Look, don’t get me wrong. I love music. I love streaming radio. I had a variety talk/music streaming radio show for many years, and worked at some of the finest internet streaming radio institutions with my SiliconANGLE co-worker Art Lindsey and many other folks I still hang out with online.
But this Turntable.FM thing? I’m not loving it. At all.
I’ve said this many places online, but I apparently haven’t said here on my blog yet: I loved Turntable.FM when it was invented 12 years ago, and it was called Shoutcast.
Yes, Shoutcast later was bought by AOL-Time Warner (now just “Aol.”). Yes, they totally let the product languish in obscurity. That still doesn’t change the fact that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people used the product then (and now), and it had the ability to be social through the use of chat, server interaction, and plain ol’ talking to the DJ.
In essence, people were doing on their own with Shoutcast a decade ago what Turntable rolled out a month or so ago.
Yet this hasn’t stopped The Next Web, for instance, from naming Turntable the “most exciting social service of the year.” It also hasn’t stopped what is essentially a glorified streaming radio service from seeking a mind-boggling $5-10 million in venture funding after only landing a measly 300,000 users.
“How can you be such a dick about this, Rizzn?” I hear you asking. “Have you noticed? This thing has a freakin’ awesome button! What can be better than that?”
You got me there. Shoutcast didn’t have an awesome button. Instead, it had (through the use of popular DJing tool SAM2) the ability to totally automate and script a clockwheel and play songs based on popularity. Also, a nice perk of using Shoutcast as opposed to Turntable’s implementation: you can actually hear music you assemble into a playlist, regardless of how many people are listening.
Turntable.fm is an unoriginal idea that was eclipsed almost a decade ago by other more social (and less locked in) technologies.
Shoutcast, in case you didn’t know, consumes mostly MP3s, and outputs an MP3 stream (amongst other formats). That means any device that has a connection to the Internet and a media player can play the output. You don’t need a smartphone, you don’t need a desktop, and you don’t need a tablet. In many cases, a simple WiFi enable MP3 player or a feature phone will suffice.
It doesn’t have an Awesome button in all implementations, but it’s less restricted and more accessible.
You know what I think it is? I think it’s that I’m getting older and I remember stuff that’s happened before most of the social media professionals and pundits these days weren’t even alive for. The person in question on the Twitter exchange pictured above doesn’t have that excuse (he’s apparently older than me, according to his Facebook page), but most of the youngsters blogging for high profile tech blogs were barely aware of the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground when I started in tech professionally.
Martin Bryant, for instance, was the author of The Next Web post that lauded Turntable so loudly. He’s a great writer (as are most of the authors at that blog), but he was born in 1991 (again, according to his Facebook page). That means he was eight years old when Shoutcast was first released.
What he sees as “the coolest ideas since folders were invented for email clients,” I see as a stripped down and feature-poor version of something I played with extensively a decade ago. Perhaps that makes me a geezer, old fashioned, and automatically wrong, but all I’ll say to that is to kindly to get the hell off my lawn, and turn that garbage music with the Awesome button down before I call the cops.