Turntable.fm: Scratching, Mixing, and Spinning Out a Business Model

Turntable.fm has lifted off with ferocity, addicting those with early access while motivating others to find a way through the velvet ropes into the virtual club rooms.

What characteristics of turntable.fm proved to be the booster fuel, enabling this type of launch buzz and engagement?

  • Many of us secretly or not so secretly, have a desire to be DJs, so this concept for sharing music is compelling: a context where the DJ and other users are anticipating what song will be pulled out of the milk crate and whether the selection will drive forward the ongoing mix.
  • There is a gaming element (winning points gains you better avatars).
  • There are social elements (get your friends and work colleagues in, along with meeting new people based on musical taste).
  • Related to both the social and gaming aspects is the quest for social approval for the user’s mix skillz and general musical taste.
  • The combination results in intense engagement providing an opportunity for music discovery, giving at least a glimmer of hope for a business model to be built on this. (If the labels cooperate, historically not a given, so this is a big if.)

Any lessons here for other concepts?  Something sports-related could share these characteristics with the right implementation. Perhaps something around fantasy sports and real-time play calling during live sporting events.

The question with all rocket launches is whether the rocket reaches orbit or does it come crashing back to earth?  If we are still talking about turntable.fm a year from now, and we very well may be based on early returns, we will have some more lessons to draw about keeping something from being a passing fad and creating something more durable.