That Didn't Take Long: Turntable.fm Blocked To All Non-US Users

from the music industry killing off another one dept

Just last week, we wondered how long it would take before the recording industry helped kill off Turntable.fm, which we consider to be one of the best music services we’ve seen in a long, long time. Apparently, it’s not taking very long at all if you’re outside the US. We started receiving emails from people all weekend, letting us know that Turntable.fm had officially blocked all non-US users after realizing that its current licensing methodology technically only covers them in the US. The company insists that it’s planning to return to other countries “as quickly as possible,” but it may discover that’s a lot trickier than they expect. After all, Pandora went through the exact same thing, blocking all non-US users over four years ago, promising to return as quickly as possible, but it still hasn’t been able to, even now that the company’s public and has a giant warchest. Part of the problem is that music licensing agencies throughout the world demand absolutely ridiculous rates from companies like Pandora, and I imagine Turntable.fm will quickly discover the same depressing news.

Of course, in the meantime, those of us in the US can continue to use the service, and folks in foreign countries can get on via proxy servers which aren’t too hard to find, but basically the industry’s stupid licensing regimes effectively make this very useful service, that helps introduce people to new music, unavailable to most of the world. What a waste.

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Companies: pandora, turntable.fm

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Comments on “That Didn't Take Long: Turntable.fm Blocked To All Non-US Users”

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60 Comments
Marcus Carabsays:

In another universe...

My turntable.fm fantasy:

The site grows. New features appear. Artists and labels embrace it. People like Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor show up on occasion in rooms that quickly fill with thousands of people. Seeing a chance to manage server resources and monetize at the same time, turntable.fm builds a digital ticketing platform for paid shows with set capacities. Labels like Stones Throw and Def Jux hold exclusive album launch parties on the site, with a full roster of their artists spinning tunes – with only a few hundred tickets available, they sell out fast and can pull impressive prices. Inside these rooms, the labels and artists sell the first official copies of the album, plus merchandise and concert tickets for the launch tour, through the integrated system that supports both list items and auctions.

In public rooms, a prominent but simple marquee scroller on the DJ table – styled to match the unique graphical feel of the site – also advertises merchandise, tickets and digital downloads. It does this automatically through affiliate programs, pulling results from Ticketmaster, Amazon and Bandcamp as artists come up on the queue, and also through a YouTube-like program that allows copyright owners to directly monetize their content and make more unique offerings. Users can opt to receive monthly newsletters with various offers based on the songs they played/liked that month as well.

Because the affiliate program cuts the performing DJ in for a small piece of sales once they reach a certain volume, some ambitious folk even try to make a career out of DJing on the site – and a handful succeed. They boast well over a million followers each, and are constantly courted by promoters to give exposure to new artists (a few sell out, and are rapidly abandoned). Others have used their popularity to promote their original work, converting their DJ-following into fans of their music, and RtB-ing them with Amanda Palmer-esque auctions on the virtual dancefloor.

The site sets the standard for social music, much fun is had, and money is made by all. Oh, and I can fucking use it from Canada.

el_segfaultosays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

Speak for yourself. I have a ton / metric ton of friends from Canada. And while we can thank Canada for such acts as Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Nickelback, Justin Bieber, William Shatner, Gordon Lightfoot, and a host of others, we shouldn’t judge them on those merits alone.

With the terrifying road that my own country is taking (United States), Canada is on a short list of other nations that I would be willing to defect to. Just get those internet caps under control and we’ll talk.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: In another universe...

Mental masturbation at it’s finest. You missed on really small part of the puzzle: where is the money coming from?

The answer isn’t from people buying the special stuff, because it’s already been shown that this is a very short term sort of way to market things. All of your fantasy depends on people doing the stupid thing, paying too much for too little, while not paying for what they really want.

It’s a wonderful story, but it goes against reality.

Planespottersays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

jesus h christ, uncle bob on his bicycle!

It goes against your reality, the reality of 1990’s, when people queued up to buy shiny plastic discs.

It doesn’t go against ours and to be totally frank what would it cost to give it a try eh?

The recording industry is in it’d death throws, people like Marcus are just trying to throw them a frickin’ lifeline!

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

Perhaps you might want to think about it. It isn’t about selling plastic discs, that is the standard dismissive comment from someone who isn’t thinking about where business is going.

