Turntable.fm, the social music service that reached sudden popularity in the summer of 2011, will shut down on Dec. 2. Announcing the decision Friday at its blog, Turntable explained shutting down the streaming service would allow it to focus on its new live platform, Turntable Live.
The New York-based startup had a brief yet impactful run. Music fans immediately fell in love with the fun, social streaming service. Union Square Ventures invested $7.5 million. Billboard named Turntable.fm the top music startup of 2011. By March 2012 the company had licensing deals with all four majors.
But listeners' love affair was short-lived. By early 2012, Turntable.fm's traffic had fallen considerably. Consumers had an increasing number of alternatives, from Spotify -- launched when Turntable.fm was exploding in popularity -- to a variety of Internet radio services.
In November 2012, investor Fred Wilson hinted at the early troubles Turntable.fm was experiencing during his keynote Q&A at Billboard's FutureSound Conference in San Francisco. After launching, the site struck licensing deals in the U.S. but had had to shut out international users until licensing deals were completed in other markets.
Wilson said usage of Turntable.fm dropped by two-thirds when it cut off usage outside of U.S. "The service has never been the same since,” he said. “That's the kind of stuff that makes being an entrepreneur in the sector difficult."
Turntable decided to kill one service in hopes another might live. Now the emphasis is on Turntable Live, a platform for streaming and monetizing live performance that launched in September. So far Turntable Live has hosted 11 concerts from its office rather than offer a do-it-yourself platform in the vein of StageIt. The company has already proven it can attract fans. A live stream by Knife Party attracted over 20,000 people to Turntable.fm, suggesting Turntable Live could be the right business model at the right time.