Just when Betabeat was considering a pivot to Turntable.fm Fan Club, we suddenly started hearing about a new social music streaming app on the scene. Console.fm just launched as a series of channels streaming various genres of electronic music, and the Twitters are a’buzzing. The hype isn’t as exaggerated as it was when Turntable.fm first leaked–for one, Console is open to anyone who wants to authenticate with Twitter, and the site lacks the cute avatars and doesn’t have quite the intensity of interactivity that made Turntable stick out.
But investors including Turntable friend Chris Sacca, 500Startups’s Dave McClure and New York’s Nihal Mehta are testing out the app, and comparisons are already flying. “Turntable.fm is to Yahoo as Console.fm is to Google. [It] just knows whats good music — no humans required,” writes Tawheed Kader, founder of Tout and current resident of the 500Startups incubator in Mountain View.
Console.fm is organized by channel–dubstep, trance, etc.–and is limited to electronic genres rightn now. Like Turntable.fm, it includes a heavy emphasis on the social aspect of listening to music. There’s a chat room for each channel and you can privately chat with any user in your room. The tool bar at the top of the screen prominently features buttons to share a song on Twitter or Facebook, as well as the option to send a Facebook message to anyone with the link to the song.
Console uses its own algorithm to find popular tracks to include in each channel and plays the songs from Soundcloud. So, could the Bay Area-based start-up be a competitor to the hyped-up Turntable? One of the drawbacks of Turntable is that it requires constant attention–users have to rate songs in order to give the DJs points, and it tends to suck users in the way a full-fledged game like Farmville would, making it difficult to play in the background while you work. Console.fm is much less demanding. It’s also not as democratic–there’s no voting and the songs aren’t chosen by users. Which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how closely your music tastes align with your fellow Turntablists.
Users in the dubstep room were all over the Coding Soundtrack: Console.fm analogue. “Hahah, jumping onto the next best thing?” said one user in the Dubstep room. Shortly afterward, another user asked for a Turntable.fm invite. It seems for now that the services are dissimilar enough–each have unique draws–that users will either separate themselves in Console and Turntable camps or continue to use both.
Console.fm founder Alex Baldwin is also founder of Hello World, a LinkedIn/About.me for developers, which entered the 500Startups incubator this spring. “We’re the guys from Hello World, part of the accelerator batch. This was a side project while we were waiting on another developer to refactor some code. All in all we spent about 3 days on the project,” Mr. Baldwin writes at Hacker News. “The goal was to make something we could listen to at the office all day without having to click ‘Awesome’ every 5 minutes, but we went a bit overboard on the social features.”