Business News Digital Top Stories to go offline, company to focus on pay-to-view sessions

By | Published on Monday 25 November 2013 is turning off its core service in a week’s time, it was announced on Friday. It brings to an end a two and half year adventure, and a service that enjoyed rapid worldwide attention while in beta in 2011, but which saw user numbers slide as geographical and then functional limitations were put in place to bring the service inline with copyright law.

The firm’s founders were pretty candid all along about the tricky financial challenges they faced once they started signing deals with the record companies and the music publishing sector’s collecting societies in the US to legitimise their service, which allowed users to become virtual DJs by playing MP3s to friends over the net.

Confirming in a blog post that was about to be switched off, the service’s operators wrote on Friday: “It was a tough decision to make because we love this community so much, but the cost of running a music service has been too expensive and we can’t outpace it with our efforts to monetise it and cut costs”. Users have a week to continue using the platform, and to export their personal playlists to Spotify or an XML file.

Presumably having realised early on that they had made that common mistake of launching an expensive-to-run music service on a free-to-use basis (leaving you with the options of persuading users that they should start paying you for something they are used to having for free, or becoming an ad sales company, or using your core music set-up as a loss-leader for something else), the team have been dabbling with other business ideas too.

The one they now plan to focus on is an online gig experience, where bands play a session in the Turntable studio and fans, who pay to watch live over the net, can interact with the artist and each other, so a live music second-screening experience presented through one screen. Whether that’s a service fans will pay for remains to be seen, though the set up costs are relatively low, even though signed artists will have to cut their label into the action. And Team Turntable say pilot pay-to-view sessions have gone well.