Let me start off by saying that I am an absolute music addict. I spend the majority of my waking hours (and a lot of those I spend sleeping) with earphones firmly in place listening to an extensive and highly varied music collection that has taken years to accumulate and that I value more than anything I own. Occasionally though, after listening to everything so much, I grow tired of something and leave it alone for a while before coming back to it and wondering why I’d stopped listening to it in the first place. This creates the need for finding something fresh and exciting, but as I mentioned in my review of Discovr, this has become incredibly difficult to do these days, just because there is so much to sift through and choose from.
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Tonight I found Turntable.fm for iPhone. Based on the newest innovation for music on the Internet since iTunes, Turntable.fm’s app is basically an iPhone version of its web product; which is an invite only, one of a kind, virtual DJ site that allows users to join different rooms and hear music being played by upto 5 DJs.
Now to be completely honest, and before I go any further, before reading the app description on iTunes, I had no idea what Turntable.fm was or how it worked. This review is therefore based completely on the app version of the service, as I have not yet used the web version…yet!
When launching the app, you’re asked to login with your Facebook account, which connects relatively quickly without any hassle. This then takes you to the lobby, where you’ll see a list of rooms with descriptive names that all play different genres of music. Each of the rooms displays how many people are currently listening in that room as well as how many DJs are currently playing. Click on one of them and you’re taken into a cleverly designed virtual nightclub filled with other users all listening to the same music. Up on the stage, upto 5 DJ’s (represented by awesomely designed cartoony avatars) are standing behind their laptops playing their favourite music.
The artist and track name are scrolled across a screen between a massive set of speakers and at the bottom of the screen is a feedback gauge and 2 buttons: “awesome” and “lame”. Clicking on awesome makes your avatar start bobbing his head and gives the current DJ a point; which can be accumulated and redeemed for better avatars. Clicking on lame negatively affects the song being played and pushes it to be skipped by the rest of the audience. Nice little bit of gamification don’t you think? Power to the people! Think of it as the technological version of people standing on the dancefloor with their arms folded tight.
While listening to the selections of the DJs on stage, you can also click on the chat window and engage with your fellow virtual music fans about the song being played, the band who wrote it, the specific genre or whatever you’d like to engage with. You can also create your own room and allow people to come inside and have a listen to you rocking it out on the virtual decks. Music selection and playing is managed by Turntable.fm’s music database (it seriously is quite huge) but they do allow you to upload your own songs if they don’t have them.
As most first attempts at iPhone apps are, this one is quite buggy. There is quite a bit of work still to be done on the user interface and layout, and the app is best used while connected over Wi-Fi, as the playback cuts out every now and then on the device’s 3G connection. Other than that, though, Turntable.fm is a real treat for music lovers and a great convergence of internet radio, chat and social gaming, definitely something to keep an eye on over the next couple of months as competition between Spotify and Pandora heats up. So for those of you, who think you can keep a room full of strangers happy by playing the music you like, why not give it a try? At least you can close the app before being booed off stage.
Note: For now, the web version of Turntable.fm is limited to the US only. That being said, I’ve not had any problems with the iPhone app at all.
Publisher: Stickybits Inc.