I guess you’ve officially entered the mainstream whenever CNN does a story on you, right? If that’s the case, then Turntable.fm has officially entered the mainstream.
Turntable.fm has been on my radar for a couple of weeks now — I can’t recall how I first heard about it — but it seems to have just exploded in popularity in recent days. Last week in particular, I was seeing references to it all over in my feeds and even got a couple of invites to join the fun — which is basically a social media site where users are the DJs, selecting music that plays in a chat room populated by other people. DJs earn points based on the popularity of the songs they play, adding a gaming element to the whole thing on top of it all.
When you stop and think about it, the concept is kind of brilliant, since everybody thinks that they’re the person most capable of DJing at any house party or on any road trip. There’s also that element of thrill one gets when introducing someone to new music that resonates with them for one reason or another. It’s sort of marvel that this didn’t already exist, actually.
Further, it’s pretty damn addicting. I finally broke down and messed around with it over the weekend and literally had to force myself to get off of my computer and go outside. Great, another way for me to waste time on the Internet. I might as well give up on ever getting laid again. But at least I’ll have fun not getting laid, so there’s that.
It works like this: Through a deal with digital music provider, up to five people can take turns streaming just about any song in the known universe, for free, for the others in the room. If the song you want to play isn’t available in the database, you can upload an mp3 of it from your computer. You can also “follow” and chat with other users. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that’s because it might be.
Yes, it may not be legal, actually. In fact, one of my first questions about this site was how in the hell did they convince notoriously anti-forward thinking music industry execs to go along with allowing their songs to be used for free? Well, turns out they didn’t. Uh oh.
Writes All Things D’s Peter Kafka:
The start-up doesn’t have deals in place with any labels or publishers.
[Record-scratch sound here.]
This doesn’t mean that Turntable.fm is illegal. The company believes it’s obeying the law, and it might be right. But this thing has gotten so buzzy, so fast, that it’s going to be hard for the label lawyers to stay away.
Um, yeah. With the industry even pushing for lawmakers to make YouTube covers copyright violations, I have a hard time thinking that they’re going to let this one slip by. Still, the company followed Pandora’s lead and banned international users over licensing concerns, but I seriously doubt that’s going to keep music industry legal sharks at bay.
Still, I have a feeling that it’ll get shut down and we’ll have to revert back to the same old, boring pre-Turntable.fm Internet. What will we ever do to amuse ourselves then?