Were Turntable.fm and “Group Listening” Just a Summertime Fad?

Other than Spotify, there could hardly have been a more buzz-worthy music startup this summer than Turntable.fm. The group listening and virtual DJing app seemed to come out of nowhere and take the Web by storm, grabbing funding and users in huge quantities. The company, which rose from the pivot-generated ashes of mobile scannable sticker startup StickyBits, first went live in May of last year and became all the rage among the kids.

Turntable.fm was such a craze that it gave rise to a number of copycat services pretty quickly. Group listening in general became one of the biggest trends in online music last year. But many have wondered if this particular trend has long-term staying power, or if the whole thing was just a fad.

New data suggests that Turntable.fm’s popularity was indeed short-lived. Rather than growing continously over time, the site’s Web traffic, search volume and Alexa rank all spiked in July and then trailed downward from August onward, according an analysis from Digital Music News.

What this data does not include is information about the service’s mobile apps, which so far only exist on iOS. Even so, it’s unlikely that the losses it has apparently seen on the Web have somehow been made up for entirely with mobile users. Evidently, the September launch of that iOS app didn’t do much to drive interest in the service back toward its July peak.

Turntable.fm isn’t the only site of its kind having trouble making this model work. In August, a site called Chill.com went live, promising to offer a “Turntable.fm for video” type of experience. That is, it allowed users to watch videos with one another in real time, much as they could listen to music on sites like Turntable.fm. Chill shifted gears last month with a major relaunch that deemphasized group watching in favor of social video discovery.

This isn’t to say that group listening is dead in the water. Indeed, socially-curated and synchronized content consumption became a big new focus at Facebook last year, with their tight integrations with services like Spotify, MOG and Rdio. In January, Facebook took things a step further by launching a feature that lets users listen to music with friends in real time.

To be sure, Turntable.fm is still popular among a certain set of users. It just doesn’t seem to have caught on as widely as expected, if the publicly-available data are to be believed. It’s entirely possible that the press buzz the service got over the summer let to a spike in usage and that it’s now settling into its proper niche user base. For the site to remain viable and eventually forge a monetization strategy, those numbers will have to find a way to climb back up.

Traffic chart courtesy of Digital Music News.

Facebook Comments