Let's be real here for a second, I've been practicing and perfecting social distancing well before governments began mandating it in 2020. Some of you may even know that this very blog was founded as an online watch party and community on a service called plug.dj. Over time, that community of close knit international folk with a shared enthusiasm for alternative pop music, encouraged me to expand on the brand and curation style I had crafted using the service. In September of 2012, I created a website for FRINGE MUSIC FIX. It has now grown into a daily passion project and a way to organize my favourite music videos and new artist discoveries. We even have a couple thousand fans! While most of those friendships from the plug.dj days have now faded with time, plug.dj still exists. Unfortunately the service has seen better days after a series of shutdowns and exchanges of ownership. Turntable.fm has ceased to operate - but a fundraiser has recently been started to bring it back. Let's get to the point here here though, aside from basic platform similarities, I'm not here to talk about plug.dj or it's predecessor, turntable.fm. I'm here to introduce you to a relatively new service which seems to have been created some time around 2016, but has only recently dropped onto my radar while searching for new ways to watch music videos on the web. Without further hesitation, here are some excellent reasons to check out BeatSense and start partying live with folks all without leaving the comfort of your own bed, couch or desk.
BeatSense is a social music service that invites users to join chat rooms called BeatRooms. Users join rooms, chat, and watch music videos or listen to tracks together. Songs are hosted on YouTube. Upon playing, users can vote on how much they love the track, subsequently influencing it's room chart rank and whether or not the song will play to completion. Music can also be collected by users in "cases" which can be used later when you take a turn on the booth. Some rooms have a public booth where anyone can take turns picking music. Other rooms lock the booth and have designated DJs assigned to keep the party moving. Users without accounts can only spectate in rooms and cannot interact in the chat or in choosing songs. Click here to see what's going on in our BeatRoom right now. Creating a free account lets you participate in the fun and even create a BeatRoom of your very own. If this sounds a bit confusing - try joining a room with some folks and it's almost a sure thing someone will be there to walk you through things. Additionally there is a SENSE button in the bottom right hand corner of the site which will call up a support agent who can help you out with questions or suggestions. BeatSense currently works on desktop browsers and also has a fully functional Android app available for free in the Play store.
Besides the familiar functionality seen with plug.dj & turntable.fm of playing videos, chatting, and voting - BeatSense offers a slew of features never seen before in similar services. Some of my favourites include song stats, lyrics, seamless crossfades between tracks, voting comments which pop up over the video (and totally remind me of VH1's Pop Up Video), playlist subscriptions, setting your mood, GIF support, room music charts, private messaging, a Safe for Work mode if you just wanna listen to music while at the office, smart curation and music playing in rooms even when no one else is around, etc.
I've been saying this since the 90s, but music videos are positively the best way to discover new music. The amalgamation of fashion, dance choreography, visual aesthetics, narrative storytelling and music has always been very close to my multi-sensory heart.
At this point of our shared pandemic, you've likely participated in online watch parties of some nature, be it Netflix TV binges or watching a movie with a friend on Disney+. These experiences can be great, but sometimes a movie or a TV series can beg for a certain degree of attention that makes multi-tasking difficult for some. Music Videos are a perfect background distraction that creates a fun and energetic atmosphere while still allowing conversations to flow seamlessly all without losing track of a plot.
While essential BeatSense functionality is FREE, they also offer a virtual currency known as Beats. Beats are collected by playing music or by donating real money (which helps in future development of the service!). Beats are not required for play, but they can be used to unlock customization such as backgrounds and functionality such as track skips and more.
As much as I've found algorithms helpful with music discovery, there will always be value in a song or music video recommended to you by someone who both knows your musical preferences and whose taste you trust. I can't think of a better way to facilitate this process than BeatSense.
All this to say that I feel like music videos are an essential part of music discovery but they are also best appreciated in a social setting. BeatSense brings all that together. I urge you to give the service a try. Let's face the harsh reality of it all, BeatSense is the best way to enjoy musical performances next to a live concert or a music festival, and you won't be going to any of those anytime soon.