The writing’s been on the wall for some time now, with this having been considered a done-deal back in March, but now the two parties involved are going public. Beats Electronics, the house that Dre built, is acquiring the MOG music streaming service, adding a little content to its brightly-colored can offerings. No word on cost, but MOG is said to have raised $33 million in funding to date, so that might give you a ballpark figure. It’s also unclear how or whether Beats-investor HTC might be involved in this new relationship, but if recent happenings are any indication, don’t go expecting too much on that front.
Android and PlayStation Vita owners have felt the Music Unlimited love on their respective devices for quite some time now, but the Spotify / MOG / Rdio competitor has finally made its way to the App Store, bringing with it yet another option for streaming music on iOS. The free app appears to be optimized for iPhone and iPod touch (though it’s also compatible with iPad), and will enable on-the-go jammin’ with a $4-per-month Basic subscription over 3G, 4G or WiFi connections. You can pull in tunes from the millions of tracks in Sony’s collection, or access songs on your PC using the Music Sync service. The app is currently only available in the New Zealand App Store, but it’s expected to hit other Music Unlimited countries soon. For now, you can hit up the source link for the Kiwi App Store preview, or head over to the Music Unlimited site to sign up.
For an upgrade with a fairly underwhelming number like 0.8.3 attached, the latest version of the Spotify desktop client brings the goods. First up is much requested the ability to create radio stations based on playlists or albums, with the click of a button (that would be the Start Playlist Radio or Start Album Radio button, for the record), generating a queue of similar music. A new boost to search brings up music in the main view when you hover over it in search results, while embeddable HTML codes have been added to right click functionality. The service has also added Tumblr posting to the game. The update is rolling out today for Windows and Mac users. More info in the source link below.
Rdio already has a number of stamps in its passport, Canada, Australia, Brazil and New Zealand amongst them. But, the current focus for the streaming music service is Europe, where it’s already launched in Germany, Denmark, Portugal and Spain. While we still don’t have any solid dates, Scott Bagby, the company’s VP of partnerships and internationalization, told paidContent:UK that a pile of new nations are on deck for the coming months, with hopes of covering the entire continent. With licensing deals already struck in the UK, we’re pretty confident England will be part of this next batch of rollouts, but Rdio has no intentions of confining itself to the western world. Bagby said in the interview, “we already have a guy on the ground in Asia,” so look for the service to go live in a few more locales across the pacific. No time frame was given for the Asian launches but, if the company is serious about establishing a foothold there, it should do so sooner rather than later. As Bagby points out, Rdio is “a couple of years behind others in terms of expansion.”
Kazaa may not have exactly caught fire since it ditched its shady past and went the legit route back in 2009, but the company is still around, and it’s now finally released its first mobile app. That comes on the form of an iOS app initially (compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch), which itself is completely free and includes a seven-day trial of the Kazaa music service (including unlimited streaming and downloads of “millions and millions of songs”). Once that’s up, however, you’ll have to fork over $9.99 a month to keep the service (US-only, for now), which places it in direction competition with the likes of Spotify and Rdio. Hit the link below to try it out for yourself.
Free? Yeah, we all like free, but when it comes to streaming music, there’s always a catch. This time it’s a FreePlay “tank,” which lets you stream any of MOG’s 11 million songs from the web without subscription fees — well, at least until that looming gauge hits empty. The system adds a rather unique social media twist, filling tanks to different levels based on virtual interactions. And MOG’s CEO says many users should never hit empty — there are a variety of ways to earn free music, such as “interacting with advertisers in meaningful ways.” Like Spotify, MOG’s ultimate goal is to convert freeloaders to paid subscribers, and forking over $5 (Basic) or $10 (Primo) per month does have its benefits, including hardware integration and mobile access — both of which won’t work with the free version. Now that we have several free streaming options, it ultimately comes down to availability — having access to 11 million tracks could be great, but only if you can play the songs you want to listen to. So, do you MOG? And no, we also have no idea what that means, but you can check it out when the site goes live tomorrow morning at 9AM ET.
