Feature Friday: Pick A Song

Our portfolio company Turntable launched their second product yesterday, called Piki. I saw this comment about Piki in a blog post and posted it to my Tumblr:

If you imagine Twitter not for tweets but for songs, you'll arrive at something like Piki.

In Piki parlance, a tweet is a pick. You pick a song and post it to your feed.

Pick a song

Here is my piki feed.

I have been using Piki in private beta for several months and it's quite good. I am listening to Piki right now as I write this post.

Piki is publicly available for iOS and the web app remains in private beta for a few more weeks. Android is next.

And sadly, because the music industry makes it this way for developers who choose to work with them, it is only available in the US right now.

If you are in the US and have an iPhone, give picking a song a try. You can download Piki here.


Comments (Archived):

  1. raycote

    Still no go in Canada !:-(

    1. fredwilson

      i mentioned that in the post. that is not Piki’s fault. getting licenses internationally is very costly.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        And I guess I can understand too why they have to launch Piki on iOS first rather than android although I don’t like it. A game developer recently told me that products launching internationally are less dependent on iOS.

      2. Richard

        Any room for being creative with this issue?

    2. JamesHRH

      See William’s work around above

      1. William Mougayar

        But if you want the US IP to be on your router, you’ll need to fiddle with burning firmware on it from here http://www.dd-wrt.com/site/

  2. Nathaniel Copeland

    I just started using Piki, seems novel and beats the hell out of last.fm, at least as far as social networking based on music is concerned. If Piki chooses to archive data like last.fm does, Piki is going to torpedo them out of the water.

  3. tyronerubin

    sucks that still cant access turntable from South Africa, or anywhere outside the US I guess. I know it sucks for turntable as well. Not complaining , it is the case with netflix, hulu etc for us, so often even a vevo youtube vid will get blocked. Used to pay monthly for an amazing VPN but felt it stopped being worth it.

    1. fredwilson

      trust me, it sucks for turntable more than any individual. you can’t use their service. they can’t access most of their potential customers.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      Same in Europe, it sucks. I use unblock-us.com. It’s only $5/month and all major geographically blocked services work well with it.

    3. Ricardo Diz

      Yeah, I can definitely relate to that…

    4. Donna Brewington White

      I hate that!

  4. jason wright

    is the Moon covered by music IP law?

    1. fredwilson

      the moon?

      1. jason wright

        unfettered Moon fm.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      Of course! not many people know it, but there was a lawyer inside Apollo 11 right next to Armstrong and Aldrin.

    3. JimHirshfield

      Actually I think that’s outside the music industry’s jurisdiction. You’re free to rip all the content you want on the moon. I can’t claim that the acoustics are any good in a vacuum though.#thisisnotlegaladvice

      1. jason wright

        Ah, but does the music industry think it’s outside the music industry’s jurisdiction?

        1. JimHirshfield

          Of course not!

      2. Donna Brewington White

        that hashtag is funny

  5. Richard

    Cool stuff. Anybody know of an API for the album /cd jackets? Does piki have one?

  6. Richard

    Fred, are you carrying an iphone around ?

    1. fredwilson

      Never. I use the web app

      1. kidmercury


      2. Ricardo Diz

        Never is pretty strong word πŸ™‚

        1. fredwilson

          but accurate in this case

      3. ShanaC

        can you use the web app without an iphone first?

      4. JamesHRH

        Do Brad or Albert ever suggest that the next USV investment theme is ‘MacFB will be the Wintel of the next 20 years and we need to fund opportunities that leverage the inherent advantages of the combined platform ‘ ?;-)

        1. fredwilson


  7. JamesHRH

    As a nonUS resident, I’d like to highjack today’s AVC & talk Masters golf.14 year old shot 73 yesterday.53 year old shot 68.At least 20 ‘this person could win ‘ storylines.I am looking @ Justin Rose or Brandt Snedeker to pull it off.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Still basking in a Bulls victory. But the kid is impressive.

      1. fredwilson

        great comeback from being on their heels in the first quarter. the Knicks let them back in and paid for it.

        1. pointsnfigures

          when I saw @kidmercury:disqus’s tweet, no one was sitting in their seats yet and the bad guys were up 23-5.

          1. kidmercury

            yeah after that start i was worried i was going to have to eat my words…..fortunately nate robinson came through big time!

    2. William Mougayar

      James, You can go to Shoppers DrugMart or 7-eleven and get a “Vanilla MasterCard” for $25, then you register it online with a US zipcode. That allows you to have a US iTunes account. Then you get a US VPN service like Unblock-Us or HideMyAss, and that’s it. You fooled them.

