PaidContent: The Celestial Jukebox: Unlimited Music Services Face Off

Great overview of current unlimited music services by


The Celestial Jukebox: Unlimited Music Services Face Off

Our run-down of runners and riders in the emerging field of unlimited, on-demand subscription music services. Read the preamble.

Service Region Users Subs Catalog Tier 1 Tier 2 Info Chances
UK, Swe, Nor, Fin, Fra, Spa, Hol 7m+ 500,000 “Millions” Free: Ads, up to 20hrs/pm. £4.99pm: No ads, unltd app streaming. £9.99pm: No ads, unlimited streaming, mobile access, offline and overseas play, 320Kbps. Typically slick Swedish software innovation, much loved in Europe, Scandinavia. Clock ticking in US. Must find carrier partners amongst mobile, TV, other sectors fast in all territories or risk remaining a startup.
US beta 5m $4.99pm: Unlimited web streaming. $9.99pm: Unlimited web streaming and mobile access. Assembled by Skype/Joost entrepreneurs Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom. Very similar feature set to Spotify, but boasts critical US headstart.
US 675,000 at Q409. 9.5m $9.99pm Rhapsody Premier: Unlimited PC or web streaming, 1 device. $14.99pm Rhapsody Premier: Unlimited PC or web streaming, 3 devices inc mobile/MP3. “Grossing $130m a year and will be profitable by the end of the year” Declining userbase, but still possibly the biggest service right now. Spin-off from Real will lend it focus.
US, soon UK Won’t disclose. Won’t disclose. 8m Free social web features. Unlimited web streaming $5pm via All Access sub. $9.99 for mobile access including All Access web sub. Built atop a web ads network and copious social web features that means strong community and staff-led discovery. Being web-based rather than an app gives it desktop portability (ie. office, home PC, laptop).
US, Can, UK, Ger Won’t disclose. Won’t disclose. 10m Unlimited streaming and 5 MP3s for £5pm/$5pm. Or unlimited streaming plus 12 MP3s for £10pm, 15 MP3s for ?15. It’s Napster – ’nuff said. Despite losing its rebellious edge, the brand name is enough to keep Napster a big contender.
23 countries ? None yet. Sold 10bn+ individual songs to date. 12m for download Rumor stage: Apple will create a streaming or locker service out of Lala, which it bought and shut. Apple is more likely to launch a service strongly tied to users’ offline iTunes libraries than one which streams unlimited from the cloud. May not go as far as it could.
Europe 450,000+ 6m £5pm for 10 MP3s. ?£1.99pw for unlimited DRM’ed in-app downloads. By the numbers, one of the most popular unlimited music services. In a strong position re: mobile music, but too frequently chops and changes its proposition.
Various Unclear how many handset owners take the offer. “Millions” All costs absorbed in handset price (itself subsidised in many markets). Unlimited “free” music downloads – the ultimate proposition. Nokia has squandered the offer with poor software and sync experience, availability on few handsets and spartan carrier distribution. May not be rescuable without big change.
UK 3m UUs/pm (1.5m website, rest via off-site widgets) Thousands 5m Free: Ads.

£4.99pm: Web streaming, no ads.

£9.99pm: Web streaming with no ads plus mobile Funded by Peter Gabriel, Spark, Eden. Lower profile than competitors but settled on a model after early tinkering. Now at a make-or-break point, convinced ad-funded music economics stack up.
US, UK, Ger 40m UUs/pm “Millions” of full tracks from four majors and indies. Free web playback with on-page banner advertising. Officially, no plans for subscription. MySpace = music, tracks are there but this still feels more a social net than a music service per se. Like MySpace itself, would benefit from less clutter. Doesn’t hang together as a music service first and foremost. But MySpace’s music associations are strong.
US, global soon Not disclosed. Not disclosed. “Millions” $14.99 per month for Zune Pass. Unlimited web streaming. Unlimited downloads for the life of a Zune Pass. Plus 10 downloads per Has undergone tweaked ever since launch in 2006, eg. adding option to keep 10 songs a month in fall 2008. A Microsoft executive recently told Bloomberg Business Week a price cut was under consideration.
UK Won’t disclose. Won’t disclose. 5m £4.99pm: Unlimited web streaming + 5 MP3s No mobile Powered by Omnifone Unusually, available to all, not just Sky TV/broadband customers – so no cross-selling leverage.
UK None None Only UMG Bundle of MP3s for unknown price. Unlimited MP3s for monthly price less than cost of two albums. Vapourware: announced in ’09 to show UK govt. legal services can be alternative to piracy. Orginal idea to licence P2P was aborted. ISP bundling could work, but lack of progress inspires little confidence, while other services steal march.
US Won’t disclose. Won’t disclose. Uploaded from user’s machine. Free with 2Gb upload space. Between $2.99pm for 10Gb and $13.99pm for 100Gb. This locker model is more old-fashioned than unlimited access, depends on legal file ownership and susceptible to illegal uploads. Cloud-centric but wedded to local file ownership, it’s likely to be overtaken by unlimited access.
Christmas launch along with Android 3.0, says Android engineer. Google’s better as a search index than a service provider, and global music licensing is complex. Maybe it should just play with third parties.
US Won’t disclose. Won’t disclose. 9m Free three-day trial. Price not clear from site. Like Spotify, it plays in a PC/Mac app plus on iOS, Android, BlackBerry, including offline mobile play. The features are just like Spotify’s, but already work in the U.S. When tested, some key website pages were broken.
US 15m UUS/pm, 5m registered users Won’t disclose 10m (indies but only EMI amongst majors) Free web-based streaming with ads. $3pm for no-ads and mobile access. Unusually, users populate the service by uploading songs. Grooveshark says this is legal “in the exact same way that YouTube is legal”, DMCA compliance. Dependence on user upload means catalog gaps. A history of legal attention plus absence of three majors leaves a hint of suspicion.
Swe, Swi, Hun, Sing, Cro, Bra, Mex, Hol, Austria Won’t disclose. Won’t disclose. Unclear – varies from country to country. Unlimited downloads to mobile/PC, price bundled in to handset cost on 6-24mth subs. Plus 10 DRM-free tracks per month to keep forever. SonyEricsson’s version of Nokia Comes With Music, the unlimited offer is appealing but locks users to the device or sub. Built on Omnifone. Unclear how well it’s doing and, so, stands to do.
UK, Ger, Fra, Ita, Spa, Hol, Bel, Austria, Swe, Swi Won’t disclose. Won’t disclose. Unclear – varies from country to country. £8.99/€9.99pm: Unlimited DRM’ed downloads to PC. Plus 10 DRM-free tracks per month. It’s Omnifone’s MusicStation service (also on Vodafone), but bundled on the desktop of new HP/Compaq machines, and minus mobile access. Bundling on HP PCs should mean a big opportunity. But locks consumers to playing on HP machine.

Posted by Ted • Monday, August 16, 2010 .