It’s possible Betabeat’s “Summer Jamz” tag for Turntable.fm posts may have proved portentous. After looking at the site’s traffic and search trends, Digital Music News wonders, “Has the fickle internet already chewed this site up, spit it out, and moved onto something else?”
It echoes what a norms friend and former TTFM enthusiast said to us over coffee last weekend, “Remember when everyone was excited about Turntable.fm?!” She has since moved on to Spotify.
The tech press is just as eager to roast a failure as it to crown a startup prince (not us, of course, no never). But while the data is unverified, a unique visitor count from Compete.com, ranking data from Alexa and Google search trend data all show a markedly similar downward-sloping curve after a steep spike in June and July.
Last week, just before Turntable.fm was going to showcased at the Raise Cache fundraiser, co-founder Billy Chasen told Betabeat that the service was streaming as many as a 1 million tracks a day. Around the same time, co-founder Seth Goldstein told VatorNews, “We have a passionate core of 20,000 to 40,000 users, who use the service 10-20 hours a month.”
Digital Music News posits several reasons for what looks like a traffic dive:
” . . . there are factors inhibiting growth. Like international licensing, or lack therof. Currently, Turntable.fm is flatly illegal outside of the US, given the absence of DMCA protections. “We had to shut off international access very early on, because the DMCA provisions don’t support international access,” Goldstein continued. “And early on, Japan, Brazil, and some of these other countries were huge consumers.”
However, as the post points out, even if TTFM can get major label licensing, “big licenses cost big money, and investors rarely see a big return on those investments.”
A Betabeat tipster, who wondered by Turntable.fm seemed “so empty” despite its 1 million daily plays, pointed us to Turntable.fm’s AppData listing, where the source recommended, “You should get the 90+ day view for even more reverse hockey stick fun. Maybe there is a technical reason for this. If so what is it?”
Betabeat has reached out to Mr. Chasen for comment about what, if any, significance he sees in their numbers, whether they are accurate, and whether they can grow off a core base of users alone. We’ll update the post when we hear back.
The tipster also had a theory: namely that the problem lies with user’s unfamiliarity with DJ-ing, pointing out that even Mr. Chasen found it “a little intimidating.” Said the tipster:
This is a great quote. It’s intimidating because there is more to DJing that queuing tracks, actually. Is this going to be more of the mormon bartender problem?
The source was referring to Pinboard founder Maciej Ceglowski’s recent, incisive post on the social graph, where he wrote, “Asking computer nerds to design social software is a little bit like hiring a Mormon bartender.”
On Digital Music News, the commenters seemed of two minds about the apparent slump, with @fingertipsmusic calling Turntable.fm “a cautionary tale for an industry immune to cautionary tales,” while @bsstoner defended its chances, “Too much early hype, it’s still a killer product.”
If you fancy yourself a turn-around expert, head over to Quora. No one’s attempted to answer the “How will turntable.fm make money?” question since August.