Actually, your comments (and Marcus’s fantasy post) show and incredible lack of understanding of human nature and the ability of people to see and ignore artificial scarcity and manipulations. Sell the product people want, the music, and the rest of the business follows. Give it all away, and then you have to spend the rest of your lives trying to find ways to trick people to buy stuff. That isn’t forward things, that is just bad business and bad for everyone involved, especially the artists. They don’t want to spend their lives whoring out their time to try to pay the bills.

Richardsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...


Actually, your comments (and Marcus’s fantasy post) show and incredible lack of understanding of human nature and the ability of people to see and ignore artificial scarcity and manipulations.

That particular boot is on your foot not theirs.

Sell the product people want, the music, and the rest of the business follows.

How exactly do you propose to “sell the music”. The only way that makes sense is if you actually sell the rights – which I’m pretty sure you don’t mean. Otherwise you are always in practice selling some physical resource to which to music is in some way attached.

Prisoner 201says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

Remind me not to buy stock in your business.

Because you do not see the new business model possibilities, and will continue to try and sell zeroes and ones in a world that does not support it.

But it’s ok. Failure to adapt leads to extinction, its the natural way of things.

Niallsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

People also want a number of other things, like social environments, exclusive or prior access, exclusive goods, or direct access to the music maker. Any environment that has a lot of people keen to be there will be a mecca for advertisers. If you don’t know how to monetise that, then tough titties. Go home and let someone else who does, succeed.

In ten minutes of writing about one product, Marcus has put more thought and creativity into extending and creating possibilities for engagement, expansion and monetising than anything the (recording) music industry has done in 15 years. So stop whining and come up with your own ideas, instead of carping about someone else’s.

The Infamous Joesays:

Re: Re: In another universe...

Normally I find myself agreeing with your comments, but I can’t wrap my head around this:

with only a few hundred tickets available, they sell out fast and can pull impressive prices

Artificial scarcity? Really? You mentioned server load, but I can’t imagine a chat room coupled with low grade avatars and music streaming will require “managing server load” to a few hundred. You’ve fallen into the same trap that the **AA’s do.

It’s okay, I forgive you. ๐Ÿ˜›

Marcus Carabsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

I do partially see what you mean, and I thought about that while writing it. But the thing is, when you’re talking about access to an artist, the scarcity isn’t really artificial.

When I talk about smaller, exclusive rooms, I am picturing rooms in which the artists are interacting with the fans – taking comments and answering questions. Obviously the intimacy of such a situation is inversely proportionate to the number of people, and there are fans who would be more than willing to pay more in order to share a chat room with their favourite artist and only 100 other people. So it’s not really about creating artificial scarcity, but selling the scarcity that is an artist’s attention.

David Muirsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

Fantastic response, Marcus. I wanted an answer to what I saw as an “injected” scarcity and of course your reasoning is perfectly sound (as usual).

I’m Canadian too and was already annoyed about Pandora (which I thought was pure genius when I had a chance to try it before they blocked it). Now I miss my chance to try what sounds like yet another phenomenal service.

I really believe the **AAs have a spiteful and extremely narrow-minded approach to business. It seems clear to me that if someone invented the radio broadcasting business model today, they would try in earnest to kill it off.

Marcus Carabsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

(also add to that the idea that, by paying to get into the room, they would also be getting early access to concert tickets, a chance to bid on things like backstage passes, all sorts of stuff – don’t worry Joe, I haven’t abandoned you – i’m talking about genuine efforts at RtB here!)

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

I think you’re describing a fan club. These are all basic fan club offers, even the chat. I’m not sure it creates a sustainable business. Besides, an artist who is on the level where at least 100 people are willing to pay premium prices to interact with them is probably an artist whose band is a full-time business as it is. I’m not sure they could find the time to engage in a meaningful way. I imagine the interaction would be fairly limited and could lead to a bit of backlash among those who have paid and feel like they’re being taken advantage of. Also, I would bet that fan clubbers who are already paying for yearly membership will not happily pay again for any further interactions. In fact, I imagine they’ll be visibly pissed if they are left out.

As an example, you can examine the backlash against The White Stripes/Third Man Records regarding their most recent limited-edition releases. The label decided to auction them rather than let ebay sellers buy up the lot and jack up prices on the after market. Needless to say, fan clubbers were pissed and perceived Third Man as taking advantage of them, when in reality the label was doing the “honest” thing and letting demand set the price. On top of that, you’ll notice that fans didn’t seem to care that the money that would have gone to ebay sellers was now going to the artists. Despite the company line at pundit sites, people do not happily part with cash; where the fantasy that they love throwing money at artists comes from I’ll never know.

