Mobile

Gap pilots in-store DJ system, lets customers pick and play music

Hey shopper: If you’ve got a problem with that Lady Gaga track playing overhead, why don’t you just whip out your iPhone or Android device and change it? That’s an option one Bay Area Gap store is giving its customers this holiday season.

The Gap has partnered with Berkeley-based startup Roqbot to pilot a new in-store music service at its Chestnut Street location in San Francisco. The store is now streaming music from the upstart’s catalog of more than six million tracks, and giving its customers the ability to select and queue up the songs heard overhead via Roqbot’s social DJ application.

Roqbot started as a jukebox replacement for bars, co-founder Garrett Dodge said, but the six-person company has recently expanded to other types of businesses, including barber shops and gyms. The operation remains small, with just several thousand users and roughly 15 locations in San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles and New York using its localized mobile and social alternative to the jukebox.

A Gap shopper can use the the Roqbot iPhone or Android application to check in to the location (and view her avatar on one of three in-store big screens), browse the store’s music catalog, play tracks of her choosing and vote on the selections played by other users. The application also hooks into Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare for fast and easy social sharing.

“They were looking for a better way to engage their customers around music,” Dodge told VentureBeat of the Gap’s interest in the startup’s social jukebox.

The pilot program started last week and will run through early 2012. If successful, you could soon find a similar setup in your neighborhood Gap store — and at other retail locations.

The young company now has eyes for the retail space. It has launched, in partnership with Cisco, a version of its service tailored specifically for retailers, aptly named Roqbot for Retail. The package deal comes with in-store digital displays and media players, and lets retailers customize their music catalog.

Roqbot has raised a small undisclosed sum of seed financing and is working on raising a larger round, Dodge said.

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