  8. Patrick Campi

    Question. Do you only get to hear a snippit of the songs or the whole song…

    1. Richard

      Responded to you above.

    2. fredwilson

      whole songs. except on my profile. the music industry at work again. fuckers.

      1. another cultural landslide

        First off, thanks for the heads up (as usual). And I experience the same thing, dammit.Still, I really like the idea. Willing to see what comes… (thanks again, fred…) k&w

      2. jason wright

        how to win friends and influence people πŸ™‚

  9. pointsnfigures

    One of the hardest parts of innovation is regulation. Artificial constraints. I love how innovators blow up things-they fragment, and then the winners put them back together again until someone else blows them up. It would happen faster, and be better for all of us if governments would just stay the bleep out. Imagine what tv would be like in this generation

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Friction vs. fluidity.

      1. JamesHRH

        Innnovation v. Vested Interests

        1. Matt A. Myers


        2. Matt A. Myers

          Disruption vs. Control

  10. Richard

    Seems like until you repick you only get a snip of the song. The ux/ui seems a little ambiguous at the social level.

    1. fredwilson

      not true. only on a user’s profile.

      1. Richard

        Exactly..I went to other profiles to look at their picks. When i was unfamiliar with the music, I played it within their profiles. (the snip) If i liked the track i would repick it to my profile. Once added to my profile, it plays the full track.

  11. William Mougayar

    It’s interesting that Twitter is also rumored to announce a music app anytime now. http://techcrunch.com/2013/…How different is this stream from following you on ex.fm or soundcloud?

    1. Matthew Tendler

      Side, but related note: as a very avid music listener, We Are Hunted is the bee’s knees. They crawl the internet to put together playlists of what’s hot and what’s not. However, they do it in a way so that you’re provided witha ton of brand new music, not Lady Gaga and the new Biebs song. I expect huge things to come out of the acquisition.

  12. Chris Phenner

    The atomic level of TT.fm seems to have arrived.I am reminded of Soundtracking, Splash.fm and This is My Jam (from Echo Nest). Each offers a different reason to share a single song, socially.One innovation that has come out of the above apps from Soundtracking is the need for these apps to offer ‘DNS for Music,’ which means that users who rely on different services can access the same track within their preferred app.Tomahawk is an open-source effort that Jason Herskowitz has been furthering for a couple years with the same goal. I’m reading AVC.com via Chrome, others presumably are via FFox and other browsers (der). It’s that for music.But if I see a track via FB Ticker, usually shared via Spotify, as an Rdio user I avoid clicking on these links because the post-click experience gives me pause.I am not yet sure there is a standalone app-based business for Song Tweet, but I definitely get the use case as an ingredient feature. Maybe one more of these firms will ‘pull an Aviary’ and go API-only. Soundtracking’s blog buttons are a signal in this direction, where their data becomes more valuable than their UI.And the best part: None of the apps have to chose ‘either/or,’ they can do both and let users and usage decide. Unless they did dumb licensing deals that strip them of cash before they can support the costs of their streams :)Thanks for sharing, good weekends all.Chris

    1. J Herskowitz

      Thanks for the mention Chris. Indeed, the interoperability layer is the big missing link. The other is the syndication and data portability piece so that users don’t have to leave their primary music consumption experience to share it – and have the ability to easily bring those tracks shared with them back into that primary experience of theirs.

  13. ShanaC

    How are you using it?

  14. Friv 2

    Maybe one more of these firms will ‘pull an Aviary’ and go API-only. Soundtracking’s blog buttons are a signal in this direction, where their data becomes more valuable than their UI.

  15. Louis B

    Seems like a “hail mary” pass from this company.People just don’t care about turntable. It was a dumb idea to begin with.Hanging out spinning tunes socially.

    1. fredwilson

      We will see if its a dumb business idea. Its not a dumb experience. I use it every day and love it

      1. Louis B

        You actually sit in a room and connect with other strangers about music?I don’t see a VC doing this.If they are your close friends, it’s doubtful you need turntable to connect with them? You can just email each other or see them in person. And teenagers mostly text.There is only so much time in life and turntable turns out to be a waste of time for most.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Fred also saw the value in sending quick short messages and having the public being able to view them – e.g. Twitter.Just saying..Also, don’t most people waste a lot of time as part of their life? Either as distraction, or entertainment, or relaxation, or serendipity and connecting with strangers?Similarly posting comments on AVC could just as easily be considered a waste of time from someone elses’ context – especially if they have no interest in VC, etc..

