When Turntable.fm launched in 2011 it served as a unique way to listen to music virtually with friends on the web. It works on the basis of groups that let users play music on virtual decks with a queue system, chat room, and the ability to search and upload music. Two years after its introduction, its creators are fighting to keep it alive.
In a recent blog post, Turntable co-founder Billy Chasen has revealed some of the spiralling costs that the social music service has faced. While the service is mainly supported by ads, Turntable.fm has tried to introduce premium tiers with additional features, avatars, and stickers, but it doesn't appear to have generated the type of revenue the company needs to run the service. Instead, Turntable.fm is now removing one of its key features: the ability to upload music. Chasen says the change "will reduce our monthly bill by roughly $20,000." SoundCloud will still be supported, so aspiring DJs can upload their music to that particular cloud music service and simply import it.
"We aren’t trying to kill it, you are watching us fight for it."
Despite deals with all four major record labels last year, it's clear the cost of royalties, service fees, and hosting have become a burden. "It was a choice we had to make to keep the service running," admits Chasen. While the service was popular initially, its appeal has dropped off after it has struggled to catch on with the masses and launch internationally. With costs reduced it will likely retain its loyal niche, but the struggles could mark the end for the service if it doesn't turn things around. "We aren’t trying to kill it, you are watching us fight for it," says Chasen.