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"Hey, Mr. DJ": RequestNow delivers song requests via text

Posted by Scott Kirsner  June 13, 2013 04:12 PM

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Nudging your way through a sea of bodies on the dance floor is soooooooo 20th century. These days, to ask the DJ to play a song, you're better off using your mobile phone.

At least that's the vision of RequestNow, a new startup from two Boston University undergrads. When you send a text message to a special phone number, RequestNow figures out what song you're probably talking about, and adds it to the DJ's queue. Songs requested by more than one person float to the top of the list. The founders are Matthew Auerbach and Guy Aridor, who met in a computer science course; Auerbach has some DJing experience.

I tried it this afternoon, and it was pretty good at figuring out what songs I was talking about. Texting "Heroes" put the David Bowie song on the play list. The first time I asked for "Crazy," it assumed I meant the Gnarls Barkley song, but a second text for "Crazy by Seal" set it straight.

RequestNow hopes that DJs will pay a monthly fee for access to the app, starting at $9.99 per month. A higher-priced version will let them send out marketing messages to people who requested songs, presumably promoting future gigs.

"It gives them the ability to market themselves and develop a relationship with audiences," says Peter Boyce of Rough Draft, a seed stage investment group that is putting $10,000 into RequestNow. "It's almost like a marketing platform."

Aridor is working on the startup from Brookline this summer; Auerbach is out in Silicon Valley, where he has a summer internship at Facebook.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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