In the past 4 months or so, Social Music has been at the forefront of my day. Honestly, most of it is spent in TurnTable.fm, and with good reason!
The latest wave in music apps have focused on organizing and playing music in the cloud, detaching us the tethers of the wire as well as introducing us to music we have never heard. For all you iTunes fanboys out there, this is serious competition. Gone may be the days of “syncing” your iPod to your PC. (and having to erase and restore all your device data if you reformat your PC.)
I only recently got an invite into Spotify and was disappointed to find out I have to pay to use it on my mobile device. Kind of lame, and is the primary reason why I don’t use it. What is nice is that it imports your current music and playlists from Windows Media Player, iTunes, and other devices. It also will allow you to add your Facebook “friends” which at the moment I only have 7 of the 300+ friends I have showing since Spotify is relatively unknown in the USA. What has come from those friends? Nothing much, apparently though you can “send” friends songs you like, and even make your playlists searchable. The problem I see with this is that its too much “me go to you” type of social networking. If you want to expand your music library you have to have the music come to you, Pandora taught us this and is a clear example.
Overall though, Spotify is kind of boring, other than looking up some songs and making a playlist, in terms of music discovery its just not intuitive or easy to get into. If you know what you like, its a good alternative for PC music listening, and if you want to pay for the mobile app, its a great alternative to Pandora since it lets you control the songs that are played. Perhaps its just me, maybe I haven’t looked deep enough into all the features of Spotify, but nowadays adoption rate is clearly based off of how simple you can make the navigation and features. I consider myself a power user, and if I find Spotify boring, and I am missing some “key” features, then they need some work making them more apparent.
My Google Music Invite finally went through and I must say I am happy with it. I downloaded the client and over the course of a few days it uploaded all 6000 songs into my Google Music account and it synced flawlessly with my Android phone. The only problem I had is that it tried to use my full upload at first and KILLED my bandwidth (I work from home, this is bad) and the bottleneck wouldn’t stop without saving the setting then killing the app to restart it. I can see this causing a panic with some users who may think they just downloaded a virus, or call their ISP complaining. Not to mention, with bandwidth caps today, users should be notified that this is going to use a serious amount of upload (Bandwidth caps pool Upload and Download btw, just ask your data provider.) Google Music is nothing fancy, just a wireless way of keeping your music organized, and best of all, safe. A must have app for audiophiles and those with a large music library.
Even though I grouped Google Music into Social Music, its not exactly Social. I only grouped it because it was released around the same time Spotify and Turntable where. Google Music is part of Google’s attempt to move everything to the Cloud and have all your devices sync wirelessly. I am sure Google Music and Google+ will get some sort of neat integration in the near future turning it into a social music platform of sorts.
When it comes to “music coming to you”, TurnTable.fm stands Pandora on its head and gives it a spanking. Wouldn’t you be interested in what other people with similar interests enjoy and are listening to, than what a computer algorithm thinks is relevant to your previously listened song? I am sure we have all had the experience on Pandora, where you end up listening to an entirely different Genre of songs just because some random trumpet was in your dance electro station.
Turntable is different, you hop into a room with 5 DJ’s, real PEOPLE, playing music from their own playlists. You can search and pick music from a huge library that is constantly growing because…you can upload your own tracks! This is an amazing way for upcoming musicians to spread their own music without having to resort to YouTube and random searches!
I have discovered tons of awesome music on Turntable I would have never tried listening to, just because I am in the room either DJing or spectating with hundreds of others to the same songs. You can rate songs that are awesome and give the DJ points, or lame them down and make it skip to the next song. You even get rewards for getting points, allowing you to have different “avatars” and reward good DJing. Your avatar becomes a status symbol as to how awesome your music taste is, which normally gives you a DJ spot almost immediately if you have a rare enough avatar. The community is amazing, many sites and extensions have been written specifically for Turntable such as Turntable Dashboard which is a stats site for the most popular rooms.
TurnTable is a “Crowd Sourced DJ”.
When you like a song, it also gives you the ability to add it to your own DJ queue, buy the song on Amazon or iTunes, add it on Spotify, last.fm, or rdio, which is great advertisement for music producers. My disappointment with Spotify comes from not being able to find every track in Spotify to make a playlist of songs I like.
There are some negatives. Sometimes idiots get on the DJ table, playing the wrong kind of music for some rooms, and there are not enough people paying attention to lame them out. There are also a couple of flash related issues that are constantly being worked on (It is in Beta after all). You can’t get into Turntable unless someone you know on Facebook is in, so the limited amount of people using it gives it an interesting feel, sort of like Google+ as it is invite only also. Playlist management is also rudimentary, you only have one playlist, so if you want to make more than one you have to install a Google Chrome extension, which doesnt always work that well (my extra lists kept disappearing.) The last negative is that there is no mobile app…yet. I heard there is one in the makes.
Sounds like a lot of negatives for Turntable huh? But the experience is exhilarating, I recommend everyone give it a try. Even with its flaws its by far the most fun I have had online with music.
The future of Social Music looks bright, as long as the RIAA or some other legal crap doesn’t come around and shut these things down. I am very happy with the way people have been opening up channels to get things shared around the world. There is still money to be made in every industry but distribution methods have to change, and the direction in which they are changing is astounding and, I think, wonderful. It finally feels like some companies and developers are trying keep up, if not meet the expectations of a public that is being molded by greater and free access to global information and the adoption of new technologies.
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