By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Turntable.fm, as first reported here, once rocked the online world by making it possible for people to transform themselves into cute little avatars and DJ music to each other in virtual rooms, replete with chat and voting on songs. It users accumulate points when people like what they play, or their song gets skipped if too many people in the room don’t like it, which is why we said it “takes ‘social music’ beyond the buzzword.”
This was a breakthrough concept, but Turntable.fm’s popularity has been on the wane for quite some time — and now, it has killed off one of its most beloved features: the ability to upload rare tracks that are not in the service’s standard music catalog, which is licensed from MediaNet.
“The change we made yesterday, removing the ability to upload music directly, will reduce our monthly bill by roughly $20,000,” explained Turntable.fm founder and CEO Billy Chasen (updated). “That’s a huge saving that we need and we thought validated adding an extra step to uploading (upload it on SoundCloud and search for it on Turntable). It was a choice we had to make to keep the service running.”
This was the feature that allowed users to post songs or remixes that they themselves had personally recorded, which is why people liked it so much. Turntable.fm users can still play those songs, but first, they’ll need to upload that music to SoundCloud.com, adding a time-consuming step to the process. It also means that if a song runs afoul of SoundCloud’s usage restrictions (including against copyright infringement, like when you remix or mash-up a song without permission), you can no longer play it on Turntable.fm.
“So far the community reaction has been quite negative,” said a tipster who preferred to remain anonymous. ”I know quite a few users who are quitting because of it.”
From my testing, it appears that songs already uploaded by users will still be playable, so it’s only the new songs that must be uploaded to SoundCloud instead.
Update: If you’re interested in Turntable.fm, it’s well worth reading Chasen’s entire blog post for more context on this situation.