A few months after introducing its product of choice, Sony officially has entered the digital music market -- an industry long dominated by Apple's iTunes.
The Japanese based company announced Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity has made its official debut in the United Kingdom. The company said the cloud-based digital streaming music service will be available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, New Zealand and the U.S. at some point in the coming year.
The music service will include songs from Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Music as well as independents. The initial catalogue will have six million songs. The streaming service will allow users to play music anytime for a monthly fee. In the U.K., it will be £3.99 ($6.15) for basic and £9.99 ($15.39) for premium.
Sony describes the service as an infinite ad-free radio station where subscribers can listen to personalized channels. It also has a tone analysis technology called SensMe, which allows the program to choose songs automatically based on the listener's habits.
As we continue to expand Qriocity globally, these services 'powered by Qriocity' offer a single ID log-in and wallet solution, and empower users to easily consume content including music and video across a growing number of integrated devices, Kazuo Hirai, President of Networked Products & Services Group, Sony Corporation, said in a statement.
The Music Unlimited service will be available on Sony's Bravia TV, Blu-Ray disc players, Playstation 3, the VAIO and other personal computers. It will also be available on Android mobile devices. While Sony is confident its Qriocity powered video streaming service will successfully spill over into music, analysts are not as certain. Financially a streaming service could pose a problem if they don't enough generate revenue for publishers to continually back.
The early licensing agreements with the labels and music providers were expensive and made it hard to generate revenue in non ala carte models. While the labels have relaxed their licensing, they will quickly be saying to providers like Sony, we want to see bigger checks more frequently, Mike McGuire, digital music and entertainment analyst at Gartner, said.
Other analysts like Ezra Gottheil, senior analyst at Tech Business Research, say the format just doesn't lend itself well to music listening habits. Good music needs to be listened to several times. That's why people like to own it forever. Getting people to hear it only once or on a subscription basis for a month is tough, Gottheil said.
For those reluctant to switch from iTunes to Music Unlimited, Sony says users can synchronize their iTunes library to Music Unlimited.