A new era in mu­sic ser­vices is dawn­ing, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

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).

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