I was lucky to be early enough to test social music service Turntable.fm before the inevitable happened, and the startup fell foul of the licensing constraints which has kicked Spotify and Last.fm in the teeth. This is what happens if you head to the site from outside the US:
The service already displayed this to users who insisted on repeating songs or artists more than a certain number of times:
We had to skip your song because our music licenses force us to limit the number of times an artist can be played each hour in a room. Playing the next song in your list that is in compliance.
Capping the number of times a user could play an artist/song will have kept Turntable.fm the right side of copyright laws in the US. Users of Spotify’s free service face exactly the same restriction; as did Last.fm’s before the site dropped its on-demand streaming service. Given that Turntable.fm still has to pay monthly fees, it’ll be interesting to see how the service will monetise where many of its fellows have failed. Pete Kafka at All Things Digital explores some of the legal issues further.
As he notes, Turntable.fm “feels pretty special”. It does, and its occasional drawbacks don’t detract from its core offering. It’s not quite up there to replace Spotify – the current format of the service makes it a massive drain on your time, because you spend so long searching for and choosing songs. But then again, sharing music this way is so addictive, you find yourself wanting to immerse yourself for hours at a time. Which for a weeks-old service, is a pretty good sign.
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