        2. Kirsten Lambertsen

          What Louis B fails to understand is that all things are now possible in this new dimension of bikini girls with machine guns.http://youtu.be/8fyr0zbaFyE

        3. Richard

          What you are missing is that this gives you a reason to reach out to your friend, give him a pat on the back and say great song! For the introvert, this works.

        4. fredwilson

          i didn’t know any of them when i started but i have met many awesome people that way. a number of them have become friends. that’s the internet. that’s what it is best for. meeting people with shared interests. that is what happens here at AVC every day. turntable is just like that.

          1. Louis B

            That’s because you have a stake in the Turntable company.Again, I can guarantee you this will not work on a bigger level. The numbers dont’ lie.You can meet people with shared interests on most sites these days.Turntable is doing nothing different. Nor is Piki. Sorry.You are a smart man, but music is tough. Always has been, even in the hayday.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Just curious – how old are you? Wondering age demographic you’re in, is all.

          3. JamesHRH

            Turntable’s biggest issue is licensing – a global site of hardcore tune meisters would be a very good business.Music is a multicultural language – kind of like math.If the turntable community ever breaks a big band, its a homerun.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            I think you are right. The global thing is a huge issue. Some of the most ardent users I’ve met while on tt.fm are people from other countries who found a way to get in.I wonder what they would do about language once global.

          5. Matthew Tendler

            I’m sorry to be the pessimist but can’t help myself here. How could you possibly say the biggest issue is licensing when time and time again the same problem is reported by people that have actively tried to enjoy turntable: The platform is simply not sticky. It’s too demanding from a UX standpoint, there are too many other places to find music, the crowd in the rooms are sometimes snobby. Growth to other countries is not going to change these fundamental flaws in any way shape or form. If people were saying, “I love turntable but I wish there were more international people djing” then yes, licensing in other countries is the biggest hurdle.

          6. JamesHRH

            a snobby global niche is a good business, even if that is all turntable turns out to be.

        5. Donna Brewington White

          “I don’t see a VC doing this.”Ha! You’d be surprised. I’ve hung out with Fred in the Indie While You Work room. In fact, I’m hanging out there now while writing a proposal. Thankfully none of my friends are in there right now or it would be hard to get work done.

      2. Richard

        Can you roll though the best ux? Do u stay in the player tab? The me tab? Search for people to follow? Repick? How is the player stream created? How does one add the song in the player tab to their me tab?

    2. kidmercury

      #ohsnap #brutal #ouch

    3. Dave Pinsen

      It is a “pivot”, which is sort of like a hail mary.I disagree about Turntable being a dumb idea to begin with. I think the idea was clever, and I got sucked in for hours the first time I tried it, but it wasn’t sticky enough for me.Disqus is sticky. You can check to see comments left by those you follow, or to see if someone responded to one of yours.Blogs like AVC.com are sticky. You come back to see what Fred blogs about, and what the regulars have to say about it.Twitter is sticky. It’s the connected world’s pulse.Turntable? No. Not for me, at least. Every room has its own rules, and its own zealots to enforce them. Some expect you to like everyone else’s song picks even if you don’t. I find it too attention-demanding to deal with while I’m working.If I owned a coffee shop or a lounge, I’d be tempted to set up Turntable to let my customers pick the music, but I get the feeling that’s an idea that would work better in theory than RL.

      1. Ciaran

        It was/is Havbo Hotel for people who should know better

        1. Dave Pinsen

          What’s Havbo Hotel?

          1. Ciaran

            Sorry, meant Habbo Hotel. The original teen social network

      2. Montgomery Kosma

        I recently met the Rockbot team here in SF. They have this coffeehouse jukebox platform rolling out in various SF venues now. I’m looking forward to finding a spot that has it. My local coffee outfit is just (illegally) using Pandora.Is it just me or is Disqus fundamentally broken on Android? Typing response is impossibly bad. It took me nearly five minutes to write this.

  16. RichardF

    As I can’t access piki outside of the US can someone explain to me how it differs substantially from last.fm or ex.fm.”its twitter but for songs” I thought that was a no no when it comes to “the pitch” πŸ˜‰

  17. Jan Schultink

    I am not so convinced of “social” in music.Most social web content sharing is distraction/entertainment: you open up your Twitter feed to see what’s interesting and consume/watch small bits of relatively unrelated contentMusic is different though, it runs in the background and usually you want a steady stream of music that fits whatever you are doing that moment.The winning service will be some playlist engine managed by curators-who-have-time-for-this-or-are-payed-for-this that can interface with multiple streaming services. Pandora is too mechanical, Songza has too limited a selection.Re. multiple streaming services. Maybe the music industry should simply agree on a unique identifier for a song that is standardised, and that you can use to access a song on whatever streaming service you are using.

