Sources are reporting today that Google is deep in talks to get music labels on board for a Google competitor to iTunes. The service would offer digital downloads, as well as a digital locker that users could stream music from. This is a feature Apple has yet to implement despite buying music streaming startup Lala several months ago.
The man behind Google's Android operating system, Andy Rubin, is supposedly leading the talks with music labels. Rubin is the driving force for getting the service up and running this year, say sources. The labels meanwhile, see this an opportunity to take some of the wind out of iTunes' sails.
Google will have a steep hill to climb if they can get Google Music off the ground. Amazon has thus far been able to capture only 12% of the US digital music market. Google's ace in the hole will be Android. If this streaming is integrated with Android handsets via a downloadable app, it could make the service very desirable.
Google is said to be prepping its own music store for a fall 2010 launch. The internet giant had announced a web-based iTunes rival during its I/O developer’s conference last month. The music store was revealed as a new section of the Android marketplace, but knowing Google, its music plans could be far too ambitious for the service to remain confined to Android. According to a Cnet report, quoting music industry sources, Google is indeed looking beyond Android. It is likely to link digital downloads and streaming music to its search results.
In a recent presentation to music and tech industry executives, NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick had some interesting things to say about music streaming. According to Crupnick, on-demand streaming services like Spotify result in a 13 percent decrease in paid downloads. He went on point out that services that follow the “radio” model, like Pandora, increase sales 41%.
Pandora doesn’t allow users to select specific songs like Spotify, but instead plays music in a chosen genre more or less randomly. The unsurprising conclusion is that people are less likely to buy a song if they can stream it at any time. Perhaps it isn’t that simple; is it possible to draw enough new users to increase overall sales? The key for Spotify may be the effort to convert free users to paid premium users.
This report is just the sort of thing music labels could use to justify keeping Spotify from launching in the US. Warner Music Group Chairman Edgar Bronfman said earlier this month, “Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry.” If Spotify launched stateside, would you ante up for extra features like mobile streaming?
Sonos has expanded the breadth of its multi-room music system offerings with the introduction of the ZonePlayer S5. The S5 works in combination with the Sonos ZoneBridge or ZonePlayer to provide streaming music through your house. New to the Sonos system is an iPhone/iPod Touch app that allows control of each S5, individually or in unison.
The Sonos system is based on a SonosNet wireless system, which uses mesh network technology, where each device or player serves as a repeater. Because the system is standalone initial set-up and expansion is relatively effortless. Set-up and control of the system is through a free iPhone/iPod touch app or with the Sonos Controller application (for Mac or PC), included with the S5.
The $399 S5 contains 5 speakers: two tweeters, two 3-inch mid-ranges, and one 3.5-inch woofer. Each speaker is driven by its own Class D digital amplifier.
The Sonos system allows access to your personal music collection, through your home network; more than 25,000 internet radio stations, and online music services; such as Napster, Pandora, Rhapsody and SIRIUS.
Following HP's lead, who announced last week it was offering buyers of new laptops across Asia the opportunity to get 1,000 free music tracks, Dell has partnered with Napster with a deal it believes is even better. Selected laptop and desktop customers will be given a year of free Napster service.
By going the subscription route, customers who purchase a qualified PC will have access to 8 million music tracks, 60 DRM-free tracks to download and keep, the ability to stream online from any PC, and unlimited downloads on up to 3 PCs.
Systems eligible for the free 12-month subscription will come from Dell's Studio and Inspiron lines, including some systems sold through Best Buy in the U.S.
Advertising and availability for the new promotion is expected to take place sometime by the end of October.
Dell's hookup with Napster appears to be even sweeter than originally reported. After catching wind of our post, Jennifer Wilbur, a rep for Napster, told us the following:
In the report, you say "and unlimited downloads on up to 3 PCs." This is inaccurate. The MP3s are completely unrestricted, so not restricted to 3 PCs. Also, the streaming service can be accessed from any machine using the subscribers username and password.
Jennifer Wilbur Principal Rockstar Communications [for Napster]