Were you excited to try Spotify, only to be dismayed by the lack of native iPad support? Enter Rdio’s latest update to its iOS app, now with gratuitous support for Cupertino’s sweetheart. Just like its iPhone and iPod touch forebearer, slate fans can now stream music, cache songs, futz with playlists, all while being “social” with friends on the service. Like the company’s other mobile apps (on iOS, Android or Blackberry) — and its cross-Atlantic Swedish rival — one has to spring for the pricier $9 monthly sub to unshackle from web-only streaming and enjoy portable bliss. In our quick run-through, we found the app to be slick and fast, and searching for obscure music was painless. With most of our friends strewn across other streaming platforms, the community features fell on deaf ears — so clearly your mileage will vary. Rdio’s offering a week-long trial gratis, so go-on and give it a whirl yourself.
The portable cassette players once nearly universally identified as the Walkman may have seen better days, but their spirit is still alive, so far as Sony is concerned. The company is apparently set to release the latest entry in the line, the slick-looking NWZA865B, a 16GB portable media player with wireless file sharing and music streaming capabilities. CNET points out that the device likely won’t have built-in WiFi, due to evidence from the FCC, which does seem to limit the aforementioned streaming options. The 16GB model is also likely one of a number of capacities to be offered, ranging from 8GB to 64GB. The device is available for viewing on UK retailer Buy.com with a £130 ($213) price tag and a July 31st release date.
Hey, wouldn’t it be great if you could sync your music collection across your HDD and all your mobile devices? Ahem, we know what you’re thinking. Nevertheless, HP clearly feels the need to play a little catch-up. It’s starting yet another connected music service, called HP Play, to cater specifically for owners of the TouchPad, Veer, and potentially other webOS devices like the Pre 3. The beta has just launched and by all measures it’s an extremely basic affair — like, iTunes 2001 basic: no OTA syncing, no cloud storage and no store. But this is just a beta, and if it ties into the HP music service that was rumored a few weeks agothen it could be the start of something more in keeping with air conditioning, clean drinking water and other modern expectations.
Spotify, the Rhapsody of Europe, may still be an unfamiliar brand stateside, but the service just inked a deal with Virgin Media to bring streaming music to Virgin’s broadband customers, set-top boxes, and mobile phones in the UK. The deal will bundle Unlimited (£4.99) or Premium (£9.99) monthly Spotify tiers, at to-be-determined discounted rates, allowing new and existing subscribers to access millions of tracks from any of their compatible home and mobile devices. Open(free) Spotify customers will reportedly need to upgrade to a paid version, but only to access the service on Virgin’s set-top boxes, we presume — don’t expect to see a blanket ban on all devices. Until pricing is announced, the partnership appears to be more of a win for Spotify than for customers, who will still need to pay up before rockin’ out, but set-top integration is likely to be a boon with digital TV subscribers, letting them bring those infamous Euro house music raves to an actual house.
Sony didn’t make a big to do about the arrival of its Music Unlimited service on Android — perhaps it’s the fact that the market for streaming music on mobile devices is getting a bit crowded these days, with recent arrivals from Apple, Google, and Amazon. Or maybe it’s that the mention of Qriocity, the service that powers the offering, is still likely to leave a bad taste in the mouths of lots of folks, after the whole, well, you know. Whatever the case may be, the app is now available as a free download for those with Google’s dessert-based operating system on their handsets, plus either the $4 a month basic or $10 a month premium plan.
Six months ago, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek couldn’t tell us when his subscription streaming music service might launch in the United States, and that won’t change today, but apparently there’s not much left keeping $10 unlimited monthly music away. All Things D reports that Spotify has signed Universal Music Group to a US distribution deal, the third of the four largest labels to agree, and anonymous sources say the last remaining holdout, Warner Music, may also soon cave. Mind you, one of Spotify’s most intriguing new features just got shown up by iTunes in the Cloud, but when it comes to extra competition and consumer choice, we won’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Ah, so it’s all coming together now. Following a report on Warner Music inking a cloud streaming deal with Apple, CNET is back with fresh information that sees three more major record companies jumping on board. Citing “multiple music industry sources,” we’re told that EMI is the latest addition to Apple’s cloud music portfolio, while Universal and Sony are close to sealing the deal to permit this rumored iCloud service. If true, such endorsement will no doubt add pressure on Google and Amazon over their cheeky, license-free cloud streaming offerings — not a bad way to fend off competition, though it’s not clear how much money’s involved. Guess we’ll know more at WWDC next month.
