Streaming Music, Where Are We At? (1/2)

08.24.10 Posted in Blog by

This summer I gave a presentation at the Dutch Ministry of Justice where I was invited to inform them about the latest developments in online (streaming) music. In this presentation I spoke about various subjects, ranging from new online music business models to innovations in Dutch and European copyright. Most important, I gave an overview of interesting online streaming music developments to keep an eye on. Here, I want to share this overview with you in an overview divided over two posts. As we’re midway through 2010, where’s online streaming music at?

Part one: The services and their features

It is often said that the future of music lies in online streaming music platforms. At this moment we can see that this future is already taking shape in the U.S.. One could say that there is even a ‘market’ developing with several well funded companies, remarkable start-ups and innovative business models. What does this streaming music market has to offer at this moment?

On demand catalogues versus online lockers

As pointed out in an earlier post there is a distinction visible between two online streaming music models. The first one, the on demand catalogue model offers users access to a large catalogue of licensed music, often consisting of about 7-10 million tracks (in comparison, iTunes has about 11 million tracks available worldwide). Examples of services with on demand streaming music catalogues are the American MOG All Access, Rdio, and Rhapsody.

These services are not yet available outside the US. However, in Europe the French Deezer and the Swedish Spotify provide access to large on demand catalogues.

The second model is the online locker model with services that let you upload your MP3 collection to their servers (your ‘locker’) and subsequently give you access this collection in streaming format through all of your (mobile) devices connected to the Internet. Companies that provide these services are MP3Tunes and mSpot and with some hacking it’s possible to transform Google Docs into an online music locker.

Social and sharing features

In social life music has always played an important role. Music accompanies important events, has been gathering people throughout the ages and has been shared with each other via performances, tapes, cassettes, CDs, and file sharing systems. Most streaming music services make sharing music even easier than before and are focusing on sociability more and more. Why swap MP3s when you can send links to streams?

The streaming services provide different sharing features and methods. Spotify for example connects your music library to your Facebook account and makes it possible to browse easily trough someone else’s music collection. Rdio takes the social aspect of music even more serious and shows you what your friends are playing at this moment and what they think of it.


Pricing plans are getting more and more equal. Almost all services offer free plans, restricting you either by advertisements that interrupt your music experience or in the size of your music locker. Most subscription entry levels lie at about $5 and give you unlimited uninterrupted access to streaming music for one month played via your desktop computer or in the case of the online locker model give you access to a locker of about 20-50 GB. Chip in about $10 monthly and most services will give you access to their full service for both web and mobile.

Streaming music services are becoming an attractive option for consumers between the rather expensive iTunes a la carte model and the illegal file-sharing systems. The services are being used for passive radio-like music listening but are also used by music enthusiasts to make their music collections 2010-proof. As access to the Internet is becoming a first need and as mobile networks move towards the 4th generation (4G) their popularity is likely only to increase in the near future.

Keep an eye on this blog or subscribe to the RSS feed for the follow up post where I will give an overview of the money that’s in streaming music, who’s planning to join this sector and what’s next in streaming music.

2 Responses to “Streaming Music, Where Are We At? (1/2)”

  1. […] In the first post of a series of two, I give an overview of interesting online streaming music to monitor developments in the mid-2010. View full post on Music Streaming – Google Blog Search […]

  2. […] van Ooijen Midway through 2010, where’s streaming music at? In the second part of this overview (click here for the first part) I will first look into who’s investing how many dollars in which companies. After that, I take a […]

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