Turntable.fm gives the music lover and DJ hopeful the sharing ability the Internet has longed for ever since the mass switch to mp3s. A beta project right now, with invites only granted if you have a Facebook friend already using the service, Turntable allows you and your friends to take turns picking tunes. Even knowledgeable people you don’t know can jump up on the DJ table and open up a whole new world of genres you never thought you’d catch yourself dancing along with in your seat. Let’s take a look at what the site has to offer.
The first page upon gaining access to Turntable gives you a list of rooms with titles revealing the kind of music the creator and its listeners are spinning. At first glance, there’s a niche for every genre from the 80s to smooth jazz. Unless changed by the room creator, the default setting allows 5 DJs. The more popular rooms have gained some consistent DJs, drawing bigger crowds. Scroll further down the list and Turntable offers some less filled rooms, allowing for a small club feel. If nothing appeals, you can quickly create your own room and start laying down some tunage. There is also a private room setting available, with it’s own unique URL you can send to friends for a private party. Hover over your friend’s and favorite DJ’s avatar to “become a fan” and be alerted whenever they start DJing across Turntable.
Once you are in a room, the user interface looks exactly like the indie clubs we all frequented before that one band we saw every weekend got huge. Big standalone speakers stand on either side of the DJ table and hovering over them offers a volume control. The front panel of the DJ table itself scrolls the name and artist info of the track playing, and hovering over it allows you tweet, Facebook, Last.fm, add the song to Spotify, or look up the rest of the artist’s tracks on iTunes. Once you gain a DJ spot, start loading songs either from your own files or search the Turntable database to build up your queue. A spotlight falls over the DJ taking their turn, and even offers a laptop branded with the operating system they are using to give you that authentic DJ feel.
Turntable’s presentation of the DJ reputation makes the experience very close to the competition within the scratching world. While a song is playing, listeners are able to vote a song as “Lame” or “Awesome.” Too many “Lame” votes will cause your song to be skipped, but an “Awesome” will earn your avatar points. The more points you have, the more obvious it is you have supreme taste in music. Also, the point system unlocks bizarrely fun avatars from little dudes and gals with red mohawks, to bear suits, to a likeness of Deadmau5 and Daft Punk.
The only downsides I’ve encountered are the occasional hipster supremacy or classic rock “never heard before B-sides” that can permeate the room. This kind of service wouldn’t be complete without the snobbery of the new and old rare gems. While they can occasionally gang up on the poor, unsuspecting Top 40 user, it is fun to see those same groups guilty pleasure “Awesome” some Madonna. Sometimes jockeying for a DJ spot can take time, but rooms experiencing DJ hogging tend to set up their own limit as to how many songs can be spun per DJ. The service is also only available within the US right now, sorry Polish rap stars.
Turntable.fm offers a haven for every taste of tune, while still providing an option to seclude yourself in trance and techno. I will frequently join a random room while working on writing, letting other people build the soundtrack to my day. I’ll be honest, little makes me happier than bestowing new fans of my favorites, so if you want to give the service a try or spin some tracks, drop a comment with your username, look for DJ LMack, and let’s jam.
Lauren Mack: Co-founder of The Well Written Woman is an aspiring writer, blogger, and overall enthusiast of brainstorms. She is currently attending Flagler College as an English major with no intentions to teach. Lauren spends a lot of time reading novels and hoping she can one day finish her own. She often wonders how they made blue cheese so delicious. Really, she is just imposing her elitist attitude on everyone.You can find her pennings at her blog and follow her on Twitter.