Turntable.fm: A Love Story

While I've been busy forcing myself to like Google#, like everyone else, a little music community called Turntable.fm has been gaining strength. And it has quickly managed to charm my pants off.
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If you told me one week ago that there was a web service out there that I would love as much as Facebook, Twitter or Gmail, I would have laughed in your face.

I would have laughed in your face and then tweeted about it.

If you told me that soon I would wake up in the morning thinking about a music-sharing site, I would have shaken my head and sighed. "There isn't room in my heart for more!" I would say.

But you would be right. Because while I've been busy forcing myself to like Google+, like everyone else, a little music community called Turntable.fm has been gaining strength in the corners of the Internet. And it has quickly managed to charm my pants off.

It all started when an intriguing blog post sent me wandering in Turntable's direction. Because it's still in its beta phase and relatively new, you need to have a Facebook friend who uses it already to join. Luckily for me, at least one of my friends had already taken the plunge, and in I walked.

What I found was an all-you-can-eat buffet of music. And I was hungry!

At its most basic, Turntable is just a huge database of music. On top of that, users can create "rooms" based on whatever tunes they want to hear or play. However, most people prefer to remain free agents -- bopping around from room to room or settling down in one of their favorites. Like most newbies I was a little lost at first, so I took my ugly little avatar on a tour of the biggest rooms. "Indie While You Work," "DJ Wooooo's Party Rock!", "mashup.fm" are some of the most popular rooms, so I hid in their audiences for a while and tested the "Lame" and "Awesome" buttons, swaying my little avatar head to the sweet beats.

It didn't take long for me to realize that the real glamour of Turntable lies in being a DJ, so I set out to find a more welcoming room for my first go on the DJ table. I was surprised to learn that each room has its own distinct personality and that many people take this very, very seriously. Some rooms are straight up dog-eat-dog.

Slightly shaken after witnessing some harsh interactions, I found myself in a smallish folk/indie room and was immediately impressed by the witty banter going on in the chat box. The people all seemed to know each other. "Dear lord, where am I?" I thought to myself. But before I knew it I had joined in the conversation and found myself laughing aloud.

Song after song went by, and with each one I found myself tapping my foot to the beat. I was familiar with some of the bands, but I was blown away by how much of the music I hadn't heard before. Half of the time I was singing along, and the other half I was Googling each new band and adding them to my growing DJ queue.

By the time I worked up the courage to DJ I was a goner. I had fallen for Turntable hook, line and sinker.

Because, let me tell you: being a DJ feels like being on stage, except nobody knows who you are! In the audience is anywhere from one to 200 music fans who are hanging on your song choice.

Do you pick something no one has ever heard before? Something classic, or something new? Your adrenaline pumps as you line up the songs you know that will bring the house down, and every bobbing head in the crowd feels like a victory. There's a chance you'll be "lamed" from the stage, but there's also a chance you'll gain a fan, or even a friend.


On my second day on Turntable I entered a room and was immediately greeted by three people who had been there the day before.

Behind my laptop I beamed.

The good music and good conversation flowed freely once again. The hours slipped by and I had a whole bunch of new music. Eventually I bid my Turntable friends adieu, and with my iTunes heavy with new songs I happily reentered the real world.

Later that night when a good song came on in the restaurant I was in, I made a note in my phone and nearly giggled when I thought of sharing it on Turntable when I got home.

Does this make me nerdier than the general population? I imagine it does. But, then again, most early-adopters are of the nerdy sort. Remember when Facebook was only for Harvard students? And now your grandma's cat is on it.

But unless I've already slurped up too much of the Kool-Aid, I think it's only a matter of time before Turntable blows up. And I mean BLOWS UP. Because even though at its heart it's just another music player like Spotify and Pandora, Turntable is actually so much more. It's a community. And who doesn't like friends? I know I do.

And now if you'll excuse me, it's my turn to DJ and I've got some real crowd-pleasers lined up.

See you on the tables!

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