As the new kid on the block, turntable has been making quite the name for itself. The site is a mashup between a music site and a chatroom, where you sign in (via Facebook, though hopefully they will “fix” that once the site is out of beta) and can hang out in a room listening to other people DJ and chat, or add music to your own queue and give DJing a shot. The selling point? It’s free, You can play whatever music you want (if it’s not already in their extensive library, you can upload whatever songs you want), and it’s entertaining.
I signed up a few weeks ago and turntable has virtually replaced iTunes for me. Two months ago, if I was sitting at my computer and wanted to listen to music, I’d open up iTunes, or I would go to Slacker Radio if I wanted it to be a bit more random. Then someone linked me to turntable and I started to check it out. I set up my profile and changed my little avatar to one of the nine basic guys (or girls) you can choose from, and hopped into a room. And no one was in the room. “Okay” I thought, “I’ll just DJ and see if anyone comes in.” Nope. And if you’re by yourself DJing you only get a sample of your song and the site auto-mutes it. Anyone else in the room can still hear it. But you can’t. This is to cover themselves legally, in the same way that (most) other free internet radio services won’t let you pick and choose specific songs (without a premium account anyway) because of copyrights. So I changed rooms. I went into a random room I saw with over 100 people in the room. “Wow… okay… but wait, no DJ spots are open. Ah… well, I guess I’ll just sit and listen.” So I stayed and listened. And I discovered exactly what makes this site amazing.
As I sat in the room and watched people chat and bob their heads I learned how to use the voting system. When a DJ plays a song, you hit Awesome if you like it and it gives the DJ a point. DJ’s use points to buy new avatars. Or you can hit Lame if you’re sick of that damn song, and if enough people hit Lame (based off of the number of people in the room) it will skip the song, straight to the next DJ. Also, the only way to make your little avatar bob his head is to hit Awesome… and who doesn’t love seeing a room full of bobbing heads. I know I do. And if you don’t… it means you haven’t been on turntable yet. But back to the story…
Okay, so I’m sitting in this room listening, and the first few DJs play their songs. Then one of them steps down and someone else hops up to DJ. And they are horrible. You see, some rooms on turntable have themes. Only this type of music in this room, or this room is only playing 90′s power pop for the next hour. And if you don’t follow the theme, expect to get booted. Well, this new DJ didn’t follow the theme. They let his first song play, and warned him to shape up. But his next song was even worse. You don’t play bad techno in an alt. rock room. So he got booted. I was ready for this, so I snagged the spot quickly after he was removed. My first chance to DJ for a crowd! Luckily, I had four songs before it got to me (rooms usually have five DJ slots, though some can have less), which gave me time to set up my queue. I added a few songs and got ready. And it was good. People liked me. I got my first DJ points. And the people were bobbing their heads! Instant stardom.
But then my next song got “Lamed.” Oh no! Had I unintentionally broken the theme? Nope… just not many people liked the song. It was okay, I was able to redeem myself with my next few songs. And before I knew it I had a few fans. When you “Fan” someone you basically sign up to get e-mail notifications when they are DJing, so if you’re on, you can hop in that room to chat and/or listen to them. Very cool. But then I had to go. Would I be remembered, or would my DJ name (ravnos, of course) be forgotten as the next DJ started to spin… But no! The next night I signed on and hopped into the same room, and was greeted heartily by a few of the same folks from the day before! It was wonderful. Though once again no DJ spots were available I sat, chatted, and waited patiently till I was able to hop up. And that is one of the wonderful things about turntable as well… the user base.
Turntable has possibly one of the nicest user bases I’ve ever seen. Friendly, generally respectful, and quick to put someone down for not being those things. A pleasant surprise, considering the internet is full of these sorts of people… (please note I refuse to give their actual website any traffic… sorry, can’t do it). But really, these are some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with online since the turn of the century (feels weird saying that…).
Are there any cons to turntable? Well… sometimes it’s hard to find a room playing stuff you like. I’ve signed on, none of the DJs that I “fanned” were on, and I ended up bouncing rooms for twenty minutes before I found a room playing music I enjoy. But that’s not too serious of a negative. And you can always open your own room if you want. I run a room for this site (if you are on turntable just search for Aberro Specus, you’ll find it) which is generally populated with a few of my friends, but we’ve had a few random DJs as well, who I’ve come to know and respect.
So next time you’re looking to listen to some music, go to turntable.fm and check the site out. Remember (sadly) you need a Facebook account to sign on, and even then one of your Facebook friends has to already be on there (though more than likely, one of them is). And hop on. Though don’t do it if you need to get something done, or at least don’t sign into a high population room… turntable is a serious productivity killer. Trust me.
And if you’re interested, check out the Aberro Specus room. I’m usually in there in the evenings.