Online Club Experience? Turntable FM is getting there.

Turntable FM, a hot new topic in tech circles, distills the DJ concept down to a fundamental level. In an open MIC style room, 5 DJs play songs one at a time (with no mixing) and a crowd of strangers provide instant feedback on how much they like the music.  This format seems to be highly addictive with Facebook levels of  engagement and an exploding base of users (360k FB signups in the last few weeks).  The site may have some interesting lessons to teach us about DJing and the future of music technology.

ONLINE CLUBS?

B@ TV is a popular site that provides live video streaming from club events from around the world so you can “be at” any club in the world. Even if that means sitting on the couch in your skivvies with a massive hang over on a Monday afternoon – yes you too can be in the hottest club in the world and never pay a cover charge.  The site is addictive and gaining steam but you are probably wondering:

Will the club experience go on-line in the future? Well, Turntable FM and B@ tap into two core human desires:

  1. Social Observation – AKA Girl lurking (Be@) and people watching (Turntable FM).
  2. Power (controlling the room, sharing your personal tastes, being “the” man).

Right now the online experience lacks two critical elements Darwin vs the machine points out in his research

“A nightclub does not sell alcohol, it sells sex and social status.” – Yale Fox

DOES EVERYONE WANT TO BE A DJ?

We can probably agree that online sites will not be replacing the club experience any time soon, but turntable FM is gaining a lot of traction and has proven to be highly addictive. I guarantee most of its users are not professional DJs, or even casual users of technology but normal, everyday people that love music and want to share it with others.  In that sense, the “DJ” market is potentially much larger than the small slice of “pro-sumers” that the industry presently targets.

This has big implications for the “digital DJ market” which is becoming increasingly accessible to a wider group of people.

SOCIAL LEVERAGE

Turntable Fm has one killer feature that not only makes the site super sticky but may just be a clue for the future. Here is their description from the FAQ:

“If you find a DJ that you like, you can ‘fan’ them so you receive an email alert whenever they start DJing.”

This is huge, and brings back the concept of following DJs that you like that felt a lot stronger in the 90’s DJ scene.  Social recommendation, following and liking tracks or DJs starts to build a very smart enviroment that will allow listeners to safely navigate the increasingly giant landscape of new music available online.

USEFUL TOOLS

I have been using both of these sites as a way of listening to what other DJs are playing, and interested in. Turntable makes the art of train-spotting terribly easy with direct links to purchase tracks on iTunes. If be@ integrated set lists from the DJs with direct purchase links or a twitter feed (ala Richie Hawtin) then we would have a powerful look into the track listings of popular DJs. Even without the songs, these streams provide a valuable sense of what is hot and the styles popular DJs are playing around the world. If nothing else, it gives all of us a powerful look directly into the listening habits of tastemakers around the world providing some really useful data for building your own sets!

PROVING GROUND


Apparently, being a famous DJ may get you a high paying club DJ position but it wont buy you acceptance on turntable.fm. Paul Miller (of Wired) recounts his experiance in a room with Diplo and Ryan Schreiber, founder of Pitchfork in this hilarious blog entry. I have been trolling around turntable.fm and might even get up on the decks, if I get up the courage.

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