Among music industry executives of a certain age, the name ‘Michael Robertson’ may cause a shiver. His past ventures including MP3·com and MP3tunes sparked high-profile lawsuits from music rightsholders. In recent years, he’s been focusing on online radio, with services including DAR·fm and Uberstations.
Now he has another new venture called TuneRoom which with its avatar-based chatrooms is distinctly reminiscent of early-2010s service Turntable·fm.
“In just seconds anyone can host an online party for any occasion with 2-1000 attendees. Select a venue, pick a musical theme and then send invites to party goers and the party is on,” explains TuneRoom’s announcement release. The music comes from nearly 100,000 online radio stations, but there’s an element of user choice too: people can search for songs they’d like to hear, and also vote off the current track that’s playing.
People in the chatroom then get a choice of three new songs, and whichever most vote for is played next – by switching to a radio station that’s currently playing it.
Turning radio broadcasts into semi-on-demand streams won’t be welcomed by rightsholders, but Robertson more than anyone will have run through the legal implications.
TuneRoom’s main challenge may be whether enough people want it. Even when this kind of thing has been built on Spotify (where it truly was on-demand) it had a relatively limited appeal.
Even so, we’ll be keen to see if TuneRoom can find an audience. It’s currently running a topical promotion aimed at high-school students in the US, specifically those who are graduating this year, but who because of the Covid-19 pandemic, are unlikely to get the chance to enjoy physical graduation ceremonies.
TuneRoom has created rooms for each of more than 25,000 high schools, and hopes to make them ‘the unofficial after party’ for YouTube’s big ‘Dear Class of 2020’ online event on 6 June.
We’ve created a Music Ally TuneRoom to test the service out: feel free to drop in and say hello to whoever else is visiting in the coming days…