The app from the Glasgow-based shop is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
The app, which had a soft launch in June and is available on Android and iOS, is designed to replicate aspects of the in-store experience. It cues up EPs, with minute-long clips for each track, that you can swipe between. You can then "favourite" an EP, which moves it to a saved items basket. From there, you can either listen again or move the contents to the cart to complete a purchase. The app learns your tastes as you use it, but will throw in "the occasional curveball." It is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK.
Wilba Sandieson, who co-runs the retailer and distributor, told Resident Advisor that he approached the digital consultancy Greenhill with an idea for in September 2016—only to be told initially that Rubadub didn't need one. Eventually, Greenhill suggested a "Tinder for records" concept, but it was rejected after a trial because it made dismissal of artists and labels too easy and risked removing them from the app's suggestion algorithm altogether.
"I approached Greenhill and asked, 'Why don't we do an app?,'" explained Sandieson. "They said it might not be needed as the website was so mobile friendly." Discussing the abandoned Tinder concept, he said: "The feedback from [former Rubadub boss] Barrie Watson was that he may want to revisit things he rejected previously and didn't want to be removed from that style or music or artist just because he rejected one in the past. It made good sense to [preserve] the vibe of being served records by the Rubadub staff you would not normally listen to."
The musical experience, which Sandieson equates to a "radio for clips of music," is another key component. "Where we had imagined fans constantly interacting with the screen," said Greenhill's Liam Nugent, "they expressed a desire to listen to a continuous stream of music and only interact when something piqued their interest... We wanted users to be able to listen to the app on the bus, in the car, on foot, in the office or at home, without it stalling or dragging."
Earlier this month, Discogs released an updated version of their iOS app, through which users can also buy records. Other vinyl-related apps, such as VinylHub and The Vinyl District, direct users to the locations of thousands of bricks-and-mortar shops globally.
Read Kit Macdonald's 2017 feature on Rubadub.
Photo credit: Jamie Dunn