When a music playing site catches the eye of the law, you know it has to be good.
Turntable.fm is constructed for those who love the sound of their own iTunes libraries and can’t bear listening to Pandora or their perfectly made Grooveshark playlist one more time without others listening as well. In it, users are represented by little Katamari Damacy-inspired avatars and take turns playing songs for one another in user-created “rooms” (with titles ranging from the cringe-inducing “Indie While You Work” to simply, “Jazz“). You can create a playlist much like Grooveshark and pine for a spot on the virtual turntables, but you can also just sit back and listen to what the DJs come up with, voting a song up or down.
It’s gained some attention within the past week or so, some good, some bad. The bad: Pitchfork has reported that because of the ability to upload songs from your personal library, it’s run afoul of some international (and by international I probably mean German) music licensing laws. Thankfully though, because of certain restrictions, such as the requirement that a room must have more than one person in it before playing entire songs, Turntable is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the U.S.
The good attention: because Turntable requires you to sign in via Facebook or Twitter, you can easily hop into rooms of people you may follow. So when @diplo tweeted that he was spinning in a room at Turntable.fm, the site nearly crashed with the number of people who joined for the first time to listen in.
One of the nice parts of Turntable is the social aspect. I logged onto Turntable and saw that someone from Rollo & Grady, an LA-based online music publication company and blog, had a room going. Soon, probably through the same fashion, the guy that runs the eclectic LA music blog Aquarium Drunkard joined in. So there I was with two music people I really respected and not many else. I’d read their writing, I’d downloaded mp3s. I threw on my first two songs or so, and they liked them. How did I know? Well first off, when a user votes up a song, their avatar begins bobbing its head to the tune. There’s nothing like noticing a sea of bobbing heads after putting on a song and getting your ego boost for the day without having to say a word. Another reason I knew: chat functionality. “This is hot,” one modestly said, probably without thinking and while doing laundry, and I nearly swooned. “These tastemakers had never heard these songs before and they liked them?” I excitedly thought, somehow using the phrase “tastemaker” in my head.
So, in another way, Turntable.fm is a better social networking tool than other online music communities like Last.fm. The music is intrinsically connected to the social interactions, and the social interactions are easy and casual. It’s easy to reconnect with people you enjoyed, as well. Become their fan and you can see if they’re hanging out in a room on the homepage. It’s possible that Turntable will eventually incorporate ads or become a pay-to-play service, so I’d advise to get it while it’s hot and still in beta. Hopefully I’ll see you on there and we can both say, off-handedly, “This is hot.”