Current hot start-up of the moment Turntable.fm has a lot going for it. It’s sharing the ultra-hot music space with buzzworthy ventures such as Spotify and Google Music, it has a velvet rope closed beta, which makes people want to get in even more, and it has plenty of social media features.
But there’s one part of the Turntable.fm experience that really stood out to us, beyond the obvious setup of joining a chatroom with like-minded music fans and playing DJ for them (that’s the basic premise of the site, just in case it slipped under your radar). There’s an entire level of gamification built into the site, which controls certain on-site privileges and acts as a incentive to play songs your audience will want to hear.
The first layer is DJ points. Turntable.fm describes the process of obtaining these points as follows: “You get DJ points when someone in the crowd 'awesomes' a song that you are playing. If someone clicks the lame button while you are playing you won't loose points but your song might get skipped.” The Awesome and Lame buttons mentioned are present at the bottom of the screen during each song, and every listener can vote once per song.
These points accumulate over time, and at the moment are primarily used for unlocking new on-screen avatars. If you have 0-99 points, you can choose from the most basic set of avatars, 100-299 points for the next set, and so on. The highest level currently available is 10,000 points, but we have yet to see anyone using those high-end avatars on the site.
A secondary point system is the fan system. If you like a particular DJ, you can sign up as a fan of him or her, and even receive an email alert when they log on to play. On the Turntable.fm site there’s not much you can do with a big fan base at the moment (nor can you see who specifically has become your fan), but that doesn’t mean this data isn’t used somewhere.
For that, turn to ttdashboard.com, a site that tracks data from Turntable.fm and presents it in a variety of ways. There you can see the list of DJs with the most fans (comic book writer Neil Gaiman is currently ranked number two), as well as those with the most points, and even the most popular songs. Interestingly, ttdashboard.com is bascially a hack, as Turntable.fm has not yet released any kind of API or other method for tracking data from the site.
Other current music projects, from Spotify to Apple’s iCloud to the Amazon Music Cloud, all lack any kind of even semi-serious gamification element. The point systems in Turntable.fm aren’t the only (or even main) reason it has become a cult hit with over 300,000 estimated beta users, but adding this kind of engaging side content gives us an extra reason to keep going back for more.