January 16, 2014
A new streaming service, Beats Music, is hitting the market in a new AT&T subscription model that will bundle it with smartphone data service, and offer it to as many as five users on the same plan. It will also stand alone as an app for smartphones with free and paid versions, available next week. Beats comes at a time when music lovers have the option to stream, download or listen to the radio, and the streaming market in particular is saturated with endless options of services.
“The digital music world is in the midst of a confusing convergence of formats, with downloads, radio and streaming being juggled and combined into whatever hybrid will stick,” says The New York Times. “Beats is joining a market already crowded with competitors, including Google, Sony and Microsoft, with more to come.”
What Beats brings to the table are its own algorithms, like “Right Now,” which allows users to input their mood, their location, who they’re with and how they’re feeling, and delivers a playlist catered to that specific combination.
Other services offer similar algorithm and playlist options, but Beats insists it only recommends “the good stuff,” as NYT says, by taking advantage of guest programmers, like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork, which make song selections.
“The playlists seemed no better or worse than the well-chosen and witty playlists on the free site Songza, a Pandora competitor that has thousands of playlists,” the article notes. “Still, the quality or originality of the service may matter less than its promotion, and in that Beats Music has a clear advantage,” specifically the AT&T partnership.
Paid streaming services have been slow to catch on due to the countless free options like YouTube and Pandora. The article also notes the “resentment” among many musicians toward paid services with low royalty rates — one of which, no doubt, is Beats.
“Winning this battle won’t be easy,” says NYT.