    1. Matthew Tendler

      Spotify offers a solution to every need you listed.

      1. kidmercury

        agreed. spotify has the social thing down. i’m skeptical they’ll be able to monetize sufficiently though, let alone at what their garagantuan valuation is demanding.

        1. Matthew Tendler

          Not me. I’d sooner leave Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (free networks) than leave my premium Spotify. I get more value in one day from Spotify than all three, combined.Many of my friends (not all hardcore music fans) share my sentiment. That kind of devotion can’t be measured high enough. β€”Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

          1. kidmercury

            i don’t dispute that you and other premium subscribers are getting great value, i just wonder how much money they can really make after licensing fees, streaming costs, etc. that is of course just a hunch as i have no idea what their numbers are actually like.

          2. Matthew Tendler

            Was trying to demonstrate price inelasticity through value; why I’m not worried they’ll make/net mega bucksSent from Mailbox for iPhone

      2. Jan Schultink

        OK, I will dig deeper in the app. Somehow can’t find the right type of playlists.

  18. laurie kalmanson

    interesting; i read/retweet random interesting things (ux, science machines) on twitter; something as lightweight for music would solve the discovery issue of being out of school for a while (ahem). i would like a service that curates/presents music i can discover, but not necessarily with the sharing. itunes radio does a nice job of streaming electronica, and i have bought/songs albums after hearing it there. i like turntable but i would like it better if playlists were easily discoverable after the fact; ie, i could load up a list, buy the songs … not so much the being in the room. spotify: don’t want; too much noise

  19. pointsnfigures

    if volume of comments signals potential success of a business, I like foursquare over Turntable. Maybe we should develop a business around gun control/guns?!

    1. kidmercury

      no worries i’m sure silicon valley will be all over the contracts to build the apps to digitally track gun sales and report them back

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Oh Kid, that avatar. You keep me alert.

        1. kidmercury

          lol i’m really enjoying my new avatar! like the digital version of getting a new outfit πŸ™‚

    2. Montgomery Kosma

      There are very few startups doing anything in this area. Even though guns are a $6bn market with $1bn profits. What do you think accounts for the lack of attention?

  20. morefromalan

    How does it compare with blip.fm

  21. ariel seidman

    It’s a very interesting take on social music that doesn’t take as much effort as Turntable.The app has too many features for my taste. I would love to see them simplify just as Foursquare recently did this week.

  22. Donna Brewington White

    Just signed up on the web version. Love it!

  23. William Mougayar

    I finally downloaded Piki on the iPhone, and it’s a terrific app. It has so many nifty features that I haven’t seen elsewhere, and I use different music apps. I think they nailed the social aspects, discovery, search, sharing, friends’ lists, etc… The UX is very innovative with a rich functionality. I’m hooked on it already, and this will be my go-to Music app for now.

  24. Joe Lazarus

    I like the idea of Piki, but I haven’t yet figured out how to best use it. Admittedly, I haven’t spent a lot of time in the app, but I think they could do a bit more to explain their features. I don’t really understand how to influence the music the app recommends for me. Is it based on people I follow, in which case I’m likely to only follow people with similar tastes in music vs all my real world friends. Do my picks influence the music I’m suggested or is my stream of music based more on the artists I plug into the “tune radio” screen a la Pandora? Do “reactions” influence the music I hear or is that just feedback for the person who picked the track?

  25. Ciaran

    “It’s quite good”. I’m probably reading too much into your choice of language, but that strikes me as damning with faint praise. The service also seems remarkably like British start-up This is My Jam, which I found to have a relatively short shelf life.

  26. Techman

    Only for iOS? Well that sucks.

    1. fredwilson

      Agreed. Android soon but not soon enough

  27. dj syndicate

    i know dj kids who liked turntable in the beginning, but they all left the service.it’s just cold feeling compared to live dj experience. that’s the problem with turntable.face it, dj culture is about escaping with drugs, having sex, etc. doing this in a room on a computer doesn’t work.

  28. Kirsten Lambertsen

    “…dj culture is about escaping with drugs, having sex, etc. doing this in a room on a computer doesn’t work.”Speak for yourself!

  29. Donna Brewington White

    It’s not DJ culture. Maybe some, but mostly, it’s music lovers.

  30. Donna Brewington White

    Thank you!

  31. jason wright

    s/he speaking to her/ himself