As a prospective wannabe DJ and geek, three things in today's world incapacitate my productivity: finding good music, cute little avatars, and Facebook.
Enter Turntable.fm, one of the freshest streaming-music apps to hit the Web scene. Turntable.fm is part music-streaming service, part chat room, and part election. Turntable.fm is similar to other music-streaming Web apps like Pandora and GrooveShark; users can create their own custom playlists and listen to music of similar genres and interests. Now imagine taking that playlist you worked so hard on and sharing it with an audience. Live.
Users create a DJ avatar and enter one of many rooms where they can interact with people of similar musical taste. Five DJ slots are open for people to take their stab at sharing a song from their playlist. Unlike other streaming music apps on the Web, users in Turntable.fm all listen to the same track at once, allowing them to comment or "politely" express their disapproval all in real time. Users can also actively vote if the song is "Awesome" or "Lame." DJs earn points for every vote, which in turn can be used to upgrade their avatars with newer costumes. If enough people vote positively, the onstage DJ racks up points, and users will be treated to a full house of head-banging avatars; enough "Lame" votes will force the current track to be skipped.
While a song is playing, users can hover over the DJ table and choose to either add their song to their Turntable, Last.fm and Spotify (current not available in the U.S.) playlist, or purchase the song from iTunes store. Although it's currently in beta stages, hopefully the catalog support will expand to other music vendors such as Amazon.
As of now, the only way to get an account is to be Facebook friends with someone who already has a Turntable ID. Despite its semiclosed registration, Turntable.fm's membership is growing at a rapid rate. Only a few weeks ago, the number of simultaneous users we'd seen in a chatroom was about 20-30. As of this post, there are rooms that have exploded into over 200 users in one room. Silicon Valley's Coding channel seems to be drawing the biggest crowd.
Although Turntable.fm can be used as an idle music listening Web app, most of the fun comes from trying to actually score points as a virtual DJ. There's a deep satisfaction that comes from watching your DJ points go up and gaining the approval of your audience, or even blackmailing for points by threatening to Rickroll them. In either case, Turntable.fm's charm comes from being actively involved with your music and the audience, watching the avatars approvingly nod their heads to the beat, and saving up for that insanely expensive Deadmau5 helmet avatar you've always wanted. It's this somewhat simplistic yet addicting system where both users (and investors) will find value in the Turntable.fm experience.
Turntable.fm's combination of Medianet-based search results with user uploaded content already boasts an impressive amount of songs to compile that perfect playlist. One can presume that a good chunk of the profitability will come from users discovering new music through this service, as well as potential advertising opportunities as the site continues to grow.
Currently, Turntable.fm is still in its beta stages, so expect to see some bugs here and there. Log on to see if you're friends with a Turntable member and join the social music experience. Just don't expect to be too productive at work with this running in the background. Sound off in the comments below and let us know how your experience is with it thus far!