Who Will Be The Online Music King?
If free music online is dying, which in some ways it seems to be, with the death of Grooveshark and continual offensives against pirates. There are still some other methods, such as YouTube or Spotify, but both involve more advertising than Grooveshark ever did.
So, in this atmosphere, the musical arms of a lot of technological companies want to win. Apple has launched a streaming music service, and Microsoft is rebranding its Xbox Music service into something new. Google’s Play Music has occasionally inserted itself into important events, such as giving away an album by Lorde.
With that in mind, it always seem that one service or another winds up winning in these races. It’s never a very split contest. Someone comes out way ahead, and the others fade away. Microsoft, after all, used to have its Zune service. It may still have it, for those that still own Zunes. But the Zune never posed a serious threat to Apple’s iPod, and maybe was never actually intended to do so. Regardless, the iPod has become the dominant music device. As time has gone on, though, and phone storage has greatly increased, regular smart phones have more often become the musical device of choice.
This creates a choice for the user. If they’re using an Android phone, they’ll most likely end up using Google Music or Spotify, although there are still other options. These are highly visible music options, and often they end up being the choice. In this way, Google’s Music Store could wind up the most successful in terms of sales and usage, since Android phones are much more prevalent than iPhones.
Amazon Music also has a stake in all this, but in the end what will matter is what is easiest, and probably cheapest, for the user. Whichever service can offer the most music for the lowest price will ultimately win the first round, though higher quality services that come up, which cost a bit more, may stand a chance as well. What is clear is that iTunes and similar early kings of the online music industry have lost some of their dominance, and other services have cropped up to take online music sales away from them.
Ultimately, fierce competition is good for the end user, and the companies will have to compete on price as well as everything else. The real winner will be the one that can negotiate the best contracts with the music industry while also extracting the fairest rates from the customers. For some, this will simply mean running advertisements that pay more than they would make from charging customers for use.
This is the age of the Internet, and anyone can just pirate the music if they want. By signing up for a service, they aim for convenience and legitimacy at the same time. This has been the case as long as paid music services have existed. This being the case, one service will eventually dominate. In the meantime, it’s interesting to watch the race.
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