It’s rare that apps come back from the dead, but it seems like that may be what’s happening with Turntable.fm, a site that let users create their own radio stations and DJ sets with music they curated before it got shuttered in 2013. Even rarer, it seems like there are two versions involved in the revival: the original Turntable.fm site is back up and running (with the involvement of its original founder, Billy Chasen), but there’s also Turntable.org, which will reportedly be launching in beta this April.
The two sites seem to be taking different directions: Turntable.org, the new version, mentions there will be a subscription fee (perhaps not a bad idea, given the fate of the first version), while the original seems to be largely unchanged from the one that shut down in 2013. While the original founder has confirmed he’s involved with the .fm version, the .org version also has OGs working on it: the Our Team section mentions an original Turntable founding member as well as the artist who designed the original avatars in 2011.
- <img src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/wLBkLNV5rkOjS4k9qSbzGd_OVxc=/250×250/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/22345819/Screen_Shot_2021_03_04_at_11.32.40_AM.png" alt="Turntable.fm 2020″ /> Turntable.fm 2020 Screenshot: The Verge
- <img src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/-j7pfIwc2n9TavsD73p27-v1f4w=/250×250/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/22345896/Screen_Shot_2021_03_04_at_11.49.17_AM.png" alt="Turntable.fm in 2013.” /> Turntable.fm in 2013. Image: JustAnotherDesigner on YouTube
- <img src="https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/uY_JXHmaommMj3wehhzrVrMDZM0=/250×250/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/22345825/Screen_Shot_2021_03_04_at_11.26.46_AM.png" alt="A screenshot on Turntable.org” /> A screenshot on Turntable.org Image: Turntable.org
The original app, and the current Turntable.fm, lets you create a virtual room, then select what music you want to play for anyone listening. At the moment, the song selection seems to be limited to what’s available on YouTube, so you probably won’t be able to sneakily slide in your mixtape. There appears to be a SoundCloud integration that’s not working yet.
Also, the whole site seems to be phasing in and out of existence, perhaps due to word of its return getting around:
Assuming you can find your way in, the audience can chat about your great (or awful) song selections. You can also co-DJ with collaborators, if you feel like riffing off a friend, or co-worker. While the app looks much the same as it used to, there are some 2021 updates: my avatar has a mask on, and there are GameStop stickers available for DJ’s virtual laptops.
Nyan Cat and GameStop are both weirdly relevant in 2021.Screenshot: The Verge
Turntable.fm shut down in 2013, after a drawn-out fight for survival that we watched closely, hoping that the app would make it. Every piece of news since seemed to point to it never coming back, but today, the site popped back up again, asking for a password to gain access. To get access to the password, the site requests that you send an email including your favorite song (it says it’ll let you in if it’s a good song, so there go my chances).
The original site was loved by many, including us here at The Verge, and it’s a welcome surprise to see it back. The world, especially the music industry, has changed a lot since 2013, and it remains to be seen what, if any, lessons Turntable.fm and Turntable.org take from the first go-around and from the replacements that have popped up since its demise. Turntable.fm’s About page still boasts that it’s music selected by people, not algorithms, which may be just the new / old thing I needed today.