Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Become Your Own DJ: Turnable.fm Spins Your Jams

I’ve just received an invitation to join a new social network (?). No, it's not Google+. I'm already there!

I'm talking about Turnable.fm. As of the moment, this site is in Beta, and it's by an Invite Only. So, I'll tell you a bit about it so that you'd decide, whether to pursue a membership there or not...

I went to the site, and it looked rather amusing – although neither my professional, nor my personal life has anything to do with wanting to be a DJ. At least - not yet.

The last time I’ve DJ-ed was during my studies at the Oregon State University, where I’ve introduced and produced two radio shows – introducing a very white and non-diverse Oregonian audience to Techno/Trance Music and Russian Music for KBVR FM 88.7. Believe it or not - 99.9% of the students at OSU have heard none of them. For about 3  years, I’ve turned the tables and spinned the jams, so as they say…
That’s one of the reasons I’ve become interested in finding out what this whole site - Turnable.fm - is.
Turntable FM
A musical chat room for friends and co-workers. Make your own/join an existing one, become a DJ, and take turns spinning jams. Deem songs “lame” or “awesome” and jabber all the while.

According to the information available about Turntable.fm, it has been in the news a lot recently, and so I figured it could be worth it to look into it. Here is one of the videos I found online that explains the basics of it.
However, there have been multiple significant new features added since then.
The principles of Turntable are simple:
1.    You join and start listening to music that other people are playing, and you chat to the other people who are also listening, and the DJ’s.
2.    Being a DJ is also as simple. A room, by default, can have 5 DJ’s at once, and it is a turn based game. Each DJ has their turn to play a song after the DJ before them finishes theirs. It is almost like a competition between DJ’s, whoever can get the most people bobbing to their song. Listeners start bobbing by clicking ‘Awesome’ when listening to a song they like.

Being a Listener
When you ‘Awesome’ a song, the DJ also gets points, which he can then use to ‘purchase’ avatars. The avatars range from regular people to big gorillas, so there is a large variety of options.
When you ‘Lame’ a song, it puts the ticker down (as opposed to going up when you hit ‘Awesome’). If too many people lame the song (in proportion with the amount of people in the room), the song gets skipped.
While listening to a song, you can hover over the song title and choose to add the song to your own Turntable Queue (explained in the next paragraph) or find it on iTunes, Last.fm or Spotify. In the room, you can choose to share the room with your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or email it to someone.
Being a DJ
Arguably the best feature about Turntable is the large selection of music they already have, or the easy uploading if they don’t have your song.
You simply search for an artist, album or track title, and it comes up with a list powered by Medianet.
Once you find the song you want, you add it to your ‘DJ Queue’. The top song in your DJ Queue gets played net time it is your turn to DJ. You can also listen to your own songs in the queue, and so if you wanted to ditch the social aspect of Turntable and just use it as a very large collection of music, you could do that to. The developers are planning on creating an iPhone app, so soon you will be able to take this collection of music with you.
Creating a DJ Room
Creating a room is great if you have friends willing to join you in the room and once you get high enough on the list, you should start getting random listeners. Another way to get listeners is to play popular songs, as the current song is displayed when people are choosing a room. When you create a room, options that are present include the ability to change the room name, max amount of DJ’s (5-1) and DJ points required to become a DJ. You can also choose not to list your room, if you want to have a private session with a few friends…or by yourself. Once you have created the room, you are told you are the moderator and you have the ability to edit the room description, or to ‘kick’ problematic users. The room info ‘tab’ also displays recently played songs of the room.
Being a Friend or Social
Social features of Turntable include the chat and the ‘fan’ feature (plus the ‘awesome’ feature I’ve mentioned previously). The chat is a simple, real-time tool for communicating with all the other people in the room. This means you can request songs, discuss your preference on the current song, or just chat about whatever comes to your mind. The obvious downside with a chat is the problem of spamming and offensive comments.  
The ‘fan’ feature is a new addition. You can become a fan on any DJ, and that is recorded underneath their DJ points. You can then proceed to view how many fans they have, to see if they are popular or what not. I assume DJ points and fans will have direct correlation, however it will distinguish between DJ’s who occasionally play songs that listeners like, or DJ’s who constantly do. Another benefit of the fan’s feature, is that you get an email each time said person is DJing.
According to many ‘reviewers’ and ‘testers’ out there, Turntable is a fun App. It says to change the way we discover and listen to music. It is like an exclusive game, trying to get into a DJ spot, and then getting more ‘Awesome’s than the other DJ’s in the room. The only way to get in is if you are friends with someone who has access on Facebook, which ensures that only people who really want to get in can create an account.

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