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Turntable.fm Review: Free Social Radio App for Mobile Phones and Desktops

Turntable.fm Makes Streaming Radio Social

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Turntable.fm on iphone

Turntable.fm on iphone

by Les Walker

Turntable.fm is a group listening radio service whose tag line is "play music together." Like a ton of competitors, Turntable.fm attempts to make mobile Internet radio more social by providing new ways to connect with friends and share music on the go.

Turntable has been available as a free app for the iPhone since the summer of 2011, and it launched the Turntable Android mobile phone version in May 2012. Turntable also offers a popular desktop group listening service that's similar in design to both mobile apps.

How Turntable Makes Music Social

Turntable.com debuted in May 2011 as a social streaming radio service on the desktop and quickly drew accolades for its group music features, which amount to a collaborative DJ experience.

While the iPhone app got lots of publicity when it launched in summer 2011, Turntable.fm has since faced competition from newer apps that have been copying its mobile DJ and other social networking features. Turntable released its Android app in May 2012 and it has proven popular, which might help Turntable build an audience.

One way Turntable attempts to make the group music experience fun is by representing users as avatars in listening rooms. Another way is by offering various DJ functions, both individualized and collaborative.

It tries to turn the whole experience into a game with a voting mechanism in which listeners click "Lame" or "Awesome" for songs being played, which confers points to the DC who played them. A rock meter the bottom of the screen shows how well a song is doing. DJs with more points get better avatars.

Each listening room has up to five simultaneous DJs, which can be you or someone else. Music selections can come from either Turntable's library of licensed songs or your own songs stored on your computer or mobile phone. Turntable offers group chat inside the listening rooms, so the social experience can be defined however listeners want. People can take walks down memory lane by playing oldies and commenting on what they were doing back in the day, or play new music and tell friends what they find appealing (or annoying.) The possibilities are unlimited.

Integrating with Facebook and Twitter

Turntable.fm Facebook sharing menu

Les Walker

Turntable.fm is integrated with Facebook so that if you sign in with Facebook, you'll be sharing your turntable music activities on your Facebook timeline.

You can, however, choose to only share your Turntable activities with yourself. That means your friends won't see Turntable notices on your timeline but you can still use Facebook as your Turntable login. You will be presented with the Facebook sharing option menu when you first sign on from your mobile phone; be sure to click the down arrow next to the people icon and change the default share-with-friends option to "only me" by clicking on that option. Activities the Turntable app shares on Facebook includes radio stations you join and which songs you play.

The app also can integrate with Twitter--if you sign in using your Twitter account, it will be able to see who you follow but it won't be able to post Tweets about you or follow anyone automatically. (If you want an innovative audio version of Twitter, check out the Social Radio app, which reads tweets from your Twitter timeline out loud with music in your background on your mobile phone.

Turntable.fm Review: Bottom Line

All in All, Turntable is a fun social music app, with a good looking, intuitive interface. Its likelihood of success largely depends largely on network effects, which means it faces major momentum challenges in the early going.

It will be a lot more fun if your friends use it, too, so some people may sign up and then quit using it when they find few people and fewer friends are actually in those listening rooms. But the app itself is high quality.

Other Forms of Social Radio

Social music services are one of the hottest category of apps on cell phones these days, as this guide to mobile music social networks explains.

If you're not much into group chat rooms for music, Spreaker represents a different kind of social radio. It offers a DJ console for online music mixing but is really a next-generation podcasting platform. Its tagline is "Talk to the world" because it invites you to talk into your phone to broadcast anything live and will also record it for others to play back later.

Spreaker is available for iPhones and Android; it offers a variety of free and premium subscription versions.

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