Analysis: RIM and Google are both tuning up new, free (for now) streaming music services.
Today’s post is all about music, since the techno-fates have conspired to bring together three different music-related stories at once.
First up, let’s talk about Magnifier, a music blog run by Google. Weird, huh? Of course there’s an angle here. Magnifier is essentially a way for Google to promote its Music Beta service. It’s a “real” music blog, though, edited by Tim Quirk, who I’m told Knows His Stuff (full disclosure: I’m no musicphile). Before Google, he was senior vice president of Rhapsody, so there’s a pedigree in place.
Anyway, every day Magnifier will be giving away music to Music Beta members. Access to Music Beta is still invite only, but there’s a signup link on the blog and they say they’re “going to make every effort to speed things up for Magnifier readers.” Once you’re logged into Music Beta just click the “Add Free Music” button under the songs you’re interested in, and bam! They’re in your Music Beta account under the “Free Songs” section. No messy downloading or waiting; play them right away.
For now Music Beta is free, the songs are free…it’s hard to find something to complain about in this deal!
Next up, and sticking in the Google camp, YouTube has relaunched its music section. I have to be honest, I only noticed this because of the purple electric guitar logo they put on the site, and had to check with some of my younger coworkers to see if the whole section was new. It’s not, but they’ve added some new features, such as recommendations based on what you’ve watched in the past. Also of interest are curated playlists, starting off with one by The Red Hot Chili Peppers (The Chili Peppers Guide to Rock). Upcoming guides include Lady Gaga’s Guide To Pop coming on Saturday, according to Mashable. In fact I’m going to refer you to Mashable for a lot more details on what has changed with YouTube Music.
New Sounds From RIM
Now let’s dip our ears into the rumor well (yeah, that was groan-worthy). Cnet blasted out a scoop (their word) yesterday suggesting that RIM is putting together a Blackberry Music Service. The Wall Street Journal quickly followed up with more details. WSJ says the service will be called BBM Music and could launch as early as next week. It’ll allow users access to 50 songs at once. It’ll be considerably cheap than existing services (which generally cost $10/month).
There are already a lot of streaming music services out there, but it seems like the Blackberry platform isn’t often supported. I checked a few; Rdio.com and Rhapsody.com did support Blackberry, but MOG.com and Spotify.com didn’t. RIM could try to work with the existing services to get support on their platform, but of course if RIM creates a service it’ll be RIM collecting the profits, too.
That said, BBM Music doesn’t appear to be trying to compete with existing services according to the Journal:
“According to people who have discussed the service with RIM executives, the new service isn’t intended to compete directly with Apple Inc.’s iTunes or music service Spotify, which launched recently in the U.S. Instead, the BlackBerry service is supposed to help younger users “customize” their phones and share their songs with friends.”
This fits in with the idea of offering a paltry 50 songs.
I can’t deny feeling a bit uneasy about how fractured these streaming music services are becoming, though. My biggest fear is that one or more of them will start buying exclusives (if they aren’t already), forcing users to make hard decisions between belonging to more than one service, or missing out on some of the music they love.
Anyway, we can worry about that later. For now we’ve got free music on Magnifier and YouTube to help ease us into the weekend!