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How The Playlist Network is bringing better music to the masses

A new service lets people anonymously share their Spotify and iTunes music with their favourite bars, cafes and shops. Will it be music to business' ears, or out of tune with today's trends?

The struggle is real: you like EDM, or maybe some hard trance. And we're not talking about the mainstream hard trance; no, we're talking about the stuff so chest-burstingly brutal you'll only ever hear it in the most underground of underground Berlin clubs (here's looking at you, Insomnia, or that weird warren of back alleys around Urban Spree and Suicide Circus). Or maybe you're sick of only being able to sing along to Lady Gaga's killer Tony Bennett duets in the shower, or just really never, ever, want to hear The Rolling Stones or Boston ever again.

Congratulations: you're in luck.

Helping businesses engage with their customers through music is the goal behind a new service launched by The Playlist Network.

Alright, stay with us here. The truth is, there are about 5,716,328 other services doing basically the exact same thing. So what makes this so special?

The Playlist Network for Brands lets customers anonymously share music data with the bars, cafes and shops they frequent, helping the venue owner to make sure they are playing the right music for their customers.

Translation: you tell people what kind of music you like, and businesses play your favourite music to encourage you to buy stuff. Sounds pretty simple.

With 60 million songs in the database, the system gives venue owners complete control over the music with filters such as genre, release date, and the beats per minute of music they want to be played. An algorithm then finds the perfect songs that fit these filters, as listened to by users of The Playlist Network’s free consumer app. The system mixes the songs from slowest to rowdiest in a way that blends each song smoothly into the next – think an artificial intelligence DJ.

Developed in New Zealand, The Playlist Network app now has users in over 90 countries around the world and was designed to solve a simple problem: how to transport your playlists from one streaming service to another.

Company founder Anthony Gardiner says he swapped from one provider to another and was gutted to lose all his playlists in the move. “So I got together with some friends and we built this free app to solve that problem,” he says. “Once we had built the database, we saw lots of other uses for it.”

The Playlist Network app helps listeners build a perfect “Party Mode” playlist. When a user selects a group of friends and clicks “Let’s Go,” the app looks at what songs everyone has in common and builds a playlist based on common tastes.

Says Gardiner: “The algorithm behind that took a few years of testing, but it is now pretty good at keeping everyone happy during a four-hour mix.”

A beefed-up version of this Party Mode algorithm drives the Playlist Network for Brands and helps shops and hospitality venues make sure they are playing music that their customers and staff love.

“We have built a pretty cool engine that recommends playlists for venues, based on what their Facebook fans and target demographic have been listening to, filtered through the venue’s selected requirements,” says Gardiner.

He adds all the data is anonymised so there’s no risk to users’ privacy when they share their information. “Because we have users all around the world, we can customise the music based on data from users in New York, Paris, Hokitika… wherever we have users. And because it is free for personal use, we are getting more users all the time.”

The level of anonymous data collected means the custom playlists can be perfectly tailored to any brand, location, or venue anywhere in the world. “Whoever is running the system for the venue has complete control, can veto any song simply by unticking it, and can then export the playlist via a download into whatever system they use to play music in store. The venue owner can even export it directly to Spotify or YouTube for testing.”

The subscription service is a “fraction of the cost” of most other services, and is completely driven by customer data, all while giving the venue owner complete control over their music in a way which only takes a few minutes each week.

Each new venue gets a one-week free trial, during which time they can make as many playlists as they want, and keep those playlists even if they cancel their subscription.

“We think our service is better, cheaper, more accurate, and easier to use than anything out there,” says Gardiner. “We are happy to put our money where our mouth is and let everyone try it for free.”