Turntable.fm Reveals iPhone App, Music-Industry Heavy Hitters Behind Funding
Turntable.fm Reveals iPhone App, Music-Industry Heavy Hitters Behind Funding

Does Turntable.fm Live up to the Hype?
-- Is Turntable.fm really the next big thing or just tech writers' latest love interest?

If you read a fair number of music and technology blogs, you've probably run across Turntable.fm. It's been called everything from addictive to a Pandora killer. And once MediaMemo's Peter Kafka wrote a lengthy post about it last week, those who hadn't yet chimed in yet immediately commenced with the gushing.

The site is in private beta, so you can get in only if you have a Facebook friend who has been admitted. Users are given a list of virtual rooms they can enter to hear DJs (up to five other Turntable.fm users) playing songs of a specific nature (one room currently on the main page is titled "Coding Soundtrack" and is playing a high energy dance song). The five DJs stand on stage behind their turntables and face the crowd of avatars representing users who have entered the room. All in all, it's a very fresh take on streaming music.

My guess is Turntable.fm will either be a big success or a flash in the pan. It's too good to occupy the mediocre middle that has ensnared so many of its peers. But because it's not even out of closed beta, it's early enough that either legal problems or copycat services will stamp it out.

So what's so good about it? Well, many people find it to be addictive. I would prefer to use the words "clever" and "fun." Just how addictive it is depends on your predilection to use chat rooms. If you aren't actively chatting with other users who have congregated in one of Turntable.fm's many rooms to listen to the DJs play songs, there's not much to do other than open a new browser and spend time elsewhere.

In fact, Turntable.fm's chat function could do more harm than good. Rooms with very specific genres will get the kind of loyal followers who make Jack Black in "High Fidelity" look unopinionated and polite. Chats will turn into pissing matches regarding the minutiae of whatever artist or genres are playing. It's not the sort of environment a mainstream music fan wants to enter.

OK, Turntable.fm is good. But is it the Pandora killer some pundits have called it? No, I don't think so. The two services occupy different spaces in the digital music marketplace. As its executives hammered home last week in its IPO-related interviews, Pandora is a radio service that allows for Internet radio (read: passive listening). Not only Pandora passive, it's an experience built around an individual. No chat rooms. No social features. Just music that you want to hear.

In the end, Turntable.fm will probably be hampered due to the fact that the market for passive listening - and the number of listener hours they command - is bigger than the market for services that require active participation. Turntable.fm certainly allows for passive listening, but that's not its strength.
It's definitely engaging - and stands to get more engaging in the future as more people use it. It's well built for social networking era. It has pretty much created its own category of music service. And as long as people are actively engaged, Turntable.fm will have ample opportunities for sponsors and advertisers.

(Readers: What do you think of Turntable.fm? Sound off in the comments below ... )

Vevo Teams With AOL Music for 'Sessions +1'
-- Vevo has partnered with AOL Music to distribute AOL's new "Sessions +1" series on the Vevo platform (Vevo.com, mobile and tablet apps, connected TV apps and syndication partners). A new take on the "Sessions" programming, "Sessions +1" will feature live performances from AOL's studios and other locations. It will include "surprise performance elements like never-before-performed songs, acoustic sets, special guest performers, cover songs, or live premieres of entire albums," according to the press release.

The first "Sessions +1" is Alicia Keys live from the Beacon Theater in New York City. The event, "Piano & I: A One Night Only Event With Alicia Keys" at 9:30pm Thursday, June 30, will feature Keys performing her debut album, "Songs in A Minor." The live stream will be broadcast at AOL Music's "Sessions" page and the archived performance will be available on-demand at both AOL Music and Vevo. (Press release)

People Will Pay for Streaming Music, Survey Suggests
-- Here's yet another survey that has found that young consumers are willing to pay for streaming music. This one was conducted in June by research firm Norstat on behalf of music service WiMP and found that 73% of young Swedes and 65% of young Norwegians claim to be willing to pay for a streaming music service. To be sure, those are encouraging numbers.

But the survey results beg the question: Why aren't they paying for streaming music? After all, these are two countries with significant options available. In Sweden, Spotify has been partnering with Telia, the country's largest mobile operator and ISP, since November 2009 to bundle Spotify's premium service with some mobile and Internet offerings. Competing service WiMP is distributed in both Sweden and Norway by Telenor and by Canal Digital (to its TV subscribers) in Norway.

One explanation is that some consumers might already be indirectly paying for streaming music. During in the promotional period of a phone/Spotify bundle, for example, the subscription would feel free even though Spotify is being compensated by the mobile operator. Beyond the promotional period, consumers have to foot the bill.

Or maybe it's just that consumers need the right incentive or billing solution. One indication that consumers will pay comes from Aspiro Music, the company behind the music service. The company announced Monday that WiMP has surpassed 300,000 paying customers and over 100,000 customers from Canal Digital alone. Canal Digital has about 3 million customers and the partnership with Aspiro started in February. So Canal Digital got 100,000 paying WiMP subscribers in Norway in just a few months. Not bad. ( Telecom.paper)

No More $10 Tickets at PNC Bank Arts Center
-- Why did Live Nation choose not to sell $10 tickets for amphitheater shows at PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey, as it did last year? "In the long term it's just bad for business because it causes people to wait for a deep discount," explained Live Nation VP of Marketing Jim Steen. ( Little Silver-Oceanport Patch)