Console.fm, with its emphasis on electronic music, might be a better fit for some people's social music experience.
Social music site Turntable.fm came out of nowhere this summer to become one of the year's most talked about music services. The mix of social features and music discovery even has some critics placing Turntable.fm in the league of more established services like Pandora and Spotify. Although it has a long way to go, Tuesday's news that Turntable.fm landed a $7.5 million investment from Union Square Ventures suggests the buzz is more than credible.
But if you're looking for a break from Turntable.fm or would like to check out some alternatives, a handful of new services are currently online. Most require just a Facebook login to get started and all can be a great way to share or discover music. From the low-key nature of Listening Room to the dance music-heavy Console.fm, music fans certaintly have good options these days.
Since the big question surrounding Turntable.fm has been its legal status, it's worth taking a look at how these other services have been built. Listening Room has gone to great lengths to meet the DMCA's requirements of noninteractive services, as Billboard noted last month. Console.fm uses tracks marked for public sharing at SoundCloud. Rolling appears to follow the measures taken by Turntable.fm to meet the definition of a noninteractive webcaster. Outloud.fm has one red flag: users are able to see the order of upcoming songs in the queue, which violate one of the requirements placed on noninteractive services.
Listening Room is more intimate and stripped down; less avatars with mice heads or clad in ape costumes.
If Turntable.fm is an open party, Listening Room is an intimate gathering of friends. Created by Abe Fettig, a Portland, Maine-based Web programmer, Listening Room allows users to create rooms, upload songs into a DJ queue and chat online. But Listening Room is more stripped down than Turntable.fm. There are no avatars and the site more resembles a blog than a music service. Adding to its low-key nature is the way listeners enter a room. Because Listening Room does not offer visitors a list of all rooms, users have three options: get invited to a listening room, create their own listening room or hope another room is utilizing the service's do-it-yourself advertising system.
Basically a Turntable.fm clone, Rolling.fm was created by former Google software engineer Tim Zhou. Rolling mimics Turntable.fm in appearance, how rooms are created and joined to how songs are selected (like Turntable.fm, Rolling uses a MediaNet library and allows songs to be uploaded). Judging from names of rooms - "NYU!," "UCSD," "Temple University" - the service is targeting the college crowd. There are some small, cosmetic differences, however. Rolling DJs share a single laptop whereas Turntable.fm DJs each have their own turntable. Rolling avatars face away from the stage so you can see their faces - they stand the opposite direction at Turntable.fm. And Rolling features a cat on top of a stack of speakers.
Outloud.fm allows users to play tracks from Soundcloud.
Outloud.fm differs from its peers in one important way: in addition to playing tracks uploaded by users, Outloud.fm plays tracks selected from cloud-based music sharing service SoundCloud. Users can create their own rooms or enter a public room where anybody can add songs to the queue. It's quite a bare-bones affair. There are no avatars or catchy graphics, but the rooms do allow users to chat and rate songs as favorites.
Although it's not quite the social music experience of Turntable.fm, Console.fm is certainly a different kind of music streaming site. Founded "to find the best electronic music," according to the site's founers, Console.fm is a slick, easy-to-use product offering channels with different types of electronic music. Users simply choose a channel - trance, house, minimal or chill out, for example - and Console.fm creates a playlist of dozens of tracks. Unlike the rigidity of Internet radio, Console.fm allows users to skip from one song to another. The service pulls songs from SoundCloud, which has an open API for third-party developers and allows songs not marked "private" by the user to be streamed royalty-free through third-party widgets or the API.