Hey Mr. DJ
February 9, 2005 7:22 AM   Subscribe

You're hosting a party for lots of people. How do you manage the music to be played? If you decided to allow people to pick and chose their favourite tracks from your large MP3 collection - how would you go about doing it? [more inside..]
posted by ralawrence to Society & Culture (14 answers total)
iTunes' Party Shuffle smart playlist?
posted by kableh at 7:24 AM on February 9, 2005

Response by poster: I've been toying with the idea of a web-based music jukebox. In short, it would have it's own little web server (which you'd have maximised in your browser of choice) that would allow people to browse, in a nice big clean way, your collection and queue up tracks. They wouldn't be able to move songs around, delete them or anything else – we’re talking simple point and click stuff that even the most inebriated individual could do.

Best thing about it would be that if the requests dry up, the system would continue picking random music until someone comes up with some suggestions - to which, the system would play those over it's own selections.

If it were simple to set up and run, would you consider that? Or would you just prefer to give everyone access to iTunes/Media player and let them do it themselves? Alternatively is your music management style more "bring your own cds" or "don't touch the music, let me manage it all"?
posted by ralawrence at 7:25 AM on February 9, 2005

Hey, as long as you're at it, you could make it a web-based music jukebox where people could upload their own music to the server and queue it for the party. A pirate punk rock radio station in Minneapolis operated like that, operated quite well in fact. Until they got shut down. Stupid FCC.
posted by baphomet at 7:28 AM on February 9, 2005

SlimServer (free download Mac/ Linux/ Windows) would probably power a web based system quite well.

But I think iTunes is the best solution - not just because it's reliable, fast and customisable but also because most of us know how to use it.
posted by skylar at 7:35 AM on February 9, 2005

Response by poster: The issues I have with iTunes/Media Player are:

1. Only a few people know how to use them so they're the ones that ultimately dictate the music.
2. You only need one person to accidently use "play" instead of "enqueue" and 40 pending tracks vanish into the air.
3. It's all too easy for someone to annoy half the group by queuing up loads of tracks from one artist.
4. Once the queued tracks have finished there is silence.
5. Sticking random play on often gets you a bunch of genre's that don't go well at a party, for example, classical.

There might be more, but I can't think of them right now.
posted by ralawrence at 7:50 AM on February 9, 2005

RALawrence, I don't feel that many of your complaints fit with the iTunes Party Shuffle function. In response to your comments:

1. I disagree that very few people know how to use iTunes. I'd say that out of all the players out there, iTunes is either the most intuitive or the one people are most familiar with.

2. This doesn't happen in the Party Shuffle function - you can see tracks which played previously as well as upcoming tracks.

3. Again, this doesn't happen in Party Shuffle.

4. iTunes has a crossfade function which eliminates the silence.

5. Party Shuffle allows you to shuffle tracks only from a particular genre, or from a particular playlist. You can create a smart playlist which includes all genres except classical; or you can comment all your favourite party tracks, make a playlist out of the commented tracks, and use that to Party Shuffle from.
posted by skylar at 8:11 AM on February 9, 2005

Response by poster: I'll admit, I know nothing about party shuffle and will definately look into it since it would eliminate the need for me to do any work :)

However point (5) was more to do with when the choice of music ends rather than the gap inbetween tracks. For example, if 10 people queue up 25 songs and then no-one else touches it for the rest of the night, what happens when all those songs have finished playing?
posted by ralawrence at 8:19 AM on February 9, 2005

Party Shuffle automatically enqueues new music from one of your playlists (you decide) as soon as it has less than 15 songs (again, you decide how many) ready to play next.
posted by onalark at 8:23 AM on February 9, 2005

Best answer: The way Party Shuffle works is that there is a continuous loop of tracks, playing either from the main library or from a playlist you specify. So you can give your pals control over a subset of the library containing tracks you've already specified as party-friendly.

They can queue tracks into the playlist, but much more commonly, what they your friends will be doing with Party Shuffle is selecting a number of songs from a scrolling list of possibilities. So they can see 50 upcoming tracks, pick one of them and move that to next in the playlist.

If no-one else touches it for the rest of the night, Party Shuffle will keep playing the random selection in its own sweet way. But if your friends decide to walk up to the computer, they can define what songs play next in the queue.
posted by skylar at 8:26 AM on February 9, 2005

Otto is a web-based, open-source jukebox app that sounds like it works like "Party Shuffle" does -- requests take priority over randomly-chosen tracks, but the music will not stop playing even if there are no requests.

Otto pretty much runs constantly chez mendel.
posted by mendel at 8:49 AM on February 9, 2005

I run my iTunes library on my Tivo (through my stereo). It's a great solution for parties as you can see the track info on the TV as the play. The only downside is that it is a bit of a drag to scroll through hundreds of artists to find specific tracks. The version of Tivo I have doesn't have search function implemented. Mostly, I select a genre and put it on random play.
posted by psmealey at 8:58 AM on February 9, 2005

...and when you're ready to just get some sleep already.
posted by hellbient at 10:56 AM on February 9, 2005

I wrote a little something like what you described for use with ices (an icecast source client), complete with web interface and all. It's a little klunky, but works well enough. If you're interested, either email me or find my website via my profile and poke around (hint: it's a project).

A new, much slicker interface for pretty much the same thing is in the works now, actually.
posted by thebabelfish at 1:39 PM on February 9, 2005

wwwinamp is what we use at work.

at first blush it doesn't appear to meet your requriements, but perhaps you'll find it useful. Anyone who can use a webpage should be able to handle it.
posted by fishfucker at 3:16 PM on February 9, 2005

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