Web-based streaming music provider Spotify is reportedly preparing to launch a new service that will add new radio and content discovery elements to its portfolio. Citing multiple unnamed sources, Bloomberg on Thursday reported that Spotify is developing a new online radio service that will compete directly with Pandora. Due to launch by the end of this year, the ad-supported service will allow users to stream unlimited music through Spotify’s software, and the service may launch with new music content that is not currently available to Spotify customers. It is unclear exactly how the new offering will differ from Spotify Radio, which was unveiled late last year as an artist-based streaming radio service available for free to all Spotify users. The company’s current core product allows Spotify’s 10 million users to stream music from its online catalog in an iTunes-like player that also allows subscribers to search for content, create playlists and share content with friends. More →
The past year was a good year for the music industry as sales rose to their best highest point in eight years. According to the IFPI’s annual Recording Industry In Numbers report, revenue from physical media fell by 8.7%, compared with 13.8% in 2010, but were vinyl sales up nearly 29%. Digital revenue continued to grow, increasing 8%, compared to 5.6% in 2010, with digital track sales growing 19% to 3.7 billion songs. Australia leads the way in the digital space with 60% growth, compared with 8% growth in the U.S. and 10% in the U.K. $1.27 billion in digital singles were sold in the U.S., while the U.K. accounted for $176.2 million. Digital sales made up 31% of the total revenue of the music market and reached $5.3 billion in sales. Overall global music revenue fell by just 3% in the last year, however. “2011 marked the least negative result in global recorded music sales since 2004, when revenues were flat,” the report read. The IFPI credits services like Spotify, iTunes, and unlimited-access operators like Rdio, MOG and Rhapsody for bringing new revenue models to customers that have helped the U.S. music market. More →
Rhapsody announced on Thursday that it now has more than 1 million paying subscribers in the United States. The company claims it is now the top pay-for music streaming company in the country, although we imagine Spotify is nipping at its heals now that it has more than 2.5 million subscribers globally. In celebration of the milestone, Rhapsody president Jon Irwin shaved his head, a promise he made to the company if it ever reached million subscribers. “We’ve accomplished quite a bit over the past decade, so it’s no small statement to say that 2011 was probably our biggest year yet,” Irwin said. It is quite a big achievement; one might have assumed Rhapsody’s user base would have declined with the influx of other pay-for music services such as Spotify, Slacker, Pandora, Rdio and others. “The next frontiers for subscription music are the living room and the car,” Irwin said. “Consumers will be able to enjoy Rhapsody from even more connected audio and video systems, as well as other platforms and distribution channels—at home, in the car and everywhere in-between, domestically and abroad.” Rhapsody’s full press release follows after the break.
Popular European streaming music service Spotify could launch in the U.S. as soon as next week, AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka speculates. Spotify announced earlier this week that it would be taking its talents to the U.S., but it gave no indication as to how soon the launch might occur. AllThingsD says the smart money is on a launch next week, and the blog has historically been accurate with its coverage of the Stockholm-based music start-up. Kafka reaffirms that Spotify only has deals inked with three of the four major U.S. record labels, but he says a deal with Warner Music Group is close enough to being signed that it should be completed ahead of a launch next week. Like Microsoft’s Zune service or Rhapsody, Spotify allows users to stream music on demand, create playlists and more. The service uses a freemium model that permits ad-supported content to be streamed to desktop computers for free, and then offers mobile streaming, playlist sharing and sheds the ads for paid subscribers. Spotify has not yet revealed pricing for the U.S. market. More →
On Tuesday Slacker introduced a new subscription service called “Slacker Premium Radio.” Slacker Premium allows you to search for artists and play songs, or even full albums, on demand. Similar to Rhapsody, you can also cache songs for offline playback on your phone where a 3G or Wi-Fi signal isn’t available. The streaming radio service said that it offers 6 times the amount of music that Pandora offers, although it remains unclear how its library stacks up against Rhapsody or Microsoft’s Zune service. Slacker Premium Radio is available for the web, Android, iOS, and BlackBerry now for $10 per month. More →
Got an iPhone or an iPod touch? Got a Rhapsody ToGo subscription? Life is about to get a whole lot better for you… If Apple decides to approve Real’s new iPhone app, that is. That’s right folks, RealNetworks has submitted an app to the App Store that will allow ToGo subscribers to stream any and all music from Rhapsody’s enormous library via Wi-Fi, 3G or even EDGE. Considering the Rhapsody service is in direct competition with iTunes, logic might dictate that Apple will, umm, “pull an Apple” and find a way to reject the app. Rhapsody is doing its best to avoid rejection however, by limiting its iPhone offering to streaming only (no downloads/local storage). With about a million other music steaming apps in the App Store right now, it would be tough for Apple to warrant a rejection — especially with the FCC currently breathing down the company’s back. Hit the jump for a few more screenshots and a video of the Rhapsody app in action, and keep those fingers crossed.
Hello, Rhapsody. Real Networks’ online music store has finally launched a DRM-free download option on an apathetic unsuspecting public. Boasting a catalog of over 5 million songs, the new service allows customers to access their library for a mere $.99/song or $9.99/album. The pricing is relatively competitive, but considering how late they are to to DRM-free party, they might want to consider a fee-structure that is a bit more in line with Amazon/com’s $.89/song, $8.99 bargain basement average. Nevertheless, in an attempt to drum up excitement, Rhapsody is currently offering an entire album free of charge to the first 100,000 customers that sign up for the service. We wouldn’t recommend sticking around much after the free download hits your hard drive, but free music ain’t so bad, right? As an added incentive, the company is also making their online store available to Verizon subscribers by way of a special portal. It’s a decent solution, but we’d still wager that there are better and cheaper ways of getting music onto your handset.