Turntable.fm- A Love Letter

I get kind of jaded surfing the web as much as I do; I mean I probably use Google Search 500+ times a day and I’ve seen the best and the worst of what the web has to offer. As such, I get pretty excited when a new site or service comes along that I can actually use- and man, did I start using a doozy, just last week. The site is called turntable.fm and it filled a niche in my online life so perfectly that I felt the need to write a droolingly effusive post about their service.

Let’s face it, I’m getting old. I’ll be 36 in February, I have a 4 year-old, lots of bills to pay, and much less free time than I used to have. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for me to do something I really used to enjoy- keeping up with new music trends and acts. I can’t listen to the radio because the banality of the advertising kills me and while iTunes can make suggestions as to what I might like based on what I’ve purchased from them, a 30 second preview snippet might not be enough to determine if the song is worth my hard-earned $1.29.  So what’s a guy to do? Luckily, turntable.fm already thought about this and had one of those one-in-a-million ideas that makes me say “I should have thought of that!”

I signed up for turntable.fm months ago but tried to log in a few times and found that the Facebook connect service just wasn’t working all that well (I wish I had tried harder as some of the other DJ’s on Turntable have quite a head start on me now- more on that later) so I sort of lost interest. However, logging in at http://www.turntable.fm these days is a seamlessly perfect experience. The way the app is set up, when you first log in, you choose yourself an avatar as a virtual representation for the various genre-based listening rooms. You fill out your profile with as much or as little data as you want, and then you’re free to choose a room from the lobby. From there, you choose the room you want to visit and are taken to that room, which looks like this:

You’ll notice at the top of the screen there are 5 Users whose avatars are facing the rest of the crowd. These are your DJ’s! Moving from left to right, each DJ gets to play one song- the topmost song in their queue, which is listed right there on the right. Underneath those DJ’s you will see the name of the song that’s playing along with the artist and time remaining in the track. If you mouse over that interface, you will see buttons that pop up that allow you to:

  • Add the current song to your turntable.fm playlist- you can play it later if you heard it, even if you don’t own and didn’t upload it!
  • A button that will allow you to buy the mp3 of the track right from Amazon (if they have it)
  • A button that will allow you to buy the track right form iTunes (if they have it)
  • A button to add the track to last.fm
  • A button to add the track to Spotify
  • A button to add the track to rdio.com

Underneath the DJ platform interface, you’ll see avatars that represent the other listeners in the room. Occasionally, chat bubbles will pop up above their heads as they chat in the interface on the right-hand, bottom side. It can be tough to identify yourself in a crowded room, luckily, avatars aren’t super important at this time. You can even earn better avatars through playing music that people like, which brings me to a very prominent feature of the music rooms- the Lame/Awesome meter. Stabbing the “Awesome” button gives the DJ a point that can’t be taken back and causes your avatar to bop their head to the beat. In theory, if enough people stab the “Lame” button the song gets skipped, and if a DJ has too many songs skipped in a row they get booted from their spot. However, the “Lame button” isn’t working right now. Hopefully that gets fixed in the future, Raffi’s “Banana Telephone” mixed in with dubstep can be more than a little jarring.

Turntable.fm also allows you to upload your own MP3s to use in addition to the existing library, which allows you to search for songs to play when it’s your turn to DJ if you haven’t uploaded anything. There are also improvements coming in the future to allow better sorting of the playlist, allow DJ’s to interact with their fans, and my most anticipated feature- DJ battles!

So why do I love this interface so much? Aren’t there several sites doing the same thing? I love it because it allows me to keep up with trends in music while I work- instead of opening up iTunes, I just let Turntable.fm run in a background window- I do pop in to add a track I particularly like to my playlist or “Like” a song so my avatar bounces to the beat. The best part, though, is how easy they make it to buy something I really like- it’s all right there, integrated into the interface, and I can buy a song and be in and out of iTunes seamlessly. I’m not sure exactly why people sharing this music is okay from a copyright perspective, but the system does limit songs to no more than 3 songs from the same album within 4 hours. However, if I were a music publisher, I wouldn’t be worried about that- I’d be worried about how I was going to thank them for getting my artists’ music in front of so many people, and providing such an easy interface!

Love the site guys. Keep it up! I’m gonna be DJing in the dubstep and Phish rooms whenever possible to get one of those awesome Daft Punk Superuser avatars. See you on the site!



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