Some artists would be good at this kind of interaction. Odd Future already does this, but I don’t think they’re making much money on that front. You can’t really monetize Twitter interactions on a meaningful level, as far as I know. I believe most of their money is coming from good old CD sales and concert tickets/performance guarantees.

Marcus Carabsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

And yet we know that many musicians have found success by experimenting with new models online.

I feel like you are being a little too pessimistic. I may not have all the details right, and there are plenty more ideas to be brainstormed. All I am saying is that turntable.fm is a fun, powerful, engaging platform that has a hell of a lot of potential – perhaps enough to supplant radio entirely as the standard for human-curated music. My fantasy universe is one in which, when faced with such an exciting new platform, content owners immediately begin experimenting with innovative business models, instead of strangling it with onerous licensing terms.

Hephaestussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

Marcus

Great vision of the future. Do you want to get together and bounce some ideas back an forth? Come up with several promotional ideas, websites, business models for the web sites, etc. I have been thinking about this for a while, we can ask if Mike would like to publish them here.

The one thing that is actually holding back the artists from leaving the record labels en masse is the promotion piece. If we can brain storm, and build upon ideas that people throw at us in the comments, and evolve this into something workable, we could make one hell of a dent in the record labels.

Just a thought …

David

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: In another universe...

“Needless to say, fan clubbers were pissed and perceived Third Man as taking advantage of them, when in reality the label was doing the “honest” thing and letting demand set the price.”

Hmmm… let me see here. I don’t know the facts, but it sounds like the label decided to divert the profits had by eBay sellers to themselves. This inevitably raised the lowest prices available for the record, pricing honest fan club members who could have bought the records for their collection out of the market, while ensuring that only the rich or completely obsessed could afford the record. Then, people got pissed off about that, especially those who had been paying fan club members who supported the band for years?

Yeah, that sounds right to me, to be honest.

” Despite the company line at pundit sites, people do not happily part with cash”

Did the records sell? If so, the answer is yes, they do. If not, their audience apparently didn’t like being fleeced by the label as opposed to avoidable eBay touts. Imagine that.

“You can’t really monetize Twitter interactions on a meaningful level, as far as I know. I believe most of their money is coming from good old CD sales and concert tickets/performance guarantees.”

You understand there might be a contradiction there, right?

Jaysays:

Re: Abolishment

There’s a lot of things we need to abolish. They are as follows:

FCC (for rolling over for AT&T and allowing the current duopoly)

FBI (for being a quasi government entity that cares not one lick about the Constitution, but suppressing people)

CIA (for outright lying to Congress and promoting people for ineptitude)

The 257+ organizations that are part of top secret America, more interested in spending money than actual security

Patent Office (for stifling innovation in exchange for quick trials based on dubious “first to file” charges)

FTR (301 Special Report. Nuf said)

Lobbynomics (If we can get rid of this, the rest of the world would be a better place)

Patrick Leahy (For denying the effects of copyright enforcement in the name of his own paycheck.)

I’d go on, but then, I’d get mad…

PaulTsays:

Called it...

I said in the other thread but sadly I was right. Not only are new services crippled by high licensing costs but they’re only allowed to service whatever portion of the population happens to be in the US at any given time… No wonder there’s problems.

Oh well, maybe I’ll be able to check the service out when I happen to be in the US for a week in November, along with Pandora, Hulu, Netflix and all these other great services I’m not allowed to use. An American on vacation or working in my part of the world will lose their access in the same time, of course, even for those services they pay for…

Kirionsays:

I’m from Russia and we hardly have any legal services available here (well there is some russian, but they suck frankly).

Remember allofmp3.com and all the ruckus? “Oh my, Russia supports music piracy!”. It took president Bush to complain to shut down site. But you know what? I had no idea that it was illegal and I used it. Because it was convenient, because I felt good when I bought music (although I listen mostly jazz and blues).

Then, few years later, someone showed me Spotify and it was wonderful! Yes, to register you’d need to tinker with proxy, but still. I even bought most expensive plan, because you could used service abroad then and forget about proxy. Few months later Spotify blocked my account in suspicion that I wasn’t really from UK.

You know what? FUCK IT. I would really love to pay for convenient way to listen to music that I love, but apparently, recording industry don’t need my money.

