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RAIN 2/17: Sony music subscription service lands

Posted on: 02/17/2011


Sony has launched their Music Unlimited subscription streaming service in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand. Sony’s interactive radio service costs $4 a month — providing “ad-free Pandora-like radio streaming” — while an on-demand service is available for $10 per month. Sony also allows you to “scan” your own library to get your Music Unlimited service started.

Sony launched the service in the U.K. and Ireland late last year (RAIN coverage here).

Engadget reports the service will be available on the PlayStation 3, Blu-ray disc players, Bravia televisions, and VAIO PCs — basically all Sony devices. It will also soon arrive on Android and iOS devices later this year, “assuming Apple’s new subscription debacle doesn’t derail Sony’s plans” (RAIN coverage here). Find Engadget‘s full article here.


Quickly on the heels of Apple’s announced in-app subscription sales plan (reported in RAIN here), Google has announced its own Google One Pass service. And not only does Google only keep 10% (as opposed to Apple’s 30%), it allows publishers to set their own prices and subscription terms on the platform.

Music subscription services like Rhapsody cried foul when Apple announced the terms of its service (see RAIN here). Licensing fees for music subscription services leave margins of far less than 30% as it is. With Apple’s take — plus the restriction that subscriptions for sale in a mobile app must be priced identically to those sold on the service’s web site — companies like Rhapsody would end up losing money on each sale.

However, in Google’s system, certain customer information (their names, zip codes and e-mail addresses) is automatically shared with publishers, unless the customer actively “opts out.” Apple requires customers to “opt in” and explicitly agree to share such data when purchasing a subscription. “That means,” reports The Economist, “less information is likely to come publishers’ way in Apple’s ecosystem than in Google’s one.”

Forrester Research’s James McQuivey writes in PaidContent.org (here): “Right now there is no competition in this market. Apple owns more than 90% of the tablet PC business and is therefore immune to the effects of competition, at least for now. But as we’ve seen in the phone business, it only took Android a few years to catch up and I expect the same to happen in tablets. When it does, Apple will have to reevalute its 30% price. But will it land on Google’s 10%?”


Listener Driven Radio’s crowd-sourced service — where listeners control a station’s playlist by voting online — is coming to Bonneville’s WTMX-FM/Chicago. The station will debut the program as “U-Mix-It” at 8pm Central tonight.

Listener Driven Radio was founded and is managed by McVay Media’s Daniel Anstandig and Mike McVay along with Media One Group’s and Sonicbids’ Lee Zapis. Here’s the press release.


Radio group Townsquare Media this week launched Top 40-based streaming music portal site PopCrush.

The site has reportedly quickly racked up over 12,000 fans on Facebook, and follows the broadcaster’s TasteOfCountry.com site, launched in December (in RAIN here).

Inside Radio reports Townsquare Media is hyping PopCrush on its 12 CHR and 10 Hot AC stations, plus relying on “viral” promotion. Local salespeople can sell inventory on the two sites, and the group is considering creating even more genre-based properties.

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