Turntable.fm Turns the Tables in its Favor: Signs Contract With 4 Major Labels

On Tuesday, at the SXSW festival Turntable.fm made the big announcement through co-founders Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein: the company has signed licensing deals with all four major labels during a panel called “Turntable.FM: The Future Of Music Is Social”

If your dream is to be a DJ, Turntable.fm may be the place to start as it offers a chance to a handful of users to mix up for more than 200 listeners in virtual rooms, each having its own musical theme. Besides that, DJs can choose from a catalog provided by MediaNet, or even upload their own work, whether it’s something they’ve recorded or a bespoke remix.

As such, due to the nature of these services the licensing process was complicated. Before having any licenses signed, the service obtained $7.5 million in funding from Union Square Ventures and a positive feedback from both the press and the public. However, signing with the record labels was mandatory, if the service should survive the rough and unpredictable cyberspace.

“We went into it without being worried about [licensing]. I didn’t, and still don’t know what the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] stands for,” said Goldstein.

“We didn’t know about the restrictions, the per-play rates, international [licensing differences], and the publishers, and the PROs [Performing Rights Organizations] — it was all gobbledegook … Intellectually, it [was] a huge challenge to navigate through a lot of these partnerships and label negotiations.”

Aided by digital music lawyer Debbie Newman, Goldstein and Chasen turned Turntable into a legitimate and hopefully profitable business. The service has already launched a mobile application for iPhone and iPad, so that you can listen to your favorite DJs wherever you go.