The quick history on Turntable.fm is pretty scary: after an amazing summer spike in 2012, Turntable traffic utterly collapsed. And it never recovered: just last month, Turntable called it quits after desperately trying to manage mounting licensing costs.
Major labels were handsomely paid; Turntable.fm went out of business.
So was turntable.fm simply doing it wrong, or does anyone care about avatar-based, ‘gamified’ communal listening? Enter Plug.DJ, which has been bumbling in beta for more than a year, and is betting that Turntable screwed up on the execution, not the idea. And now, there’s $1.25 million in seed capital from Javelin Ventures to support that theory.
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
In those last, dying gasps, Turntable.fm frantically tried to switch its licensing structure entirely. Instead of paying $40,000 a month in licensing overhead (as reported by the founder), Turntable started outsourcing all its music to Soundcloud (for $0 in licensing overhead). But that introduced another set of problems, most notably a lack of control over the user experience and stability of the catalog. But that was right before things went dark.
Plug.DJ is struggling with similar issues: instead of direct-licensing, Plug uses embedded YouTube clips, which also means skipping ads that disrupt the experience. But even that approach is sketchy: Plug claims to reach more than 190 countries, and businesses built off of YouTube embeds are dicey prospects. Which means, Javelin could be investing in lots of lawyers, not engineers.