We've written a few times about the wonders of Turntable.fm
, one of the first new music services that really seems to get
the fact that part of what makes music so enjoyable is the social experience. It's a wonderful service. However, as with anything that gets a lot of users and attention, it isn't long before copycats come along. And, as Eliot van Buskirk has reported, Turntable.fm has a copycat in the form of Rolling.fm
, a service that almost certainly chose to copy an awful lot from Turntable.fm.
Of course, as with many "copycats," it appears that Rolling.fm has tried to add some features that sound useful, "such as the ability to see who is in a room in one big list, and a private chat feature that lets you speak directly to Facebook friends even if they’re in a different room." But I tend to agree with Eliot in noting that this is not a bad thing:
Who cares? The world needs all the neat ways to listen to music it can get, from where we’re standing. It’s a case of “the more the merrier” — even if Rolling.fm is quite possibly the least original web app we’ve ever seen.
It’s also a case of “different strokes for different folks.”
The Rolling.fm group-listening web app differs from Turntable.fm in that many of the most popular rooms correlate to specific colleges and universities (although anyone can join those rooms). And so far, we’re hearing far clubbier and less indie music than we generally hear on Turntable.fm.
Who knows — we could be just about to witness an explosion of group listening services, each with its own twist on the Turntable.fm concept that will appeal to a different demographic. While Turntable.fm deserves ample credit for coming up with the concept, it can’t really be bad for music fans if that concept continues to be replicated as it has been here…
I'd go even further than that. Copycats like this actually help everyone, including Turntable.fm. Not only does it help spread the concept even further, but Turntable.fm can just as equally learn from the "improvements" a copycat makes. On top of that, this will help keep Turntable.fm on its toes. As much as I love the service, and as much as I understand that it's very much in beta and at times struggles with the amount of usage it gets, the service has been really buggy at times and having some direct competition in the rear view mirror can only act as an incentive to improve as quickly as possible.
Last year, we wrote about Oded Shenkar's excellent book Copycats
, which argues, persuasively, that our cultural distaste towards companies that copy one another is misplaced and not very sensible. There are tremendous benefits to be had when two or more companies copy each other, mainly in that it continues to push all players to innovate and to provide better overall offerings. While I haven't been able to test out Rolling.fm yet (it was down when I went to check it out), I think this development is really good news
for Turntable.fm and hope that the company is willing to recognize that as well.