It seems to be nothing but good news for Turntable.fm. Hot on the heels ofsnagging licensing deals with BMI and ASCAP
, the music-sharing service is closing a $7.5 million deal with Union Square Ventures, bringing Turntable's value up to somewhere around $37.5 million. That's not all,
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It's still unclear exactly why Gaga and West would invest, but considering both of them have been utilizing and controlling their social image over the last two years, it makes sense they'd be interested in locking pockets with a startup like this. We can already see the Gaga controlled rooms of the future playing nothing but Madonna.
What exactly does all this mean? Nothing, yet. While Turntable has done a good job of securing licensing rights for the music, it still needs to qualify as a non-interactive streaming radio service (a la Pandora) on par with DMCA protection by the Copyright Act of 1998. If they qualify, they'll be good with ASCAP and BMI licenses, but they'll still need SESAC and EMI -- if they don't qualify as non-interactive, they'll need to reach out the same rights from all the different record labels, the same roadblock Spotify came across last year. The difference between interactive and non-interactive is slightly counter-intuitive.
Non-interactive is more like Pandora, where an algorithm picks your songs for you, interactive means you pick the songs. It's unclear exactly which Turntable.fm will fall under, since it incorporates both.
The investment means Turntable.fm can continue expanding and searching for means to generate actual capitol. Thankfully, Union Square Ventures has a good track with this type of thing, having invested in the likes of Disqus, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Soundcloud, Zynga, Twitter and others.
Despite the question about legality, the service has been getting rave reviews from a variety of sources. Notably, it's the first service to actually utilize the ridiculous term, "social music" to a logical extreme. It's also taken off far quicker than anyone suspected -- netting more than 300,000 registered users since launching in May.