Summer Jamz

We’re About to See the First Formal Marketing Experiment on Turntable.fm

turntable gorilla Were About to See the First Formal Marketing Experiment on Turntable.fm

Blowin' up: Turntable.com.

Today, a start-up is putting Turntable.fm to the test. Mashable reports 1band1brand, a site for indie music and fashion brands, is hosting a Turntable room shortly with “trivia contests, giveaways, artist DJs (Eastern Conference Champions and Kopecky Family Band) and open mic spots for participating users.”

It’s scary how fast Turntable.fm blew up. At the beginning of the month, invites went out to a small batch of early adopters, who used Facebook to spread it to their friends, and somehow it got picked up by a music blog in Germany, and then it was all over Twitter, and then the co-founders had to stop signing up new users for a while due to the unanticipated windfall. And that was just the beginning:

Developers started building hacks and apps for Turntable (the latest is the Turntable Dashboard, which shows what’s playing in all rooms with more than 20 people) About two weeks after its public launch, Turntable announced it was hiring and started iterating on features.

They’ve got the users. They’ve got the hype. But legal threats from the still-entrenched music industry threaten the sustainability of a hyper-popular site in the absence of a revenue stream, so co-founders Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein better be thinking beyond just making something cool.

Turntable sends some referrals to iTunes, but it’s widely agreed that the biggest potential for money-makin’ is in hosting music events online–like when Diplo ambushed the System Addict – Idle Warship room–as a marketing tool.

Turntable is in the opposite situation of the barcode-based social network Stickybits, the first incarnation of the company, which racked up a slew of early partnerships with Pepsi, Campbell’s Soup and Lipton Brisk Tea, but never caught on with users. “It was a great idea, but didn’t gain traction, possibly because it was ahead of its time. So Billy directed his software team in a totally different direction, into the music world,” explains Philip Chasen, antiques dealer and grandfather of Turntable.fm, in a post about the site’s growing pains.

Stickybits: Customers but no users. Turntable: Users but no customers (yet). Man, internet start-ups are hard, aren’t they?

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com