Turntable.fm: Party Like a DJ

Internet music has blown up in the last few years. With sites like GrooveShark.com and Pandora.com offering free music streaming that allows users to pick and choose what they hear, who can argue against the fact it doesn’t get much better than that? Even a lot of public radio stations have started offering a free live feed on their channels’ websites. (This greatly pleases me as I can now listen to Birmingham’s Classic Hits Station 106.9 The Eagle when I’m not in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa. 52 minutes of classic rock every hour! It’s the best.

But ladies and gents, it’s time to acknowledge something new. Something I’ve certainly never seen before. It lets you choose exactly what you hear. There are NO COMMERCIALS. Others can listen to your “station” and decide if it’s hot or not. It is Turntable.fm, and it is awesome.

You see, the creators of Turntable have taken social networking and internet music and combined them. The premise of the site is very simple, which makes it all the more appealing: If you have a Facebook account, and one of your friends is already on Turntable.fm, you’re in. Once you sign into the site, choose one of Turntable’s many “rooms.” You can see a list and preview of what song is currently playing in each room, most of which have genre-based names like “Classic Rock,” “Hip Hop- All Eras,” or “Indie While You Work.” You can even see a little icon of your Facebook friends or the DJs you’ve become a fan of on Turntable who are in each room.

Once you choose a room (Or create your own!), there must be at least two DJs present to be able to hear the music, but that usually isn’t a problem. The rooms themselves look like a club, with a DJ stage with up to five turntables, which appear as laptops labeled with whatever the user’s OS is when playing. There are speakers set up like a club’s and you can mouse over these to control your volume or bass. There’s also this nifty little contraption with a meter, which runs from LAME to AWESOME. Each user in the room can click these buttons to let the current DJ know what they think of their song. If you “awesome” a song, your avatar also starts to bob his/her head back and forth. It’s adorable. And I’ve found I’ve started doing it in real life more, especially in my car, while listening to music.

The only catch? To get a DJ spot in the good rooms, you’ve gotta be quick! Only up to five are allowed at once, and they each take turns playing one song from their queue, which you can fill with music from your own MP3 collection or search through Turntable’s extensive database. If you’re really ambitious, you can upload your own mixes and songs that you personally wrote, etc… Most people don’t, but I’ve heard a few good mashups and things.

I’m not going to get into the questionable legal side of this site. They currently have a deal with a music database, and they offer users the option to view or buy a song on iTunes, Amazon, etc… but it’s up in the air how long the site’s commercial and ad-free amazingness will be able to continue. If you want to read more about this, you can find an article here.

Even if Turntable did plaster ads in their margins or force a commercial into the music stream once in every round of songs, I don’t think I would mind. Because the appeal of this site is being able to share music with your friends and complete strangers, and to discover new music in turn (or, if you’re constantly DJing the classic rock rooms, like me, new old music). And what’s more, for every person who “awesomes” a song you’re playing, you get a DJ point. Amass enough points, and you can unlock new avatars for your DJ character. You start simple, but then there are bear and cat suits, gorillas, Deadmau5 suits, and the ever-elusive “Super User” spacesuits. It’s really fun to watch a Deadmau5 bob his giant mouse ears back and forth. You have to see it.

Turntable screen shot

I also use the site as radio while I’m working, because once in a room, you really don’t have to do anything. You can just listen if you want. DJing takes some of your attention, and can get addictive if people like your songs (I stayed in a room for 3-4 hours once). But it’s also great just to plug in some headphones and enjoy what other people are playing.

So, if this sounds like something you might be interested in… You know, if you like free radio with no commercials where you get to play whatever you want and watch a giant Deadmau5 head bob back and forth (WHO WOULDN’T??), check out Turntable.fm! And if you feel like “awesoming” anything played by the adorable little bear avatar DJ JojoMonster… Feel free to do so. 😉

Peace Out, readerpeople.

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