Summer Jamz

Turntable Gets Labels On Board, International Launches Coming Over Next Few Months

One of’s earliest proponents was a music blog in Germany that helped send the music sharing game viral. However, the startup soon discovered that the licensing and rights rules abroad were more complicated than the rules at home, and had to pull the service down outside the U.S. The announcement yesterday that Turntable has signed direct licensing agreements with the four major music labels shows the company hasn’t forgotten about its international fans. “We’re trying to go international,” cofounder and CEO Billy Chasen told Betabeat this morning from Austin, where Turntable is revving up for South By Southwest: Music. “It’s going to take a little bit of time but we’re actively talking to all the people and publishers and rights holders internationally that we need to talk to.”

Turntable should become available in countries outside the U.S. sometime in the next few months, Mr. Chasen said. “We’ll slowly turn on countries because they all have different specific requirements on what we have to do to actually play music in them.” Read More

Pivot Patrol

Billy Chasen Talks About the Decision to Shut Down Stickybits and Start

The glory days. (Photo:

Betabeat covered the rise of this summer and the pivot/restart founder Billy Chasen made from his previous company Stickybits. During the most recent episode of Founder Stories, he told Chris Dixon about how he came to make this hard decision and break the news to his investors and employees.

“I was looking at the health of the company, just a dozen different metrics, how are users liking it, where is the product at, and everything was just kind of a mediocre success. So I wasn’t as excited going in, I was like, can I really see myself doing this for another year.” Read More

Summer Jamz

Did’s Traffic Fly South for the Winter or Forever?

That's Betabeat on the dance floor with the lame avatar.

It’s possible Betabeat’s “Summer Jamz” tag for posts may have proved portentous. After looking at the site’s traffic and search trends, Digital Music News wonders, “Has the fickle internet already chewed this site up, spit it out, and moved onto something else?”

It echoes what a norms friend and former TTFM enthusiast said to us over coffee last weekend, “Remember when everyone was excited about!” She has since moved on to Spotify.

The tech press is just as eager to roast a failure as it to crown a startup prince (not us, of course, no never). But while the data is unverified, a unique visitor count from, ranking data from Alexa and Google search trend data all show a markedly similar downward-sloping curve after a steep spike in June and July. Read More

Summer Jamz

As It Prepares to Raise Cache, Spinning A Million Tracks Per Day

Internet rock stars

Silicon Alley is buzzing for tonight’s fashionable tech fete, the runway party to Raise Cache for HackNY. The DJs for tonight’s event will rocking the house via, which bestowed special avatars on Fred Wilson, Andy Weissman, Dennis Crowley, Dave Goldberg and Lauren Leto.

Betabeat chatted with co-founder Billy Chasen, who will also be spinning tonight. “To be honest, I’ve never really been a DJ in real life,” Mr. Chasen said. “It’s a little intimidating.”

Online, however, he has no such hang ups. “When I am DJing on and a whole room is listening to what I want them to, people pressing the awesome button, that’s just a powerful feeling.” Read More

Summer Jamz Picks Union Square Ventures as Investor Over Kleiner and Accel

In a room of bobbing avatars, Radiohead take on new meaning

While the legal paperwork is still being finished, Betabeat has learned from multiple sources that Union Square Venture is the big new investor in

Betabeat was the first to report the company was raising significant funds. It was later reported by Business Insider that the round had closed, which was not true at the time, and technically is still not the case. We have been told that BI was essentially correct on the numbers, which were reported as a $7.5 million round at a $37.5 million valuation.

TechCrunch was the first to report that Turntable was choosing between USV, Kleiner Perkins and Accel. The choice of USV over West Coast heavyweights like Kleiner Perkins and Accel makes a lot of sense. Both Kleiner and Accel have deep ties with Facebook, which is reportedly building its own music service, so there is a potential for conflict of interest. USV, by contrast, has deep ties with Twitter, which is’s most powerful distribution platform. Read More

Summer Jamz

Turntable.FM Building New Avatar System That Will Use Your Real Face

turntable gorilla

The folks over at think this is a “joke” feature, but Betabeat is inclined to disagree. The company is strapped for resources and not likely to code something they don’t plan on using, even if it does help them blow off a little steam. This should’t be at the top of anyone’s priority list, but a system that lets you take a photo with a webcam and use your real face as an avatar definitely get our awesome meter going. Video Here

Curios’s Billy Chasen Built an SMS Door Lock With Twilio

sms lock

When he’s not too busy keeping fast growing companies like from coming apart at the seams, Billy Chasen likes to hack together little projects. Since he hates keys, he built this SMS activated lock which lets him open, close and check the status of his office door by sending a text message.

It reminds Betabeat of the amazing Foursquare activated door the guys at built when they accidentally invited the whole internet to their New Year’s Eve party. Read More

Summer Jamz and the Siren Song of the Start-up Pivot

Pivot Prof. Billy Chasen

There is no more overused and reviled word in the world of tech start-ups than pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot.

It seems to capture the manic energy of the current tech industry, in which an idea can get millions in funding before building a product and, if the users never materialize, or the business model never emerges amidst all hype, simply change their direction and try something new.

No company better epitomizes this idea of second chances than, a social music site, born out of the ashes of a failed venture called Stickybits. Founders Billy Chasen and Seth Goldstein raised almost $2 million for Stickybits and worked on the project for about a year. The idea was to leave little stickers on physical objects that contained links to stories, photos and video on the web. Big brands like Pepsi thought it was a great idea. Users, not so much.

With little momentum and cash running low, they decided to pull a monster pivot., which launched a little over one month ago, has already attracted over 300,000 users and the interest of top tier investors on the east and west coast. Suddenly a team that was running low on funds is being courted for a fresh infusion of $5-10 million at a $40 million valuation, Betabeat has learned from multiple sources. Read More

Summer Jamz

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

turntable gorilla

Today, a start-up is putting 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 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. Read More

Summer Jamz Blocks International Users After Licensing Problem

turntable banned

Betabeat was just starting to get a taste for anime soundtracks and neu rave when the news came down that will be blocking international users. It’s an unfortunate setback for a start-up that already has investors questioning the legal troubles associated with its music rights.

Co-founder Billy Chasen sent out the tweet on Saturday. It’s nothing to be ashamed of really. Pandora has blocked international users for years, and Spotify, the biggest streaming music service in Europe, still hasn’t officially arrived in the U.S.. For a glass half full type, this might be a sign the start-up is rolling with the big boys.

The problem, as always, is that labels and publishers prefer to pursue an aggressive legal strategy and protect their shrinking revenues rather than learn from innovative music apps and build new business models.  Read More