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Turntable.FM and My Love of Community

August 27, 2011

Just over a month ago, one of my co-workers linked to a Turntable.FM channel he created for our staff. As a former club/radio DJ, I was immediately smitten. My major in college was RTF as it was called back then. Radio/TV/Film. I was already a club DJ and signed up to be a DJ on the college radio station (KSYM). Our tagline at the time was “KSYM – The Alternative”. Back then, “alternative” wasn’t even a music genre. Yes. I’m old.

I was always more of a fan of DJing in clubs, because I loved the great feedback loop when you had a good groove going on. I worked in clubs playing C&W, top 40, oldies. Heck, I got my first DJ gig at a skating rink.

A few years ago before I started working in the video games industry, I picked up DJing again, this time for Booty Island Radio, a fan radio station for Pirates of the Burning Sea. I did a couple of theme shows, “Disco Saturday Night” and “Bagpipes Around the World”. Plus just some other random themes. It was paired with a fantastic IRC community, which kept things lively.

I’ve missed the community that comes with sharing music with people; the discovery of new-to-me music and the shared groans of one too many horrible 80s hair band tunes.

I love the ebb and flow of a Turntable.FM room. You can create themes on the fly, just by one person setting up a trolling challenge. My friends LoJo and Koolaider are experts and taunting a room so all of a sudden. You’re in a great groove and then BAM! Comedy music. Everyone scrambles to find all their Weird Al or Doctor Demento tunes. The more odd, the better. And then BAM someone else plays 8-bit game music. Everyone is arranging their playlist to play all their video game music. I’ve had a room going where everyone started playing Sci-fi/Fantasy TV & movie themes.

Which brings us to the chat feature. When these amazing things happen, it gets everyone talking and sharing about their musical loves. The chat supports URL links, so you can easily link people to Wikipedia or band websites. The way this all happens is what I love about working in community. Bringing people together, sharing something wonderful and supporting others in being awesome.

I have a story from last night. On Friday night, when I am around, I host the Disco/Funk Love room, which is full of 70s/80s disco and fun. Last night, it was almost all funk, based on the folks who showed up. When I opened the room, I instantly had someone pop in. It was a young girl, who was absolutely excited that I was playing music. She’s new to all the funk from the 70s/80s and commented, “I wish my parents listened to this instead of NPR all the time.”. She talked about bands she had discovered and that this music was perfect for jamming before she headed out to a birthday party.

My pal Koolaider dropped by, to join in. We played heaps of great tunes and gave her lots of band/song names. She stayed around longer than I thought she would. I think she was happy to have adults take her seriously, which is something hard for teens at times. Being young doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer in conversation & interests. I hope she had a great time an comes back again. Maybe it’s just that people who come for the funk are happy to hear it, but we were sharing the musical love last night.

I do have a few criticisms, however. First, that this beta is US only. Okay, I can be bummed, but I understand that. I’m sure there are reasons for it and since it is their dollars, I play by their rules.

I don’t like that there is a “lame” button. Rather, not that it is there, but that it is called “Lame”. I would rather it simply said “Dislike” or “Skip”. My wee pedantic bit about word usage, dontcha know. I also wish that you could edit your room better. As example, my regular room, Dani’s Mix has a requirement that you have at least 5 points before you can be a DJ. My Gods & Heroes channel for my game’s community is open to anyone. I have a lot of IRL pals drop by, and I’d love to add them up. To do that, I would have to adjust the rules for my room. I can’t. I would also like to be able to delete rooms I create. And lastly, I’d love to be able to sort my playlist by music style. These may be features upcoming; people have been requesting them enough in their community.

All in all, I love Turntable.FM. I’m going to get back to my room full of IRL pals. Who are talking about Twilight. HALP?

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