Turntable.fm Adds Social Element To Pandora-Style Streaming … But Can It Last?


Looking for a Pandora-style music streaming service that’s curated by your friends instead of an algorithm? Or want to help DJ your own station? That’s the idea behind turntable.fm, a startup that went viral two weeks ago. The site is open to any user who has a Facebook friend who’s a member. Join a “room” (popular ones include Coding Soundtrack and Indie While You Work), and listen to songs uploaded to the site, or selected from its database, by one of up to five “DJs,” whose songs play one at a time, consecutively by DJ.

Users hoping to play more than one song in a row, like the curated playlists of Muxtape, are out of luck, as turntable.fm is trying to position its legality in terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (as Pandora does). This is also why a user, alone in a room, can only play a thirty-second preview of a song. These measures may not be enough to protect the site from litigation, though, especially if private rooms continue to be allowed.

For now, though, there are lots of exciting possibilities. Fans are connecting with one another, and artists are connecting with fans by DJing (including Talib Kweli last night and Manchester Orchestra tonight). This can backfire, though, as it did for Diplo, the Baltimore beatmaker who most recently co-produced several tracks on Beyonc?‘s 4, including “Run the World (Girls).” Diplo is also half of Major Lazer, and last night he attempted to preview new tracks in the Hipster Runoff- and Gorilla vs. Bear-curated VIPFest room?only to be kicked out of the room by its listeners, who weren’t enjoying the new tracks, or just wanted their own opportunity to DJ. (To add insult to injury, Diplo realized only later that turntable.fm’s chat pings could be disabled, so they weren’t an effective watermark. In other words, he’d leaked his own tracks.)

The VIPFest room was “private,” but like all “private” rooms, can be joined by anyone with the room name, so it wasn’t any help in preventing mayhem. The interactive elements could prove to be the site’s undoing. For example, right now a user named “CheetoFingaz AKA gLITTERd–K” keeps rejoining the “Coding Soundtrack” room and interrupting the (mostly dull) electronica with (mostly abrasive, if well-chosen) southern rap, for as long as it takes to get banned from the room by the other users, then immediately rejoining and trying again.

Have you tried turntable.fm? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments!

Turntable.fm: Yep, It?s Totally Viral. But Is This ?Alive Web? Burning Users Out? [BetaBeat/NYO]
“Live”: Turntable.fm Goes From Zero To Woodstock ’99 At #VIPFest [Sound Of The City/Village Voice]

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