Beats Vs. Spotify: Let The Streaming Wars Begin

Posted: Jan 22 2014, 4:21am CST | by , Updated: Jan 22 2014, 4:26am CST, in Technology News


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Beats Vs. Spotify: Let The Streaming Wars Begin
Photo Credit: Forbes

Beats Music is being launched today to much fanfare and rightfully so. Using “music curation” as its main calling card, it’s a different take on a theme used by other competitive services. Whether the public views that as a good enough reason to shell out their $9.95 a month, we’ll soon see.

In the meantime, Spotify is attempting to steal Beats Music thunder at every turn, announcing that it will now provide unlimited free mobile streaming (with ads) on the same day that Beats Music announced its launch last week. Now comes the official day of the launch and Spotify is at it again, this time announcing that it’s considering a new feature that programs upcoming music to your heartbeat. It doesn’t matter if it actually introduces this feature or not, it’s a juicy enough story to be front and center in the news, and that’s what the company really wants.

Welcome to the streaming wars, where the potential pie is so large that each seemingly small move by the companies involved can have extreme strategic importance. You think retailers beat each other up? You ain’t seen nothing yet (to borrow a phrase from Messrs. Bachman and Turner). Prepare for the major back and forth bashing to come.

Streaming music is actually divided into two categories; the radio-like non-interactive, and those that are on-demand. Pandora and iTunes Radio fall into the first category, where the user is unable to access specific songs, only playlists that are fine-tuned by a proprietary algorithm to match the tastes of the listener. On-demand services include Spotify and Beats Music, where a song or album can be called up as the feeling hits you.

Most of the on-demand services actually blur the lines between non-interactive and true on-demand, as they also make suggestions or provide playlists, and even provide access to online radio stations as well. Beats Music takes the playlist idea a step further by having them provided by well-known music celebs, niche leaders, or vaunted “people in the know,” although iTunes Radio does something similar with its themed and featured “stations.”

Each service also has millions of songs available (usually between 10 and 20 million or more) so it’s easy enough to take a deep dive into almost any artist or genre. And every one except Beats operates on some sort of freemium model where there’s a way to take the service for a spin to see if it floats your boat or not.

But if they all do basically the same thing, what’s the distinction between them? In the case of Beats Music, besides the curation it also sports a very easy to use interface (which can’t be said for all services), excellent audio quality (it’s built on the MOG platform, which was always noted as a step above the rest), and what seems to be totally unique, curation of the songs themselves.

The word is that Beats has been very careful in collecting and tagging only the best versions of popular songs so you don’t accidentally call up an outtake, live or cover version of the song you want. For those that regularly run into this problem, this feature could be worth the 10 bucks a month alone. Don’t be surprised if other services also begin to offer fewer songs that are more carefully chosen as feature in the near future.

With the upcoming YouTube Music service and the introduction of Deezer into the US sometime soon, what we’re seeing now is only the opening shot of the war. Expect the volume to be turned up in coming months as the various services face off against one another. Anyone care to predict which one will be the first to fall?

Source: Forbes

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