Aside from internet radio stations, streaming music on the internet has been a very solitary act, with individuals selecting music on-demand or listening to personalized playlists created by sites like Pandora. Turntable.fm, a new service available to Facebook users, merges the personalization of on-demand streaming with the communal experience of radio by allowing up to five users to stream any song they want simultaneously in one of the site’s “rooms.” The service provides access to millions of songs, but users are also allowed to upload their own mp3s.
As of yet, the service has not come under fire from record labels. Turntable.fm’s CEO Billy Chasen has said that the service is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, the same law that allows Pandora to operate without label deals, as a “non-interactive” internet radio service. Given that the selling point of Turntable.fm is in fact its interactive quality, Chasen may have to abandon that defense if his product is targeted by the RIAA.
Turntable.fm may be the only service currently offering a shared streaming option to its users, but they will soon have major competition. Spotify, the European music streaming juggernaut that has licensing deals in place with all but one of the four major record label groups, has been developing a nearly identical service with Facebook that is likely to be launched later this year.