Turntable.fm Brings Back Music’s Sociability

Everyone loves music, and it has brought people together for centuries.  It sets the mood of a social gathering, and it’s often one of the first things someone considers for large events like wedding reception or party.  In the case of night club owners, the most important aspect of their business is the ability to bring in popular DJs that draw people to their establishment.

However, when the iPod came along, music lost a bit of it’s social side.  It actually became a way to isolate yourself from others, and the white headphones made a visual statement that said “Don’t talk to me.  I’m listening to my music.”  But, one online startup is looking to change that mindset.

Turntable.fm is injecting a social aspect into music that seemed to be fading.  People everywhere are logging on to play their favorite tracks and discuss it with others that have the same taste in music.  If you haven’t visited the site yet, it’s a basic, yet brilliant concept.

First, users create and name a “room” that is typically based off of a genre of music or mood.  From 80s to Indie and everything in between, you’ll find a room to match your preference.  If you can’t find one you like, feel free to start your own and invite people to join.  In each room, there is a set of DJ positions where you and four other people can select the music that is played in the room.  Each DJ gets a turn to play one of their selections, and the other users in the room rate their song by clicking the “Lame” or “Awesome” button.  As the votes come in, a needle moves toward either the “Skip Song” or “Rock Out” side of the meter.  The DJ that selected the song also gains points for playing something that the room likes.  In addition to the music, there’s a chat element that allows everyone in the room to discuss the song being played.

Pandora was one of the first widely accepted ways of listening to music online, and it appears that they now have competition with Turntable.fm.  Although Pandora’s music selection algorithm was revolutionary, it still lacks that human element that is there when you listen to music with a group of like-minded friends gathered around stereo.  Turntable.fm is user generated and controlled, which just makes it downright fun and addictive.

One of the best parts is watching the backlash that occurs when someone picks a bad song in a room with large group of users.  They band together and start campaigning for everyone to click “Lame”.  Because of the potential for public humiliation and loss of DJ points, you need to bring your best stuff when it’s your turn to play a song.

In my opinion, this is the aspect that’s making the site so popular.  Because users are hungry to gather more DJ points and followers, the songs in most rooms are usually within the correct genre and really great to listen to.  Plus, with people logging on from different regions, it’s a fantastic way to discover new music that hasn’t made it to your area yet.  When this happens, it’s easy to click “buy” and promptly be directed to the appropriate page in iTunes.

Users love it for it’s ability to bring a social feel to online music.  Record labels love it because it helps sell their artists’ work.  With both sides winning, there’s a good chance that Turntable.fm will be popular for quite some time.