Turntable fights the good fight for in­no­va­tion

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

Well, that didn’t take long. Re­cently, mu­sic nerds have been in rhap­sodies about Turntable.fm, a site which com­bined mu­sic streams, so­cial net­work­ing and chat.

You went to the site, chose one of the site’s rooms and lis­tened to mu­sic cho­sen by one of the five DJs tak­ing turns to spin some tunes. Geeks, techies, de­sign­ers and DJs spread the word and the buzz was be­gin­ning to grow.

This week, though, users out­side the United States found them­selves locked out of the site due to “li­cens­ing con­straints”. US fans could still rate tunes as “awe­some” or “lame”, but non-Yanks had to take a hike. The site has promised to bring in­ter­na­tional users back into the loop, though this may take some time.

Many have won­dered just how the site is get­ting away with stream­ing mu­sic with­out li­cences or per­mis­sions from la­bels or acts. Turntable it­self claims to be a non-in­ter­ac­tive ra­dio ser­vice and, as such, comes un­der the Dig­i­tal Millennium Copy­right Act, though some ma­jor la­bel with a fine bat­tal­ion of legal ea­gles may well de­cide to chal­lenge that.

But what Turntable shows is that any in­no­va­tion in the mu­sic sphere is go­ing to come from the tech side of the house. New ideas are not go­ing to hang around un­til the legal de­part­ments have signed off on ev­ery­thing. In­stead, as in the case of Turntable, those ideas are just go­ing to be rolled out.

The prob­lem for the mu­sic in­dus­try is that it has be­come too ac­cus­tomed to acting in a pro­tec­tion­ist man­ner, rather than be­ing pro-ac­tive. Now more than ever, a ser­vice such as Turntable should be en­cour­aged rather than run out of town.

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