Making music social is a feat many have tried accomplishing but no one has quite nailed it. Spotify and Facebook came pretty close when they teamed up to share what Spotify users were listening to on their Facebook profiles. This worked for a little while, but the prominence of music on Facebook has since diminished, signaling mediocre results to the experiment. So what's next? Craaave is a free app for iPhone yearning to answer that question. It's built entirely around the concept that music can and should be social.
The UI of Craaave is ever so slightly reminiscent of Foursquare before its redesign. Much like a floating check-in button, a pink, hungry PacMan-esque icon at the bottom of the app is seemingly begging for someone to tap it. If you give in to its wishes, you are given two very distinct options. The first is "Tap to Listen" and the second is "Type to Search."
Tapping to listen requires access to your iPhone's microphone so Craaave can enter what's essentially a Shazam mode -- that is, it'll listen to surrounding sounds and identify the song playing. It's not as fast as Shazam, but in my tests it was repeatedly accurate. If you aren't listening to music at the moment, start typing any song, artist or genre and Craaave will feed you results as you type.
The app pulls music from a variety of services and your experience depends on which ones you use. Upon signing up, you're asked to link these to your account. The list of currently supported services include Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, SoundCloud and your iTunes library which Craaave includes by default. Even if you choose not to link anything else, the app also searches through SoundCloud's public database.
Now here's where the social part kicks in. When you find or identify a song, you tap to send it to one or multiple friends on Craaave, optionally including a brief message up to 40 characters in length. They receive it in their inbox, just like you would if they send you a song. From there, they can play the song, press and hold it to save it to a particular service or buy it on iTunes.
What's even more impressive is that you, as a sender, get to see this take place. If you switch to your Outbox view at the top, the app lists the songs you sent along with whether your friends decided to save it or not. This is a fantastic way to indirectly determine whether your friends have similar music tastes.
The only potential downside I see to Craaave lies actually within its users. A group of people can still be friends while each person prefers a different genre of music. It takes either a friend group of similar or at least eclectic music tastes for this app to really shine its brightest.
Luckily, music in general is something we all have in common. It's almost human nature for each person to feel a connection with some rhythm. This app has the potential to bring a lot of people together by taking the powerful experience of music and planting it in its own social network. Free and executed well enough, Craaave is available in the App Store.