The music industry is a quickly changing one with smartphone applications allowing users to turn their phones into streaming radios. Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, and now Music Unlimited by Sony are revolutionizing the way that users enjoy music. Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming has now been released as an app for the iPhone, increasing the availability of the app to users who do not have Sony devices. Available initially in New Zealand, the service is expected to roll out worldwide in the coming days.
Music Unlimited is similar to Spotify and Rdio which allows users to create playlists, stream songs and albums, and customize channels to the taste of the user, personalizing the listening experience. Music Unlimited previously was only available through Android, Walkman PMP, Sony Blue-ray players, Sony branded TVs and the PS Vita. By entering the iPhone market the experience is now open to millions more, and with two plans to choose from, a $3.99 basic plan or a $9.99 premium plan, users have greater control over their devices.
There are some drawbacks to the cheaper, basic plan, but there are no limits to the number of times a user can skip a track and the app is ad free, in stark contrast to the free version of Pandora. The premium plan offers music on demand, which also allows users to save tracks for listening when not connected to the internet.
Music Unlimited is not the only music cloud service in operation; Samsung recently acquired mSpot which has similarities to Google Music and the Amazon Cloud Player, as well as Pandora which offers smart radio streaming. Samsung phones currently employ the Google Play Store, so it has yet to be seen how mSpot would compete with that, except that the 5GB of free cloud space seamlessly intertwines access from device to tablet, to the internet and Google TV.
Spotify is also available on a wide range of products: PC, Mac, cell phones and home audio systems bringing the music to wherever you may be. Then there’s Kazaa, created by the founders of Skype, which began as a peer-to-peer file sharing application and has now evolved into Rdio, which is an ad-free, on-demand music program that offers three different pricing schemes starting as low as $4.99 a month. Rdio is different than other music cloud services because it is based upon a subscription service, as Drew Larner, Rdio’s CEO says in regards to ads, “It’s a very disruptive [music] experience to have to listen to an ad all of a sudden. We wanted to keep the experience clean,” and the company feels that they are offering something enticing enough that people would subscribe to it.
The music cloud is quickly changing the way that listeners enjoy their radio experience. Music Unlimited is hoping that by entering the iPhone app store they are able to increase their number of listeners, while players such as Rdio are relying on a subscription based model to entice listeners to their service. Google Music, mSpot, and the Amazon Cloud are betting on gaining customers through their individual models of cloud players which range from limited free streaming to pay for content. The unprecedented multitude of choices available allows the music market to evolve and develop to the desires of the listener instead of at the whims of the music industry while has evolved from records to cassette tapes to compact disks and now is travelling into the digital age of an on-demand musical experience.