I’ve been to dozens of music hackathons and have seen many of hundreds of hacks demoed at those events. I’ve seen all sorts of hacks – music remixing apps, music discovery apps, quirky music story telling apps and so on. Some hacks seem to get re-hacked fairly frequently at a Music Hack Day. You can always count on seeing an app that plots an artist tour on a map, or an app that shows pictures of the artist while you listen to their music. But there’s one app that seems to get re-hacked over and over again. That’s the YAPPA – Yet Another Party Playlisting App. It seems that at every Music Hack Day we see two, three or more versions of this app. Usually with some variations, but the core functionality is that it’s an app that controls the playlist to a party, where the people who come to the party can queue up songs, often via text message (thanks Twilio). The YAPPA will sort out the songs based on some fairness algorithm, perhaps allowing guests to vote on songs to make sure that everyone gets to hear music that they like, and so no one gets to hog the play queue. Sometimes the app shows some stats about the music at the party (i.e. how energetic, danceable or hottt the music was).
Why do we see so much YAPPA at a music hackathon? It’s not like there’s a shortage of commercial apps that do the job. I suspect its because there’s no category killer yet. No one goes and builds a Pandora clone at a Music Hack Day. That’s because Pandora has that category of apps locked down. But there’s no dominate YAPPA out there yet. Most folks who come to Music Hack Days probably have never heard of any of the commercial YAPPAs and are unaware of the great body of YAPPA hacks that have built at Music Hack Days in the last 5 years. There’s a great YAPPA-shaped hole in the universe that needs to be filled. Until it is unequivocally filled by some awesome party playlister , hackers will continue to try to toss their shovelfuls of YAPPA dirt into the hole.