Media

Turntable.fm locks licensing deals with all four major music labels

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Hip music startup Turntable.fm got a dose of legitimacy today, with the announcement that it has signed licensing deals with the four biggest music labels: Warner, Universal, Sony, and EMI.

Turntable.fm CEO Seth Goldstein announced the deals during a panel at the South by Southwest festival today, but he couldn’t help but share the news with Twitter as well. With the official support of major labels, Turntable.fm now seems slightly less dangerous than when it first hit the scene last summer — scoring 140,000 users in one month.

The music site racked up a ton of hype last year because it offered something completely new and fresh: true social DJing. Turntable.fm lets up to five people share their playlists in virtual rooms, but only 200 people can enter to enjoy the curated tunes. For many, it’s an easy way to discover and share new music. But more importantly, Turntable.fm was just incredibly fun to use — so much so that it didn’t seem exactly legal, especially since you can upload your own songs to the service.

“This feels like an all-time record speed launch – when we launched we really didn’t come at this from the music industry, it was all new to us,” Goldstein told Billboard.biz in an interview prior to the announcement. “Our model is unique – we’re not a radio service, not an on-demand service. We have interesting aspects that really require some out-of-the-box thinking. We felt that from the get-go the labels were absolutely different from what I’d been led to believe. They gave us a lot of time and attention. Compared to their user base, we’re a tiny service in the broad scheme of things.”

Turntable.fm has seen its traffic fall dramatically since its initial rush of popularity. It’s gone down from over 200,000 monthly unique visitors at its peak last July, to around 50,000 visitors for the last few months, according to the traffic comparison site Compete. That’s led some to speculate that the service should consider pivoting once again (it spawned from the QR code sticker company StickyBits). But by snagging deals with the major labels, Turntable.fm seems prepared to push forward with its current goal of socializing music listening.

The site also launched an iPhone app in September, which has been steadily improved over the past few months. Part of its traffic decline could be explained by the iPhone app, which doesn’t count toward Compete’s numbers.

New York City-based Turntable.fm landed $7.5 million in funding last summer from Union Square Ventures, which valued the company at around $37.5 million.