We had a chance to sit down with Turntable.fm co-founder and chairman Seth Goldstein (sitting center in the above photo) following his appearance at the Berklee College of Music's Rethink Music event this week, where he spoke on a panel about what the musical ecosystem may look like in 2015. In both our short interview and his appearance onstage, Goldstein was a little cagey about what Turntable.fm has planned — when asked about where Turntable.fm was going, he simply said "it'll just be awesome" — but he did say that "[an] Android [Turntable.fm app] is coming pretty soon."
"Japan will still probably be the hardest market to crack."
We also asked Goldstein about international expansion — on the panel, Goldstein noticed how Turntable.fm launched worldwide initially, but had to scale back to just the US to comply with the DMCA. It's been a pain point, as he said that 30 percent of the site's user base came from Japan initially. But now, Turntable.fm is "going as fast as we can" to expand internationally, though "some markets are easier than others" — it sounds like the UK and Canada would be the first to launch, though there's no specific timeframe at this point. Unfortunately, Goldstein did have to acknowledge that it would "take a while to get back to where we were at that point of innocent bliss" before Turntable.fm fell in line with the DMCA, and that it would probably take two years to complete an international rollout, which sounds tough to swallow considering that Goldstein already knows there's demand for his service. "We know there's a huge market in Japan," Goldstein said, "we have a deal with Sony, but despite all that Japan will still probably be the hardest market for us to crack."
Regarding more short-term changes and additions, Goldstein is keen on adding more customization options for users, saying that "people seem to love" Turntable.fm's distinct visual style. He mentioned the recent release of virtual laptop stickers as a customization option, and pointed us towards a pretty great Tumblr that collections some of the best designs that Turntable.fm users have some up with so far. "people like to express themselves differently online and they want to individuate themselves and i think that turntable's a way for them to do that musically." That customization and a steady stream of improvements is how Goldstein thinks he can keep people coming back for more: "we want to recognize and celebrate our best customers... giving them better tools, moderation tools, messaging, laptop sticker, sending the best DJs to Las Vegas is all part of it."
"My 10-year-old listens to dubstep"
Goldstein perhaps got most excited about giving another platform to EDM and the DJ culture — in contrast to heavily curated experiences where users pick from a set group of genres or stations, "people create weird stations — one of the first I remember was 'coding soundtrack' — and I was exposed to artists I'd never heard of that are now fairly popular." Goldstein also mentioned the accessibility of these genres to budding musicians, noting that "it's not just a genre that people are consuming, but it also represents user-generated music."
From what he's seeing, Goldstein feels "DJs are the new rockstars. It's not about... learning how to play the guitar, it's about opening up your laptop or iPad, or downloading an app to your smartphone." We've heard variations on this theme for years, though the low cost of equipment and ease of sharing means that we'll likely start seeing a lot more home-made compositions online — if you're one such creator, Seth Goldstein would surely welcome you to share you music with Turntable.fm's audience.