Internet radio provider Slacker is bulldozing the thin line dividing itself from subscription-based music services today, with the launch of Premium Radio. The new pricing tier joins the existing gratis Basic Radio and ad-free Radio Plus plans, adding an all-you-can-eat music model akin to services like Rhapsody and Rdio. Subscribers who shell out $9.99 a month receive all of the features of the $3.99 Radio Plus users, plus unlimited access to eight million songs, letting them listen to what they want, when the want, and generally play god with the site’s existing radio services. Premium Radio also gives you on- and offline access to music on a number of mobile devices, including the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android, and BlackBerry handsets — not to mention unlimited bragging rights to all of your broke friends who are still rocking the Basic Radio plan. Don’t feel too bad for ‘em, though — at least they didn’t get suckered into slotRadio.
No, it’s still not saying anything about the eventual US launch, but Spotify is now causing a minor ruckus across the pond, where it’s just announced some changes to the free version of the music streaming service. The timeline for the changes varies depending on when you signed up, but the short of it is that users will have six months of access to the free service as it is now, after which they’ll face some stricter limits on how much they can listen to. That includes a total of just ten hours of listening time each month, and the ability to listen to individual songs no more than five times. Of course, the obvious goal there is to get more folks to sign up for its Premium or Unlimited services, which the company notes remain unchanged.
What started as loose-lipped tattle is now official: the PSP will get a taste of Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming music service starting on April 14th. The service, tortuously entitled “Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity” by Sony, requires a PlayStation Network ID to access all that digital audio. Once setup, Sony promises a “synchronized music experience” across your PSP, PS3, PC, and other network-enabled Sony devices like Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players — a claim backed by a cloud-based catalog of some seven million tracks supported by a “music sync” functionality that will automatically organize your Music Unlimited library after perusing the local files and playlists found in your existing media player (yes, iTunes is supported). Click through the break for the full press release and a good video overview of the service while you ponder the $3.99 basic and $9.99 premium monthly service fees.
In case you missed the news, last night Amazon gave us a little surprise by launching its free Cloud Player service, which lets you stream your music collection from the cloud to your computer or Android device. While this has no doubt put a smile on many faces (American ones only, for now), Sony Music isn’t too happy about Amazon jumping the gun over licensing for streaming rights. The record label told Reuters that it’s hoping Amazon “will reach a new license deal, but we’re keeping all of our legal options open.” Yikes. In retaliation, Amazon responded with the following statement to Ars Tehcnica:
“Cloud Player is an application that lets customers manage and play their own music. It’s like any number of existing media management applications. We do not need a license to make Cloud Player available. The functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes.”
Of course, the bigger story here is that Amazon’s free Cloud Player is going head-to-head with Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming subscription service, which was pushed out last month after plenty of money talk with various record labels. Understandably, Sony isn’t willing to let Amazon cut through the red tape here without a fight, and this may also affect similar music locker services like mSpot and MP3Tunes, albeit at a much smaller scale. In fact, Sony’s already expressed its discomfort with those particular companies’ mode of operation, so you can probably expect to see this tension boiling over to some form of legal action before long. Now that a big shot like Amazon’s involved, it’s almost inevitable.
Oh snap! Look who just ate Apple and Google’s lunch here? Minutes ago, Amazon rolled out its very own music streaming service which is conveniently dubbed the Amazon Cloud Player. Existing Amazon customers in the US can now upload their MP3 purchases to their 5GB cloud space — upgradable to a one-year 20GB plan for free upon purchasing an MP3 album, with additional plans starting at $20 a year — and then start streaming on their computers or Android devices. Oh, and did we mention that this service is free of charge as well? Meanwhile, someone will have some catching up to do, but we have a feeling it won’t take them too long.