The Turntable Wars were one of the more fascinating stories to emerge in 2021 startup land (although I suspect those involved may dispute the issue). After years away, the much-loved but bygone collaborative music streaming service returned for a population that had been confined for a year due to a global pandemic.
However, things got really interesting when a second claimant of the thrown Turntable showed up. There was Turntable.fm, resurrected from the original service by founder Billy Chasen, joined by “Turntable” or “Turntable.org”, which could be found on tt.fm (they were both technically just “Turntable”, but we used “Turntable.fm” and “tt.fm” to avoid confusion). That was founded by early Turntable.fm contributor Joseph Perla. However, whether Perla also deserved the title of co-founder is strongly disputed by Chasen.
A few months after the Turntable.fm relaunch, Chasen announced that the service had raised $7.5 million, led by Andreessen Horowitz, adding to a war chest that had so far been the product of fundraising through services like Patreon and Venmo. The following month, tt.fm was launched as a beta app.
That service has since been renamed Turntable LIVE (all caps being their style, but honestly not the worst idea, all things considered), along with the new URL, turntablelive.com (“Turntable Live”, incidentally, was also the name of a Turntable.fm pivot). This week, the company announced its own seed round just north of $7 million, led by Founders Fund and f7 Ventures. The news also finds a trio of advisors joining, including Julia Tang (ex-Discord, Instagram), George Howard (Tune Core), and Jonathan Hull (ex-Facebook).
A release linked to the news pulls no punches: “Turntable LIVE, created by Joseph Perla, has become what Perla explained more than a decade ago. If the name sounds familiar, you might remember an old, outdated turntable, which collapsed under disagreements between co-founders and didn’t launch with global music licenses or a mobile app. TurntableLive.com is a brand new company that does things right.”
A perfectly normal paragraph in a press release about a financing round.
Turntable.fm is still very much online, although the company has been quiet on the social front. A few months ago, the team launched ‘Sup’, a free app that describes its function as follows: ‘Record and share audio clips playing on your friends’ phone, even when their screen is locked. Conversation is more than text. Speak, be heard, say it out loud.”
Based on the above names, it is clear that Turntable LIVE’s approach leans far in the social direction. “We made Turntable LIVE with a positive sum approach in mind,” Perla says in a release. “People need joyful, meaningful social experiences online: music can facilitate that. And music needs more and more compelling ways to reach and bring people together. Turntable LIVE achieves both, as one of the first truly participatory places online for music enjoyment and real-time social interaction.”
The service is still on an invite-only waitlist, with a public version launching later this year. You can register by entering your number here.