The music streaming market has had a booming twelve months, with 2012 seeing many established digital music services establishing a foothold in the Australian market. Including the Swedish-based market leader Spotify, the launch of internet radio service Pandora, Australia’s first Rara, JB Hi-Fi Now, Rdio, and Mog, all looking to get a slice of what is now a booming $1 billion industry.
One of Spotify’s bigger competitors, Deezer, is now following on its official Australian championed launch and plans to track festival-goers to provide a ‘post-concert experience’ with an expansion into the Middle East, Africa, Brazil, and Asia while its year-end figure show stronger growth than Spotify for 2012.
As Tech Crunch reports, the music streaming service is launching across 22 new regions, including the aforementioned countries, as well Algeria, Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Hong Kong, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Taiwan, Tunisia, UAE, Venezuela, and Yemen; claiming itself as the first legal streaming service to be set up in the Maghreb region of Africa.
With its 20 million strong music library, accessible through smartphones, computers, tablets, and wireless speaker devices, Deezer has become a serious contender to the digital music service throne, recently upgrading its app and services following a year that NextWeb reports saw their paid subscriber rate growing faster than that of Spotify.
Seeing a growth of 114% from December 200 to December 2012, it has outranked Spotify’s 86% growth in subscribers, with Deezer now reporting it has 26 million users worldwide, with 3 million of that figure – across 182 countries – now fully paid subscribers.
The company’s growth into new territories and successful figures also follows some serious financial backing. As Tech Crunch points out, Warner Music Group’s owner Access Industries, and investor Idinvest have pumped a cool €100 million (approx. $130 million) into the music startup.
Again, its a figure that has outdone Spotify’s efforts, who raised $100 million of their own backing – including $10 million from the Coca Cola company – at the tail-end of November.
Meanwhile, Rdio announces that it’s introducing free streaming in Australia, as well as in 14 other countries, following similar moves by Deezer and Spotify, which will allow users to sign up without a credit card and enjoy a limited number of free streams before they’re asked to upgrade.
The new initiative offers ad-free streaming on a limited run for up to six months, with the aim of going gratis being to lure new users to the service, then slowly ramping them up to its unique premium tiers, which charges users based on their activity, and how many songs and bands they stream in a month, rather than a flat subscription fee model that other services use.
Its just one of many major shifts that streaming services are making in a market that’s very quickly becoming over-saturated, with many users simply going straight for the larger names rather than investigate the overwhelming number of options available, with even more streaming services on the way.
One such service on the horizon is coming from mobile phone and communications giant Nokia. Mashable reports that the Finnish born corporation is looking to get in on the streaming service boom with an expansion to its existing Nokia Music platform.
The ad-free version of the model launched in September as an exclusive feature to the Lumia smartphone range, but Nokia is now offering a monthly subscription based option called, simply Nokia Music+ for the budget price of $US 3.99 a month, with prices varying depending on territory.
The low price establishes it as one of the cheaper options on the spectrum, and will allow users unlimited download of mixes and music for use offline, with all the usual connectivity features to a web app, computer, smart TV, and even on the competing Windows Phone’s Marketplace app store.
Speaking of Microsoft, the IT giant’s new Xbox Music platform has been kicking along steadily since its launch late last year, while the company’s main rival Apple, is still struggling to get its own Pandora-like music model off the ground, having tripped on nearly every possible hurdle in developing its own music service.
Its bumpy ride staring with its iPhone 5 music streaming deal being quashed by a dispute with Sony ATV over their music publishing rights, before delaying the release of the latest update to iTunes in attempt to include the music service, only for the revamp to never materialise; that or Apple are continuing to work on its service behind the scenes.
An unlikely contender also emerged in a secret project called Daisy, a new streaming service that is the brainchild of Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor and Dr. Dre’s headphone makers, Beats By Dre, that the music masters claim will revolutionise the industry.
Meanwhile, the recently relaunched and revamped MySpace which was boasting its proprietary 27 million song strong library as a ‘Spotify’ killer, but the Justin Timberlake-owned social media site has already stirred serious controversy, with accusations that it is hosting unlicensed music on the website.
Independent groups AIM, A2IM, WIN and AIR issued a joint statement slamming MySpace for their “regressive and outdated approach“ for their refusal to acknowledge their illegitimate use of licensed music and independent artists on the site; saying that they’ll only respond to take-down notices for individual cases rather than clean up shop.
The equally controversial Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has also made noises that his new digital music service, MegaBox, will do away with licensing and complex contracts, cutting out labels entirely and dealing direct with musicians, offering them the chance to upload their music and get the “lion’s share” – 90% of the revenue from their music played on the forthcoming service.
It could be an offer difficult to refuse for many independent artists and bands baffled at the lack of correlation between the music streaming boom, now accounting for a $1 billion industry, and the lack of funds lining their pockets. With indie darlings Grizzly Bear making a fine case study, including their complaints levelled at Spotify’s poor royalty schemes.
As the digital music revolution grows, its ease of convenience does take a a bite out of music piracy by providing convenient, legal alternatives and recent figures show that its contributing to increasing revenue, but licensing and copyright scuffles continue to create fiction between artists and the streaming services reaching bloody new heights when musicians rallied against internet radio streaming service Pandora for their war on songwriters in their lawsuit against US royalties body ASCAP.
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