After Sucking at Streaming Music, Sony Calls Spotify…


Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming service doesn’t have a very high profile. The service is a tough sell compared to global services that are easier to use.

So why fight Spotify when you can join them?

Sony Music Unlimited will close on March 29th.  Then it will be replaced by “Playstation Music“. 

The new service has Sony branding, but this is basically a fancy way of saying Spotify is coming to Sony products (Spotify is Playstation Music’s “exclusive partner”). Playstation Music will be available on PS3, PS4, and Xperia phones and tablets.  PS4 users will have the ability to stream music in the background as they play games.

Both Spotify Premium and free Spotify accounts will be supported.



Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

24 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    Let’s close Spotify too! …or evolve it closer to Pandora and convert both to simple music store.

    The only route to CASH and HAPPINESS for EVERYONE!

    • Sarah

      Could you please explain exactly what you are proposing, from the consumer’s perspective?
      I thank you in advance.

        • Sarah

          I did, thanks. Still unclear on the exact user experience he envisions. The forced universal “You like it? Want to hear it again? You must pay!” approach seems like something that would not go over well with people.

          In fact, it seems like an invitation for people to invent clever ways of getting around it, just like they’ve gotten around DRM. I think music should definitely not be universally free, because it sure isn’t free to create, and even I have a negative emotional response to this particular concept.

          On another point, this plan requires universal cooperation in an extremely radical plan in order to succeed. I can’t imagine any situation in which this number of players could be expected to unanimously agree on a single implementation of this sort of plan. Also, as for legal action, what politician wants to have to run on a platform of “holding your favorite song hostage until you pay”?

          Because of how unpopular this would be with consumers even if it were successfully implemented (super duper unpopular), the first company to break ranks and switch to a different system would get a large percentage of the market as well as massive goodwill amongst consumers – so the temptation to do that would be enormous.

          However, I agree on the basic principle that consumers should pay for music – it just requires some serious refining as to who should pay, why, and in what context.

          I also agree with the concept that song download prices are probably too high in many cases. The solution, though, is not to mandate a set price – how is that any less intrusive on the artist’s right to control his work?

          Any time someone says “all songs should be priced at X,” they’re effectively saying “all songs are equal in both cost to the creator and value to the consumer.” Common sense should tell you that is not the case.

          Finally, successful implementation of this plan would nearly or completely eliminate voluntary patronage. The more stringently payment is demanded, the less willing people are to voluntarily contribute more than the minimum. This can be seen clearly in studies on the effect of taxes on charitable donations: the more people pay in taxes, the less they tend to contribute to charitable causes because they feel the tax payment has fully satisfied any obligation to contribute.

          Perhaps this plan would be incredibly successful for the music industry – that is, for the big companies. But I think it’s nearly impossible to implement, and then, if implemented, impossible to sustain. Regardless, I doubt very much that it would benefit either artists or consumers, who would be locked into a system they do not control.

          • Remi Swierczek

            Dear Sarah,

            Users are in the state of ecstasy!

            It is time to treat musicians as normal hard working citizens of The Earth.

            We can not reward only “LIVE GRADE” artists who have busted glass celling w/ YouTube or other fluke.

            Time to create smple system where any piece of brilliant art is monetized on equal ground with “star crap”

            Discovery Moment Monetization kills most of the piracy, brings democracy and the MARKET to music art!

            Call me at anytime especially if you have access to L. Page, L. Blavatnik or OPRAH.

          • Sarah

            Oh, I can support your general goal. It’s your strategy for getting there that I seriously question.

            If you’ll notice, I raised some legitimate concerns with your plan.

            If you want anyone to take you seriously, you should respond specifically to concerns that are raised, rather than ignoring them and repeating “Let’s do it!” ad nauseam.

            I, for instance, was willing to take you seriously and consider your suggestion. However, you didn’t respond seriously; you ignored my serious comments and just exclaimed how right you are.