So, torrents, here we go! Oh, and Grooveshark. I know that their legality are murky, but at least service works in Russia.

Anonymoussays:

“It sounds like there is a lot of money to be made in proxy services…” since that money won’t be filtered for a hefty cut through the hands of RIAA in order to protect the interests of the artist. federal law enforcement will have to be allocated in policing theses rouge sights. i’ll wind up paying for the musick anyway with higher taxes. only this time non of the money will reach the artiest.

Vincent Clementsays:

Regional restrictions aka “how to kill your revenue stream”.

I’m Canadian that used to subscribe to MusicMatch Radio (well before Yahoo bought MusicMatch and killed that cash cow). I listened to all sorts of new music. Bought plenty of songs. It was a great service.

Then one day I got an email telling me that my subscription would not be renewed due to licensing issues. At that time, there was nothing comparable to MusicMatch Radio in Canada. The Canadian versions had restricted range of music and options and were much pricier.

So I didn’t bother signing up. Money lost.

alexsays:

It’s a shame but not at all unexpected (eg in your previous post). International lisensing is a complicated business.

I suspect turntable.fm are now looking at whether they want to do ip-country lookups for every client/stream and pay the fee in whatever country they’re located in – and of course that’s not even an option if MediaNet don’t have the lisense for some music in some territories.

On a different note – this kind of thing will have a positive overall effect imo. Enough people saw turntable.fm and hyped it, and that means the cat is out of the bag. It can’t really be stopped, because that’ll just force it underground – and I don’t doubt there’s a team of devs in Russia with a few terrabytes of dodgy mp3s who will jump in with a similar idea if nobody else does.

The Infamous Joesays:

Re: Re:

It can’t really be stopped, because that’ll just force it underground – and I don’t doubt there’s a team of devs in Russia with a few terrabytes of dodgy mp3s who will jump in with a similar idea if nobody else does.

This is a very good point. I don’t understand why these record labels don’t understand that they can work with new ideas/business models or they can drive them underground, but they cannot stop them.

If you can’t beat them, join them. Right?

alexsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yep, although not really the record labels that are to blame.

A label might have released a record in one territory (and registered it with a rights collecting agency there) then lisenced the same record to another label to release in a different territory (and register it with another rights collecting agency there). In that case, turntable.fm would have to pay the correct agency depending on where the listenner is. Then of course the different rights collecting agencies will want different fees (if they allow it int eh first place). Like I say, it’s a complicated business.

In my opinion, the rights agencies need to get together and sort this out between themselves, as they’re the ones really stopping international services from working. For example, services as big and influential as YouTube can’t play videos to people in Germany if they contain music registered with the rights collecting group GEMA. It’s pretty bad for the end users and I hope they sort it out soon.

Richardsays:

I had a sudden thought when I read this.

Blocking by country is, I assume, done by IP address. Certain countries have certain IP addresses that they use, so if you block that range, you block that country. Simple enough to get around with proxies in other countries. But that was IPv4.
IPv6, from what I know about it, assigns “IP”s based on the devices MAC address (as well as some random number for security/privacy purposes). Because of this, and the size of the IPv6 address range, the doling out of IP addresses by IANA is quite simply unnecessary. Thus, there will presumably be no “country range” of IP’s. Thus these country blocking attempts will quite simply STOP WORKING once we finally make the big switch over to IPv6 (which despite the fact that we officially ran out of IPv4 addresses sometime last year, is probably still ages away).

David Muirsays:

Re: IPv6

“country blocking attempts will quite simply STOP WORKING once we finally make the big switch over to IPv6 (which despite the fact that we officially ran out of IPv4 addresses sometime last year, is probably still ages away).”

Sadly one reason it is ages away is not a technical or even a logistical one. It is the political and administrative juggernaut needing to come to terms with things like a replacement for geo-locating. As the other commenter pointed out: they are working on a “solution” to this “problem”. The world is now a global village but even in a tiny hamlet there are grumpy neighbors who want to put up huge fences.

Organizing Cordiality

The trouble we go through to get what we need approved or disapproved takes trial and effort. However, we all must go through the motions to learn hardcore lessons.

Love the music and the trails I leave, however, the payback was in the fans who learn these lessons and enjoy the new fans, sells, and expressions they’ll be tankering in the future.

Thanks for the forum too all internet software programs out in all the sectors. May we have it become organized here first, as they catch on we’ll find black gold in our music in no time.

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