Scott Creney

Turntable.fm – A New Way to Experience Music

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Turntable Lou Reed

Anyway, the whole thing is insanely fun. It’s a genius tool for discovering music. One friend of mine, a former college radio DJ who’s spent the last 15 years hating everything in sight, says she’s fallen in love with music again. A guy in town runs a record label and says he’s seen a huge spike in sales, both digital & mail-order, over the last couple of weeks. If it isn’t Turntable, then what is it?

And if you like what you hear, you can just click between the speakers to open the song in Amazon, iTunes, Lastfm, Spotify, or Rdio. You can buy it right then and there in a separate window, while the song continues to play on Turntable.

So Turntable is fun, Turntable is popular. Turntable might be the future of music.

But is it legal? Turntable says they abide by the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which says they cannot play more than three songs from one album, or four songs from the same artist in a three hour period. As a result, a song on your playlist might get skipped in order to comply with RIAA. So no problem, right? Well, as we all know, record companies hate stuff happening without their permission, or without being in control of it. And the RIAA tends to sue first, think later. Which, considering Turntable doesn’t have any direct licensing deals with the labels, puts them on potentially thin ice.

And that’s a damn shame, because Turntable is the best chance those record labels have of ever making money again. With hundreds of thousands of people hanging out on the internet making friends and discovering new music, this could change the way we are exposed to new music. And I’m not the only one who’s figured this out. Already, there’s rooms for KCRW (a radio station), CokeMachineGlow (a website), and Merge Records (the label who brought you Arcade Fire … and Beatnik Filmstars). But you know what? There’s usually only about 5-10 people in those rooms. [By the way, Radio Birdman was playing in the Columbia Records room. Thought you might like to know – Australian Relations Dept.] It seems that, for now, Turntable users are more interested in listening to each other than listening to any kind of authority.

Just ask famed record producer Diplo, who, according to an account on This Is My Next, went into a special room created by Gorilla vs. Bear to preview some tracks a couple of weeks ago. Also DJ-ing were Ryan Schreiber from Pitchfork and Carles from Hipster Runoff. Diplo got heckled so badly that he eventually had to leave. Then people changed the names of their avatars to things like ‘Lady Gaga’ or ‘Joanna Newsom’ to mock the whole celebrity atmosphere.

Still, it isn’t hard to imagine special rooms being set up in the future, by artists, publicity agents, or record companies, in order to promote their product. And it isn’t hard to imagine these same people hiring interns to go into rooms and play songs by their up and coming artists. In short, it isn’t hard to imagine people scrambling furiously to figure out how to make some money off of this. It’s the nature of capitalism. But even at its corrupted worst, it would be difficult for Turntable to be any worse than radio.

Who knows? Maybe someday there will be restaurants, bars, coffee shops that have their own private Turntable rooms for customers only. We will sit in these rooms and get know each other. It will be loads of fun; it will be agonizing. It will be just like real life, only with a better soundtrack.

But this isn’t going away. It’s simply too good of an idea, and people are enjoying it this much. I mean, when was the last time you recorded yourself listening to the radio and put it up on the internet?

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