As I told the New York Times last week, one of the most crucial things about the group listening room Turntable.fm is the way it lets DJs upload any MP3 from their collections and play it for the crowd, in addition to selecting from a pre-filled catalog of millions of songs.
This is such a great feature precisely because it allows superfans with ultra-rare stuff, such as unlicensed mash-ups, show off the exclusive nature of their music collections while allowing listeners to enjoy something they probably can’t hear anywhere.
One of the most popular rooms in the entire Turntable.fm fiefdom is Mashup Mania
also known as mashup.fm — the first room to which I’ve ever been denied entry (see image above). The thing is, mash-ups tend not to be licensed, in part because it’s so difficult to secure the rights to A) make a derivative work out of two copyrighted songs and B) distribute that song.
As Turntable.fm picks up steam — as can only happen after recent coverage in the New York Times, CNN, and elsewhere — Mashup Mania could be the first victim of the possible lame-ification of the service, which might be necessary to allow it to survive.
The copyright critics at Techdirt have a vision for Turntable.fm where it becomes a central hub for fans to meet high-profile artists and buy their stuff, making oodles of money for everyone by putting merchandise ads in the right place. But before that can happen in Turntable.fm, or any similar service, it will have to clear the same copyright hurdles everyone else has to clear. This popular mash-up room could be the first casualty of that process.