Turntable.fm is a cool new site, generating lots of buzz. The site is made up of a variety of "rooms", which tend to have a theme relating to the genre of music being played.
Once a room is chosen, users can take a DJing spot, if one is open, or just hang out and enjoy the music. The rooms can be public or private, depending on the preference of the user. It is currently in beta testing, and can be tried out via invite only.
Discovering new music and sharing favorites has always been a large part of social networking. Music is something that ignites passion in people, like few other things can. Many people take quite a bit of pride in and even identify with their favorite bands or genres of music. For a lot of internet users, sharing music is a huge draw to social networking, as indicated by the abundance of music videos populating Facebook, Twitter and other social networking streams.
Turntable.fm is a way to get in a virtual room with friends or strangers, and share songs and opinions about music. Sharing music is a social activity, but social networking sites provide a pretty unsatisfying venue. A music video posted on Facebook may get a couple of likes, and even a comment or two, but it can't match the instant feedback that Turntable.fm allows.
When users enter a room, they have access to a rating system and a chat window. When a song comes on, listeners can rate it awesome or lame, and add comments or ask questions in the chat box. Every awesome rating gives a point to the DJ who played it.
Lame ratings don't detract from the points accumulated, but three lame votes during a song will cause the program to skip the rest of the track. Each DJ can choose their name and avatar. The points every DJ accumulates are displayed under their name, when users scroll their mouse over the avatar. DJs can become fans of each other, and the number of fans are also displayed with the user's points.
But Is It Legal?
Considering the clear demand for such a product, it's a wonder something like this hasn't been developed before. Given a bit of context and the current state of the music industry, however, it's not quite as shocking. It is quite difficult for websites, well anyone really, to obtain the rights to play music without entering into expensive deals with record labels. Fortunately, Turntable.fm found a legal loophole in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the same law that Pandora uses to operate without label deals.
MediaNet allows Turntable.fm users access to millions of songs, and any songs not available with MediaNet, can be uploaded from the user's computer. There are a few limitations to DJs, because of the lack of label deals. Users cannot listen to their playlist if no one else is in the room.
The site also limits the amount of songs by the same artist that can be played in a room. The company claims to be operating legally, but the grey areas they're working in may attract some unwanted attention from music label lawyers.