A few weeks ago I learned about Turntable.fm a great new service which combines social media principles with music. The idea behind this new site is simple: ‘social listening’, with users having shared experiences around music. Turntable.fm has only been around for a month or so but has already picked up over 140,000 users which is certainly no mean feat, especially if you take into account that this number is purely based on viral growth.
The only main downside with Turntable.fm’s model seems to be music licensing. Reason why the site (temporarily) had to restrict its access to the USA only. Even though I havent’t seen an official announcement, I presume that the licensing issues have now been resolved, since I just managed to get back into the “Hip Hop – All Eras – Just Dope” room (and helped to oust another DJ who thought he could play 6 Wacka Flocka Flame songs in a row – sorry, wrong room!).
This is how it works: at the moment, Turntable.fm is invite-only and you can only sign up if a friend of yours on Facebook is already signed up. Once you’re in, the site lets you DJ, playing songs in an on-screen ‘nightclub’. Others come to listen to you in your ‘room’ and can join you on the decks if they choose (although I always seem to struggle to get some ‘play-time’).
Multiple DJs (up to five) play a song each in turn and everyone else in the room gets to vote on the current DJ’s choice. If your choice gets voted up, you get a point (and the user’s avatar start nodding its virtual head to your track). If it gets voted down by too many people it’s ditched for the next DJ’s choice (see my Wacka Flocka Flame example).
Almost as entertaining as the music are some of the comments in the site’s chat room, ranging from people desperate to get to play their songs to others explaining why Wacka Flocka Flame rules.
These are the reasons why I’m really excited about Turntable.fm and its potential:
- It’s addictive – I don’t normally get truly hooked onto social media networks but Turntable.fm could be the exception: I now want to accrue lots of fans and get people to like my track selections!
- Simple but innovative – It’s really easy to enter or create a listening room and the game oriented design of the interface is very intuitive.
- It truly is a shared experience – From people voting for a track a ‘DJ’ is spinning to having a chat about the music being played, the way Turntable.fm makes music sharing and discovery a fun, social experience is pretty genius.
- The potential for integration is there – I think that the main beauty of Turntable.fm’s model is that doesn’t eat into the market areas that the likes of Rdio, Shazam, Spotify or Soundhound occupy. Turntable.fm has already started partnering with UK-based Mixcloud and Mixlr to offer aspiring DJs and musicians a good launch pad.
Main learning point: having played with it, I can understand why people are so excited about Turntable.fm. It’s social, it’s innovative and it’s a fun way to share or discover music. Whether Turntable.fm gets the kind of traction that is necessary to become a lasting success remains to be seen; for instance, will people lose interest because don’t they get a chance to DJ or because they don’t like hanging out in empty listening rooms? Another threat (which has already materialised) is music licensing; will Turntable.fm be able to continue to use the self-created licensing loophole?
Let’s wait and see but for now I’m just going back into the “Hip Hop – All Eras” listening room and enjoy some true rap classics …
Related links for further learning: