Office music, some love it and some hate it. While I’m in the camp that’s for office music I can completely understand why some might not be in favour of it.
We here at Mind Candy find music in the workplace to be a mood enhancement, and in a way a bonding process. You find similarities between yourself and your peers and generate links that weren’t there previously. Music helps reduce those awkward silences filled with keyboard tapping, mouse clicking and the odd coughing fits, and introduces an atmosphere which is indusive to the culture we look to nurture and promote. There’s a great few articles out there which go into greater detail about whether music in the workplace is a good or bad thing, some can be found here.
Last year we started looking into a solution for playing music for the area in which our team sits, after some search engine fu we found Mopidy. Mopidy is an extensible MPD and HTTP server written in Python. Mopidy plays music from your local disk and radio streams while with the help from extensions, you can also play music from cloud services such as Spotify, SoundCloud and Google Play Music.
As we already have a few Spotify accounts we thought we’d toy with the idea of using Mopidy to play music from Spotify. In order to use Spotify you also need to use the Mopidy-Spotify extension.
Once we had both Mopidy and the Spotify extension working we then needed something to interact with it all. After looking through the Mopidy documentation we came across the web extensions section which suggests various web interfaces to interact with the HTTP side of the Mopidy server.
Initially we used Apollo Player. Apollo Player’s great as it allows anyone to log in using their Google Apps or Twitter credentials and then add music to a one time playlist meaning anyone can choose what music is playing. There is also a bombing feature so any music that’s been added can be skipped if bombed by three people. When no music has been selected it will default back to a playlist set in config.js which is found in the root directory of Apollo. The problem there is that once the default playlist has been played for the umpteenth time it can get pretty tedious and only people with access to the app’s root directory can change this. This led us to Mopify.
Mopify gives you much of the functionality that the Spotify client gives you e.g. Browse, Featured Playlists, New Releases, Playlists and Stations. You can log in with your own Spotify account or use the account that Mopidy-Spotify is utilising and use the playlists associated with either account. It gives you greater functionality and options than Apollo but then you lose the collaboration and unmanaged element you had with Apollo.
Finally we then needed to actually run Mopidy on something as it was no good having it run from my local machine. We decided to use a Raspberry Pi and plugged it into some speakers running along the cable trays above our heads. The Rasberry Pi is running Raspbian with Mopidy, Mopidy-Spotify and which ever web extension we’ve chosen. Another Raspberry Pi with Mopidy has been set up as a jukebox in our chillout/games area which works really well with Mobile devices due to most of the web extensions being bootstrapped. This gives employees the flexibility to easily play whatever music they feel like when they are in the communal area.
In our eyes, while music in the office isn’t a necessity, it is definitely beneficial, and it’s fantastic that all these open source tools and products give us the ability to do this.
And lets be honest, who can’t resist an impromptu sing along to Bohemian Rhapsody!
Mopidy – Extensible music server written in Python
Mopidy-Spotify – Mopidy extension for playing music from Spotify
Apollo Player – Mopidy web extension
Mopify – Mopidy web extension
Raspberry Pi – ARM based computer running under GNU/Linux