Turntable.fm Showing How Sharing Music Is Communication
from the the-shared-experience-is-what-makes-culture dept
It doesn’t matter if you start a room with some nearby cubicle mates or with friends scattered across the globe: what you begin to realize — almost instantly — is that taking turns playing music with friends is a kind of communication. One song leads to another. Music, enjoyable in and of itself, becomes a sort of shorthand when played among people who have shared memories attached to it. Someone plays a song that was popular when you were college, then another friend plays another song from that same period and — just like that — you’ve traveled back in time. It’s like you’re all sharing in the same inside joke.Later, he notes: "When your old college roommate surprises you with that Deee-Lite song the two of you used to rock out to, you know it’s more than just music: it’s a message."
And this feeling is reflected not just in the choice of songs, but in the comments that friends post. Someone digs a lost hit out of the crates and the message board lights up with comments from friends (O.K., my friends) saying things like “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “my head is exploding.”
Using Turntable can even help you make friends with people you only know in passing. If you’re D.J.-ing in a room with co-workers, you may never have realized that you and the guy across the floor both like Afropop. Now you have something new to talk about at the soda machine.
Indeed. After writing my original post on Turntable.fm and how it reminded me of hanging out and DJing with a group of others -- people who I was close friends with at the time, but have mostly lost contact with -- I reached out to many of my former co-DJs to talk about setting up a "reunion" via Turntable.fm. It's hard to use Turntable.fm and not recognize that sharing music is a very legitimate form of communication.
In many ways, it's a further manifestation of a point about culture that Julian Sanchez raised a couple years ago, about how culture is built off of shared cultural experiences. It's the sharing part of culture that makes the culture valuable. If only you experience it, it just doesn't have the same power. Turntable.fm's key reason for being so addictive is that it's one of the first operations, whether on purpose or not, that has effectively taken that key aspect of culture, and turned it into a service.
However, separate from just how Turntable.fm highlights this key point, I think it also helps explain why the legacy recording industry and many politicians have made so many wrong and counterproductive moves concerning dealing with music in the internet era. Rather than realizing that music is communication, they look at it solely as a unit of content. When you view music as a unit of content, even as the fans of music actually view it as a form of communication, you're going to clash. That's because many of the ways that people communicate via music break down the concept of music being a unit of content. And, in the end, that's what a lot of the legal and policy battles have been about over the past couple decades. A very large group of people are communicating with music... and some big legacy players are simply not set up to even comprehend that, let alone cater to it.