"Live": Turntable.fm Goes From Zero To Woodstock '99 At #VIPFest
Hipster Runoff, Gorilla vs. Bear, Diplo Turntable.fm Monday, June 27
Better than: Listening to your friends DJ on turntable.fm.
Turntable.fm is a newish "social DJing" site that basically brings the chat-room concept to the world of online radio stations. DJs can congregate in rooms and add their favorite tracks to a queue, and listeners can chat and rate the songs that spin into their orbit as either "lame" or "awesome"; if a song gets too much negative feedback, the DJ responsible for playing it will be skipped.
The site is still in beta mode; only people whose Facebook friends are already using it are allowed inside. This exclusivity (or "exclusivity") prompted Gorilla vs. Bear and Hipster Runoff to throw a virtual festival on the servicecalled, naturally, #VIPFest, and starring Diplo, Pitchfork head Ryan Schreiber, Hipster Runoff's "Carles," and a bunch of online rubberneckers.
When I tuned in, Carles was spinning a three-hour monologue that he'd recorded in preparation for the event. His rant made extensive use of turntable.fm's chat feature, asking the audience relevant questions like "What's your favorite sex position?" and "What's the best buzz band?" As his speech dissolved into a looping clip about homosexuality, the audience revolted and voted him off seemingly unanimously.
Diplo then took the "stage" to play a new Major Lazer track; the overall reaction was negative, and he was booted from the stage after only a minute or so. After some heated tweeting, he was allowed back inand he played a second Major Lazer song that at first had a "Pon de Floor"-like beat, then dropped into a syncopated synth thing that seemed undanceable on first listen. It got a similarly unenthusiastic reception from the anonymous crowd.
After Diplo's exit, the entire event took a turn for the worse; think Woodstock '99, but without things actually being set aflame. The power struggle played out like this: As soon as a song started, the audience would declare it "lame"; then the next song would start, only to receive the same treatment.
As a number of kids posing to be demographically appropriate celebrities (members of Odd Future, Joanna Newsom) battled for the right to DJ, the event dwindled into nothingness. But it did raise a few questions about the future of music: Is the online music festival ever going to be a viable event? Can turntable.fm figure out a way to prevent kids with musical ADD from giving everyone in the audience a migraine as the music constantly changes? And most importantly: Will trolls ever get tired of trolling?
Critical bias: The amount of time I spent on the site: 30 minutes, give or take.
Overheard: "Is this the new Radiohead?" (said during Diplo's set)
Random notebook dump: Apparently all of 4chan got the invite to #VIPFest.
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