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Amazon Might Be Starting a Subscription Streaming Music Service

Amazon Might Be Starting a Subscription Streaming Music Service


By: Corey Tate
Follow me: Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn
March 21, 2013


Place this in the believe it when you see it category: Amazon is supposedly looking into starting a streaming music service with a subscription, akin to the same rumors we've heard about Apple and Google or YouTube. On one hand this makes sense: the competitive trifecta that is Amazon-Google-Apple is locked into strategies so competitive that any service offered by one might have to be offered by the other two, just to stay in the race. On the other hand, this makes the opposite just as true: if there's a rumor for one (see Apple, or Google and YouTube), the odds of a rumor for the third go way up.

This also could mean trouble for Spotify, Pandora, the forthcoming Beats / Daisy, Rdio and all the others that have staked out their future on exactly this kind of streaming music service subscription model. The Google-Amazon-Apple tidal wave is enough in current users that only a few would have to to pick up the subscription (comparatively) to deal a big blow to the current players.

This also means that an Amazon streaming music service would have to go through the same crazy dance of getting licensing from the music labels, and after getting their butt kicked up and down the court by Apple and iTunes for so many years, the major recording labels are wary of selling the farm so easily.

The source of the Amazon streaming music idea seems to be coming from Greg Sandoval of The Verge, who said "Details are few and the talks have been described as very informal, the sources said. But so far, what Amazon has shown an interest in is an on-demand service that sounds pretty similar to Spotify, generally considered the sector leader. Others in the field include Rdio and Rhapsody, but Google and Apple are also working on their own projects. Google is reportedly in talks with record companies and music publishers about starting subscription music services for both YouTube and Google Play."

First off, Greg has a good track record and knows enough to publish something only if there's a good likelihood that it will happen. Second: the fate of this isn't in Amazon's hands, just like it's not in Apple's or Google's for their streaming music offerings. The power belongs to the copyright holders, meaning the major recording labels. And they're probably still burning from giving control of their whole business to Steve Jobs and Apple, since the music industry itself couldn't come up with a viable option.

Then again, the tide may be turning. Take this recent quote from Francis Keeling of UMG's digital business group at an IFPI conference recently:

"We talk about for subscription services, the need to have a funnel. Google, with its hundreds of millions of users through search, YouTube with its more than 800 million users, arguably is the biggest funnel we could have. Clearly if we could get consumers into a legal funnel through that route and encourage them to subscription, that would have a very positive impact on the business."

Tags: Music News, Digital Music News
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