So it is with streaming music services. They all stream and serve pretty much the same things at similar prices. From Spotify to Pandora, from Google to Apple, and now Amazon, there’s all the fast music places with the same items on the menu. What differentiates McDonald’s from In-N-Out Burger?
Fast Food Subscription
Spotify garnered a measure of success a few years ago by attracting a tens of millions of listeners to free and subscription music. Apple simply joined the fast
food music party with a larger marketing budget, a billion built-in potential customers, no need for profitability, and a larger music portfolio. Otherwise, same old same old.
Amazon Music Unlimited has hit the streets of your ears and credit card with yet another $9.99 a month subscription for all the music you can stream, download, and listen to. What’s the differentiation? Amazon Prime members get a $2.00 a month discount.
Apple’s Siri works with Apple Music which allows you to switch channels with a voice command, but Amazon’s new streaming service works with a voice system, too– Alexa in the add-on Echo boxes. Buy an Echo and pay as little as $3.99 a m month to subscribe to Amazon Music Unlimited.
One of the problems with streaming music services is the same as it is with hamburgers. Differentiation. What differentiates McDonald’s from In-N-Out Burger? Different names for the same kind of meat, bread, cheese, sauce and shakes isn’t really true differentiation.
Likewise, these streaming services have mostly– but not always– the same music, whether it’s the latest hits from some hot selling artist, or a catalog of golden oldies for those of us who remember music from yesterday more than we listen to music today.
Whether recording artists are making any money with the streaming subscription services or not– and I suspect they’re probably making less than by selling a song or album online– remains to be seen, but there’s been a slow and steady drift in recent years toward streaming subscription services vs. buy your own songs to add to a collection.
Streaming music solves a problem I have with my iPhone– where most of my music is listened to but not stored– and that’s storage. My Mac holds my entire music collection, while my iPhone can hold only a specific number of songs but an unlimited number of streaming songs.
Yet, streaming music causes another problem with my aforementioned iPhone. Data charges. Streaming sucks up bandwidth like crazy on smartphone data plans, a problem Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited and others have in common.
This ‘pay as you go’ problem doesn’t seem to want to go away. To use a new iPhone each year I pay the Apple iPhone Upgrade plan. Then I pay a nearby cellphone carrier by the month to use data and make calls. Now I pay subscription music services by the month to listen to that sucks up some of my data plan each month.
Subscriptions are all the rage these days, and I’m not convinced that is in my best interests. I like McDonald’s. I like In-N-Out Burger. But if they get into the subscription burger, fries, and shake business I’m out. I like the old fashioned way where I bought music I liked, stored it where I wanted, and listened to what I owned. They can tempt me with a music catalog of 30-million or more songs, but the ongoing payment is starting to chafe my credit card balance.