Turntable.fm has announced that it is sunsetting Piki.fm, which the company described as a “laid back” alternative to its better known social networking service. Here’s from tt.fm Billy Chasen’s latest blog post:
“I’m also sad to announce today that we are going to shut down Piki in a couple weeks. We poured ourselves into it and built a really amazing product powered by people picking songs. However it just didn’t have the traction that we were hoping for, so we are closing it to fully focus on Turntable. We are sending out an email today to Piki users and there’s a method to export your data to Spotify or CSV file.”
Indeed, I gave Piki a whirl and didn’t come back myself. But the problem, as turntable.fm exec Seth Goldstein put it at a conference some months ago, is that Turntable eats up too much of your attention.
“I wish [Turntable.fm] was more background,” Goldstein explained. “In a way I think there are a lot of passive services that aim to be more engaging. We have the opposite problem. It’s really engaging for a small community. Because typically, if you use Turntable, you go in and you get addicted, and spend four days of your life not doing much of anything else. And then you say, ‘I just can’t do this any more. I’ve got to get back to my life.’ Right?”
Turntable appears to have been struggling. Royalties has been a huge issue, Chasen discloses:
“Early on, we decided to partner with the labels and do everything by the book. There were pros and cons to this. One of the biggest cons is it has been very expensive. We spend tens of thousands of dollars a month in royalties, service fees, hosting, etc. We could have removed a ton of that cost by just simply using YouTube or another service, but we felt it would dramatically reduce the ease of use and user experience.”
Since then the company has rolled out a paid tier service (GOLD), posts ads in rooms, foregrounds live collaborations, and is now making it easier to upload content via SoundCloud:
“One of our most requested features from the beginning has been to integrate SoundCloud search into our library. Turntable has always been a place to find new music, and part of that has been powered by people getting tracks from SoundCloud and then uploading them to Turntable. Doing that removed our ability to link to the original creator and doesn’t properly credit the track. Yesterday we released a change that made that much easier.
The other benefits to playing SoundCloud songs is there is no DMCA limit as they are being powered by SoundCloud and there’s no 30 second cutoff for the same reason.”