The Gap and Roqbot Let Shoppers Decide Store Soundtrack

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In a first for fashion retail, popular clothier the Gap has teamed with streaming music startup Roqbot to let users decide on their smartphones which music plays over store loudspeakers.

Visitors to the chain’s Chestnut Street location in San Francisco, which has access to Roqbot’s catalogue of six million songs, can now use their iPhone or Android handsets to select and choose upcoming tunes. Crowdsourced suggestions, powered by a custom music system, actually affect the direction of the location’s soundtrack.

Shoppers who check in with the Roqbot app may actively parse the store’s featured pre-approved music selections, pick favorite tracks and vote on others’ acoustic choices, thereby impacting currently queued selections. Curiously, time of day and individual likes may also color the mood, with the software capable of passively referencing your Last.fm listening habits, Facebook favorites, mobile device’s music collection and top Pandora picks. Additionally, in-store displays have been installed to provide users with a sneak peek at currently playing selections and get a sense of how well tracks are trending.

Part of a pilot program that will run through the holidays and includes integrated support for Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, the service could expand to future locations and retailers in 2012 if it proves successful on Chestnut Street. As Roqbot’s initial foray into the fashion realm (following previous stints providing music to salons and gyms), it may also herald the shape of in-store experiences to come. As this comes on the heels of online radio service Pandora’s recent expansion into streaming music for businesses, the experiment points to a trend of more social, interactive and high-tech advancements at chain retail. Fast forward three years, and a trip to the mall may require you to agonize between the Black Keys or the Ting Tings on top of which shirt or blouse best goes with that new pair of slacks.

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