi mp3 players) will be overcome with time, and perhaps people will learn to bring their music players with them as well. DRM may also improve with time, though that is a much larger hurdle.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, the attendees have to be properly equipped and have their systems turned on to “opt-in” to this polling. It’s a cool idea that is better in theory than in practice … but I love the direction this innovation is taking. It’s thinking about using technology to help individuals have a shared experience. And a brand can be the “DJ” (or whatever) who makes this event magic happen.

  3. Perhaps tapping into various social music networks (last.fm ilike, even facebook and myspace) of the attendees would be a more feasible way of gathering people’s musical tastes? Using these networks to invite folks to an event would also be beneficial.

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