Haven’t Tried Turntable.fm Yet? Here’s a Primer

Congratulations, Turntable.fm!

You are officially ‘so hot right now,’ always the combo blessing-and-curse. But regardless of the hype, this could be the discovery tweak this industry has been waiting for, and the experience is actually quite cool.  In a nutshell, you basically hang out in different rooms with other music fans, and collectively spin, listen, and chat about songs.  So, kiss those lonely nights of treacherous music discovery goodbye!

This is still in limited beta, so some are waiting to get in.  If you have a Facebook friend already on the inside, you’re granted access, and that probably covers a lot of our readers.  But we’re hearing that Turntable.fm is keeping crowds under control while they ramp their infrastructure and work out beta issues.

The Lobby. Upon entrance, you’re given a choice of several rooms, or you can create your own.

And You Are? I’ve been hanging out (or, sort of lurking) in the ‘Hip Hop, All Eras, Just Dope’ room, listening mostly and ocassionally chiming into the message board.  As I get more involved, I’ll be adding more songs into my personal queue, rating more songs, and maybe even DJing (me and my avatar are struggling to fit in, so maybe I’ll change my name and look to something more street).

Cred. As you can see, there are people that are actively deejaying, drawing supporters, and racking up points. If people are positively rating your music, you get more points and can upgrade your status.  If people think your music is ‘Lame,’ the song can be cut (and you feel bad).  Once you start getting some cred, you can unlock avatars (after 100 points), with some higher-end avatars to strive for like a deadmau5 head.

Digital Democracy.  You can upload songs from a virtual library powered by Medianet Digital.  Those can be played for the crowd, though everyone listens to the same song at the same time – that’s the essence of this site.

And, that can be a mixed experience.  One on hand, this is a communal experience, and music is great when shared.  But I still want to tune out for hours with my own collection, and shut the world out.

And, there are annoying downsides to democracy.  A song I love can easily get shouted down, and there’s always the requisite snobbiness that comes with die-hard music listeners (especially among these early-adopters).  Which means I’ll be going back to Grooveshark, iTunes, or Spotify for some privacy and non-judginess.

Two-Way Virality. Like most music apps these days, Turntable is designed to be viral.  That means you can tweet songs, blast your Facebook newsfeed, and drop a pre-populated email.  But Turntable actually lets you add songs into your existing collections on Spotify, iTunes, or Last.fm.  That list of apps will probably expand, and offers a great opportunity to actively capture that fleeting song.

Legal.  We’re not sure how this will shake out on the legal side. This represents another exotic idea, meaning that traditional legal interpretations (ie, the DMCA) are getting stretched.  The RIAA declined to comment, and we’re awaiting word from the NMPA (publishers).  Let’s hope this doesn’t get crushed by a hairy legal hammer.