I’ve lamented in a past blog entry about how some ska/rocksteady/reggae bands and labels have yet to jump into digital distribution. Jamaican music itself is already a niche genre of music, and I feel that bands and labels have to work extra harder to get their music out there to the mass. Ignoring digital distribution is to be frank, a stupid move and will just slowly kill the music. Being elitist about staying “true to the roots” of releasing and distributing Jamaican music does nothing to draw in new fans in a genre that so desperately needs new blood. (I would also argue that staying true to the roots is better served in the MUSIC, rather than the method of distributing it).

But digital distribution is so…Web 1.0…so old and archaic! Itunes is just a legal version of what we were all doing in the late 90s with Napster! Napster started in 1999…over a decade ago, and in the world of the internet and technology, a decade ago is more like two lifetimes ago. We’re already well into Web 2.0 (social!), and some are even claiming that we’re entering the era of Web 3.0 (cloud based computing!).

But what does this have to do with anything ska, rocksteady, or reggae?

Hang on, I’m getting to that.

Enter Turntable.fm, a new website that’s sure to be your next addiction. What exactly is it? Think of it as a chatroom for music. Or even better, maybe a Twitter for music. Users can create rooms and up to 5 users can “DJ” for any number of people in that particular room. You can choose music from Turntable’s database, or you can upload your own music, which is accessible by you and ONLY you (to prevent piracy issues), and the “DJs” take turn playing music off their playlist for all those in the room to hear. Users can either “like” or “dislike” a song that’s currently playing, and there’s a meter to measure their response. Get enough dislikes, and your song will be skipped, get enough “likes” and you earn points and inflate your ego.

That’s it. That’s the idea. A group of people playing music off their playlist for another group of people. Such a simple idea that it’s a wonder that it hasn’t been thought of…earlier.

The thing is, Turntable.fm is super addictive. You either want to continue staying in the room to play YOUR song, or you want to hear what the next “DJ” has to play. I’ve spent all evenings doing NOTHING but playing around Turntable, and while not all the music people play are good…you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of a lot of new music.

Turntable.fm can be a good thing for the ska/rocksteady/reggae scene For bands (and labels), it’s yet a another way to showcase your music and interact (pretty directly, I might add) directly with your fanbase and listeners. It’s a way to showcase your music without giving it away for free, and if your music is on Itunes, listeners can also easily buy your music if they like what they hear.

For fans, it’s a new way to discover new tunes, or maybe rediscover the classics. All without having to resort to piracy.

Either way, Turntable.fm presents an interesting way to draw in new fans for a genre that could use some new blood.

Music, especially Jamaican music, has always been a social event at its core. And in a way, Turntable.fm allows people like you and me to mimic what the Jamaican DJs did in the 50s and 60s: Just a couple of music fans spinning music for fans of music. With social media avenues like Turntable.fm, Twitter, and Facebook, bands and fans of Jamaican music alike have new ways to interact and connect with each other.

How to join Turntable.fm: Right now, Turntable.fm is in it’s beta phase and you need an invite to be able to join this program. But have no fear….getting an invite is as easy as being our friend! If you’re friends of The Pressure Drop Soundcast on Facebook, you’ll automatically get an invite. It’s that easy! You’re that special! You can find me usually in the Jamaican Archives room!

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