A new era in music services is dawning, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
A new way to get free music.
ARCHIVE your vinyl platters, stow your CDS and ditch song downloads.
A new wave of musicstreaming services is crashing on to Australian shores promising cheap access to millions of songs without any physical purchase.
Two international songstreaming offers arrived recently, including one from the founders of Skype and Kazaa, joining another two services launched late last year.
One leading European music service, Spotify, is also tipped to join them in Australia next month.
Subscription music proponents say the new services will one day replace digital downloads and CDS, calling them ‘‘ the future of music’’.
Experts estimate the trend could generate more than $ 260 million a year in Australia by 2015.
Rather than selling songs for users to download and own, the new services let users ‘‘ stream’’ the songs over the internet, playing the songs as they download in a manner similar to Youtube.
Users can bookmark their favourite songs and add them to playlists but cannot keep the tracks on their devices.
Subscription music service Rdio kicked off the 2012 musicstreaming trend in Australia, quietly unveiling web and phone- based services in January, followed by an official launch late last week. Created by Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, Rdio offers subscribers access to more than 12 million songs and encourages them to discover and share new tracks.
Rdio chief executive Drew Larner says unlike the duo’s file- sharing creation Kazaa [‘‘ it was a different world at the time’’], all tracks available on Rdio are ‘‘ legal and licensed’’ and available for a monthly subscription fee.
Music can be streamed from Rdio over the web or through a mobile phone app, with Apple, Android, Windows and Blackberry smartphones covered.
Larner says Rdio chose to launch its service in Australia due to the country’s high music consumption and aggressive mobile phone uptake.
Rara. com, which followed Rdio’s launch by two days, is also targeting Australia’s smartphone users, director Ruuben van den Heuvel says.
Its music library is available on the web and through a Google Android app.
Van den Heuvel says it will take time for music lovers to realise streaming services ‘‘ do so much more than a physical CD’’ but predicts the straightforward services will speed up the transition.
Competition for Australian listeners could further intensify soon, as one source tells Eguide to expect European giant Spotify to arrive in March. A spokesman acknowledges the rumours but says there has been no date set.
Music lovers paid to download more than 3.6 billion pieces of music last year, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, representing an annual increase of 17 per cent.
Similarly, the Australian music market is expected to reach $ 800 million by 2015, according to the Telsyte Digital Goods and Subscription Market report, with a big push from song subscriptions.
‘‘ The majority of those sales will still be music downloads but we anticipate that roughly a third of that $ 800 million will be for streaming services,’’ Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says.
The mass popularity of streaming songs could come with a catch, though.
While downloading an occasional song is unlikely to stump Australia’s mobile phone network, mass music streaming could ‘‘ put significant pressure on the network, particularly during peak times,’’ Fadaghi says. JB HI- FI NOW The retail chain expanded into the music- streaming field late last year and is offering users the chance to try its service without charge for a month. Users can stream songs from more than 100,000 artists at now. jbhifi. com. au. JB Hi- Fi has yet to make the service available to smartphones and currently offers three or six- month subscriptions. Price: $ 25 for three months ( web only). SAMSUNG MUSIC HUB Launching in October last year, Samsung’s music- streaming service can deliver tunes to smartphones, tablets, PCS and even net- connected TVS, as long as they’re from the Samsung brand. Songs from all four major record companies are available for streaming through the Samsung Music Hub app and users can download playlists to phones over wi- fi to avoid bill shock. Price: $ 9.99 ( mobile) or $ 14.99 ( four devices and web) a month. SPOTIFY The popular Swedish creation is available in more than 13 countries and offers three tiers of music- streaming subscriptions. Users can listen to millions of songs from major and independent record companies and share their favourites on social networks. Rumoured to be launching in Australia next month. Price: $ US9.99 a month ( web and mobile).