Turntable.FM: Next on Marketers’ Playlists

When it comes to music, optimizing your marketing and maximizing revenue are huge challenges, especially in an increasingly mobile world, as a Nielsen study highlighted earlier this year. The U.S. release of Spotify and the rapid growth of Turntable.FM are changing the face of online music yet again, while in the process creating opportunities for smart marketers.

Why Should Marketers Pay Attention to Turntable.FM?

The simple answer is, because virtually everybody on the internet has at least some affinity for music – from the uberfan who tours with her favorite band every summer to the guy who just likes Track 6, that song that goes na-na-na. Play something nice and you’ve got their attention.

The almost-as-simple answer is, because everybody else in the online consumer value chain will be on board soon.

Haven’t been on the site yet? You just need a Facebook account and a friend who’s already a member.


Open up Turntable.FM in your browser and you’ll be faced with something very unfamiliar – a social media site with a lot of unused screen real estate. Clearly, there’s plenty of room for large display advertising units like the ones you see on Pandora – but the opportunities don’t end there.

Rooms on Turntable.FM have their own URLs, which means they can be promoted in search engines like any other web property. If you search for Kanye West on Google or Bing, today you get nothing but ads for his current tour with Jay-Z – just a bunch of links to Ticketnetwork.com, StubHub, Ticket Liquidator, and so on.

Seems like a ripe opportunity to ride that wave in popularity and promote Kanye’s catalog… after all, some fans may not live near a venue or be able to afford a ticket. This would be a nice alternative – and a chance to trade organic networked appeal among the artist’s base for, say, a pair of free tickets to some lucky winner.

There are also a number of ways in which embedded third-party content could be grafted into a Turntable.FM room environment to enhance the user experience:

  • You know the artist you want to play, but can’t decide on a track? A recommendation engine, powered by a major digital music retailer, could make suggestions and offer previews before you add a song to your queue. There could even be an incentive, for example: get 50 people to bob their heads, and you win a free track download!
  • If you’re standing in the crowd enjoying a new artist you’ve never heard before, there’s no need to stop there – major ticket resellers like Ticketmaster or Ticketweb could easily nurture your euphoria and offer a discounted ticket, right then and there, for an upcoming event in your home town. (Kudos to iConcertCal for elevating this to an art form within the iTunes environment.)
  • Maybe you just spent 20 minutes pitching the crowd on how awesome this new artist is, and now the crowd is digging it. What a great time to show some embedded information from an aggregator of bios, reviews and discography, such as Allmusic.com.
  • Turntable.FM is already experimenting with verifying artist accounts . With this credibility now certified, the artist can promote a one-hour DJ set on Saturday night by raffling off a pair of backstage passes to anyone who fans him during a specific part of the set. It’s the golden age of radio, all over again.

This goes beyond just the artists, advertisers and publishers – the opportunity for marketing agencies will become very apparent soon too. As word-of-mouth and social media monitoring becomes more entrenched in the digital marketing toolkit, it’s only a matter of time before executives start asking, “What are fans saying about this artist?” It’s a question that record labels and tour promoters should be asking, but also any brand looking to associate with an artist – or capture an audience that looks anything like the artist’s audience.

Monitoring the conversation in Turntable.FM’s chat reels (and mining its data) would provide invaluable insights to all of the aforementioned stakeholders, whether the objective is to sell product, build a brand, or simply deliver a better experience. Someone will find a way to productize this.

But What if the Content Dries up?

It’s always good for music industry startups to be checking the rear view – from Limewire to Rapidshare to Lala, the stories of casualties are a dime a dozen. But let’s steer clear of a dissertation on the mercurial relationship between music and technology. While the industry’s track record of innovative pricing models is less than outstanding, the revenue potential is so painfully obvious – and the current state of affairs so bleak – that it’s possible change is afoot.


If the content dries up on Turntable.FM, it will just spring up elsewhere – there are already a number of clones out there with their fingers crossed.

What’s in Store?

It’s still very early in the lifespan of Turntable.FM; the site only launched in early June. ComScore counted 207,000 unique users in July, and in August they scored a big wad of cash from Union Square Ventures.

Are they going to monetize it to oblivion right away? Probably not; we have Aaron Sorkin to thank for that. After all, it was “The Social Network” which encapsulated the wisdom of a Facebook’s meteoric rise: while Eduardo Saverin toiled away meeting with advertisers, Mark Zuckerberg insisted that guaranteeing Facebook’s success had a lot more to do with making a cool product.

For those who nervously await the first study estimating Facebook-like dents in workplace output as a result of Turntable.FM, fear not. That may indeed be coming, but there are also those who claim that disconnecting from your task every 20 to 30 minutes – i.e. roughly the amount of time it takes the other four DJs on the stage to play their songs – can make us more productive at work. Tell your bosses.

Related reading

Simple Share Buttons