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When does YouTube become radio? When it’s on

Everybody knows that YouTube competes with broadcast radio for music listeners. A Nielsen survey posted a little over a year ago reported that more teens listen to music through YouTube than through AM/FM radio, 64 and 56 percent, respectively. Most of that YouTubeing isn’t an audience based affair, however. It is listeners creating their own individual playlists and, well, sitting around listening to YouTube, mostly by themselves.

The Tastycat room.

The “Tastycat” room

But yesterday a Radio Survivor reader tipped me to a social media music service that takes YouTube to a new level: is a lot like (it has been called a knockoff more than once). As with Turntable, it allows you to create avatars, construct listening rooms, and DJ the rooms with your avatar-powered friends. But also lets you search from YouTube, which has hesitated to do.’s Billy Chasen explained this reasoning in a Tuesday blog post:

“Early on, we decided to partner with the labels and do everything by the book.  There were pros and cons to this.  One of the biggest cons is it has been very expensive.  We spend tens of thousands of dollars a month in royalties, service fees, hosting, etc.  We could have removed a ton of that cost by just simply using YouTube or another service, but we felt it would dramatically reduce the ease of use and user experience.”

Apparently users have also been begging to allow SoundCloud searches for a while. Advantages include avoiding play limits and annoying 30 second cutoffs imposed by DMCA rules. As of Chasen’s post, now allows for SoundCloud searches, but YouTube still appears to be off the table (so to speak, although there is the unofficial Turntable Tube plugin).

So if you want a Turntablesque experience via YouTube, is the place to go. The effect is very dramatic. reverses the room presentation. Instead of facing the deejays, you face the avatar audience and the avatar deejays face them too. The YouTube music videos are positioned up on top of the room, sort of like the vids that you see on stage above the bands during rock concerts.

This turns YouTube into radio—that is, into an audience based event. It’s kind of wonderful, I think (except when the YouTube ads show up, but whatever). I’ve set up my own room called Hybrid Highbrow, which is a room dedicated to classical, jazz, opera, and Broadway music. That’s a YouTube of Maria Callas in the picture below. All the playlists so far are based on YouTube searches.

Unlike the Tastycat room shown above, Hybrid Highbrow doesn’t have a lot of participants yet. If you love the aforementioned genres, help me make it a success!

My Hybrid Highbrow room; nobody but me there so far [sniff].

My Hybrid Highbrow room; nobody but me there so far [sniff].

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