Last year I set up a music blog which aimed to share a song once a day, everyday. The project was fun at first as I ploughed through my record collection for different gems to link to and write about. But, over time the site became stagnent. I came to realise that I’d set up the music blog because I loved the idea of receiving a slow trickle of new music that I would probably like. By running the blog I was trying to provide that service for other people, but, constricted by the post/comments format of blogging, I would always be broadcasting my tastes outwards, rather than getting that trickle of new music flowing in.
Turns out that, whilst I was having these thoughts, some of the ex-members of last.fm and their friends were holed up in an office in East London also having the same ideas. Late last year www.thisismyjam.com launched, and, since I’ve been a member, it has in a number of small but significant ways, changed the way in which I listen to and share music…
The premise is ridiculously simple, the interface is minimal and friendly, and the user-base, whilst still small, is devoted and passionate about music. TIMJ asks you to name song you love, it could be the ear worm that’s been knocking around your head for days, or the guilty pleasure sitting on top of your most played smartlist, or just whatever’s playing on the radio at the time. Name it and TIMJ searches for it. Nine times out of ten it finds the song somewhere online, then it sorts out the links for you, asks you to tinker with the cover art, and lets you share your ‘jam’ to facebook and twitter.
Your selected jam then sits there, proudly collecting listens and likes from other users, until seven days pass, or you find your next jam… rinse and repeat and all of a sudden you’ll be a TIMJ user.
Nice right, but the real gem on the site is the unassuming ‘playlist from people you follow button’. Once you start amassing some friends, either from twitter, facebook or by adding some of TIMJ’s suggested ‘people to follow’, you can hit one button and get treated to a potentially limitless playlist of hand-picked carefully curated tracks by friends, strangers, radio stations or even minor celebrities. The playlist is often eclectic, sometimes awful, but it is exactly what you make of it, if you like a song keep following that person, if someone links to something dire, then ditch them and find someone else to add as a friend.
The rhythm of the site is a thing of beauty too, unlike twitter, people aren’t constantly updating their jams. You can only have one song active at a time, and if you want it to get played you’ll need to leave it up for at least a few hours, and probably a few days, for everyone to get round to hearing it. After a week passes your jam expires and you’re suddenly tasked with finding something else for your listeners to wrap their ears around.
The result is a slow, human-scaled and entirely pleasurable experience that you can dip into and out of as you see fit. Most importantly of all, it works. Well, almost all of the time. Tracks stream without pauses, the search tool almost always finds the song you’re thinking of without any hassle, and sharing with other networks like twitter and facebook is easy.
I don’t head to TIMJ all the time, but, when I do, I almost always exit the site with a new song I like, or band to follow, or friend to talk to tunes about.