Founders: Billy Chasen, Seth Goldstein
Industry: Digital Music
Year Founded: 2011
Year Defunct: 2013
Turntable.fm was founded in May 2011 by Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein, the co-founders of the company Stickybits. Stickybits was a mobile app with which brands could stick QR codes on their products and allow users to scan them for rewards. While Stickybits was picked up by some brands, it failed to gain the widespread attraction of users. By January 2011 it became clear that Stickybits would not work, so Chasen and Goldstein presented their investors with the idea of turntable.fm. By May, turntable.fm was released, and within weeks the site went viral with such celebrities as Sir Mix-A-Lot using it. The board then pulled the plug on Stickybits and went ahead with turntable.fm.
Turntable.fm combined "music-streaming, chat rooms, and voting" by simulating a virtual environment filled with audience members and DJs represented by player avatars. Rooms were set up around certain musical genres, moods, or real-world atmospheres. When users were present in a particular room they were represented by their avatar who appeared as an attendant in the audience. If there were open DJ spots, users could "hop up" on to a DJ turntable and play music for the rest of the room. The DJ either provided a song that they possess on their local computer or selected a song from Turntable.fm's library. Available platforms to access the service included the hosting website, a Facebook application, an iPhone app, and an Android App
The users who were in the audience voted on songs that were played by a DJ by clicking the "lame" or "awesome" buttons. Too many "lame" votes triggered the room to skip to the next DJ while "awesome" votes gave DJ points to the current DJ. If a user decided to click the "awesome" button, their character began to sway their head back and forth, simulating how a fan would react to a song they liked in a club. More DJ points allowed for users to unlock additional avatars. The service additionally allowed users to chat in the rooms and to "follow" other users.
By July 2011, turntable.fm raised a $7 million round at a $35 million valuation in a funding led by Fred Wilson at Union Square Ventures.All initial investors of Stickybits were involved in the round, including First Round Capital, Polaris Venture Partners, and Lowercase Ventures. A number of entertainment executives have also invested, including Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Troy Carter, MTV's Courtney Holt, former Facebook executive Tim Kendall, The Roots, and Madonna's manager, Guy Oseary. By September 2011, turntable.fm had been used by over 600,000 people and streamed around 1 million songs per day.
On July 28, 2011, a turntable.fm dance party was held at The Canal Room in New York City which simulated the features of the website in real life. DJs were chosen from an applicant pool prior to the party and were allowed to play songs in turns during the celebration. DJs were rewarded with "points" for how many patrons were on the dance floor during a given DJ's song. If too few patrons were on the floor or there was a general lack of interest, DJs would have their turn skipped. The Australian electronic music act Knife Party notably made a surprise appearance to play on the site, attracting over 20,000 listeners.
On November 22, 2013, it was announced that Turntable.fm would be shut down in December 2013 in order to focus on its Turntable Live service, which allows musicians to perform interactive online concerts.
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