One of Turntable.fm’s earliest proponents was a music blog in Germany that helped send the music sharing game viral. However, the startup soon discovered that the licensing and rights rules abroad were more complicated than the rules at home, and had to pull the service down outside the U.S. The announcement yesterday that Turntable has signed direct licensing agreements with the four major music labels shows the company hasn’t forgotten about its international fans. “We’re trying to go international,” cofounder and CEO Billy Chasen told Betabeat this morning from Austin, where Turntable is revving up for South By Southwest: Music. “It’s going to take a little bit of time but we’re actively talking to all the people and publishers and rights holders internationally that we need to talk to.”
Turntable should become available in countries outside the U.S. sometime in the next few months, Mr. Chasen said. “We’ll slowly turn on countries because they all have different specific requirements on what we have to do to actually play music in them.”
The direct partnerships with labels carry other perks, he said. Previously, Turntable was streaming music according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which comes with some restrictions. You can only skip songs a certain number of times, for example, and can’t see what the next song will be. By negotiating directly with labels, Turntable was able to get around those restrictions. Features that take advantage of the new freedoms are coming soon, Mr. Chasen said.
Turntable was without a doubt the most-hyped startup to emerge from New York in the last year as music lovers discovered it and shared it with their friends. Was it demoralizing when some of that hype died down?
Turntable still gets a fair amount of hype, Mr. Chasen said, “usually around when we release things” or make announcements. “There was definitely a moment where we came out and everyone needed to see what we were,” he said. “Obviously a lot of that traffic isn’t going to be our core audience.”
Turntable has found its true fans now, he said, and has been growing sustainably week-over-week since January. Mr. Chasen is, as ever, totally not worried about competition from Facebook, where Spotify integration and the new chat feature Listen With threaten to chip away users from Turntable. “We’re integrated with Facebook,” he said. “We’ve always been excited to work with them. They want to help anything that is potentially social find its audience online.”
The startup continues to score high profile partnerships, including helping out with an event for the Grammys. “We got invited to go to the Grammys. That’s not something every startup gets,” Mr. Chasen said. At SXSW, Turntable partnered with Intel and Pepsi and hosted a party with Flying Lotus on Saturday. But Thursday is the big blowout: Questlove, A-Trak and Diplo at a 2,000-person venue.
The company is up to 12 employees in its Union Square office, but hopes to find a few new employees—and a new office—in the next month or two.