5 minute hack: how to make real-time collaborative playlists with Spotify and SoundCloud

Be the bastion of musical democracy at your summer shindig...

Flo music

It might be hard to believe, but not everyone thinks you should have total control over the music playlist at your barbecue/camping trip/holiday villa.

We know, your music taste's impeccable, but sometimes you have to allow a more democratic approach (unless you're driving, in which case 'driver picks the music' is non-negotiable).

You can already make collaborative playlists in the Spotify app (by going to Menu > Make Collaborative), but you're restricted to Spotify's library and adding people (particularly strangers) to your playlist can be a faff.

That's where new app Flo Music (£free, iOS) comes in. It's been designed for off-the-cuff collaborative playlists, and lets groups of people build a playlist in real-time from both Spotify Premium and SoundCloud accounts.

Its two modes let you play the music either through everyone's phone speakers (up to ten people is the ideal number) or through one phone that's connected to speaker. Here's how to set it up.

1) Get connected

Once you've downloaded Flo, you'll be asked to connect Spotify and/or SoundCloud. Do that and they'll sit in your profile section, where you can unlink them.

To start a playlist, press 'host a flo' and you'll get two options. 'Sync mode' will see your playlist's music streamed through everyone's phones.

Drag your phone into the dock for 'Dock mode' and the music will play exclusively through your phone, so it can be played through a Bluetooth speaker if you have one. Pick your mode - now you're ready to get cracking on that playlist. 

2 ) Find your friends

Get your buddies to download the app - once they've connected their Spotify and/or SoundCloud accounts, they should see your 'Flo' appear on their homepage (like in the video above).

Flo works best when you're on the same Wi-Fi network, but can also work without Wi-Fi (though you'll need to keep the mode switched on in your setttings). Which means you could conceivably start making guerilla playlists with strangers on the train to work too. 

All done? Time to start furiously adding songs... 

3) Start your song-off

Added songs appear in a list on the app's homescreen, with the order very democratically chosen by according to the time they were added.

There some benefits to being the host - only you can play, pause or skip tracks, so using the app isn't a complete free-for-all. To access these, just tap the album art and they'll appear.

It's a shame Flo is currently iOS-only, but an Android version is apparently on the way (along with support for other music services). Until then, it remains a slick way to to let your iPhone-toting guests make a quick party playlist so you can concentrate on making the punch.