            You can probably see by now that your approach to promoting your position isn’t getting you far.

            If you want to be taken seriously, perhaps you should consider acting seriously.

          • Remi Swierczek

            Dear Sarah,
            I am a mechanical engineer, specialty “cars and tractors”, so I am not the best communicator, especially in English.
            I would hope to see professional jurnalists to take over my PRIMITIVE crusade to music cash & happiness.
            So far no luck!
            The crowd continues the march to ZOMBIE zone.
            I assure you, soon, IFPI will announce 2014 shrinkage below $14B!
            1999=today $57B.
            Some creativity, some pride – PLEASE!

          • Sarah

            That makes the internet a difficult place for you to try to get your message across. 🙂

            What you are doing is nonetheless ineffective. It will get you nowhere, I’m sorry to say.

            If you are serious and think that your idea truly has merit and is feasible, then talk to someone – anyone – who communicates well in English and get their help shortening your message down to key facts and points.

            When a person expresses interest in your idea by raising a question or criticism, address it directly – even if you need to have someone help you write a clear answer.

            But don’t waste your time with messages that really just say “I’m right.”
            You might as well be saying “I am a wizard who can fly and turn dirt into gold and I also have a pet unicorn that I recently took on a trip to the moon.”

            If you think you are right, do the work to effectively communicate that.

          • Anon

            This guy comments on every thread about his idea with no real facts to back up how he will create 100 billion dollars for the music industry. It’s getting old.

          • RDS

            Read my blog, if you do not understand call me, there is a #, then become an advocate of common sense.

          • smg77

            His plan is basically making you pay a fee every time you use Shazam.

          • jw

            Which reduces the usefulness of the service… putting discovery on the far side of a paywall slashes the number of Shazam uses drastically, especially when the alternative is just googling the lyrics. The argument is essentially that people will pay $x in order to not have to google lyrics. The notion that traffic will stay steady after a paywall is implemented is a farce. It’s been demonstrated time & time again that consumers will find a way around the paywall, & even go to great lengths to find a free route. So trying to extrapolate future revenues from current traffic is ridiculous.

            This is as much a psychology solve as it is an engineering solve.

          • Remi Swierczek

            Can you tell us what kind of USEFULNESS you need from Shazam besides the need of future relationship with your current emotion? Please give me a good argument and might divert my time to my flooring business.

          • jw

            Well let’s deal with the obvious fact first… in 2000, people were buying entire CDs. You saw a music video on MTV, you heard a song on the radio, & you saw or heard it enough times that you went to a store & you bought the song as a package with 10 or 11 other songs. Your “discovery moment monetization” model is set up to only sell singles. So from the start, the potential is only there to generate 10 or 20% of that revenue. And if you’re discounting the song to incentivize an impulse purchase, you’re trimming that down even further. If your hope is that you’ll sell enough singles to make up for the unbundling, that’s not a cost effective strategy. Because a label is going to still have to spend the same amount of money promoting each single, whether the end goal is selling 1 song or 12 songs. The expensive part is the marketing. And effective promotional channels are scarce as it stands, & the top 40 can only hold 40 songs at a time, anyhow. So increasing the number of successfully launched singles isn’t really conceivable.

            The reason that labels release a single, sometimes multiple singles, weeks or months in advance of an album launch is that it takes that much recognition before a consumer is willing to commit to buy the whole album. There may be $.99 in the “discovery moment,” but there’s potentially $12.99 in 2 or 3 months of carpet bombing the general public with the single(s). So your approach actually flies in the face of the strategies that made the recorded music industry so successful leading up to y2k. The labels made that money because they WANTED the radio to say the name of the song. They wanted the song to show up on your dash, they loved that idea! Because the thing that they were leveraging was precisely that consumer familiarity.

            So your whole strategy is wrong. And monetization predictions are all way off. You need to completely recalculate everything.

            Furthermore… and let’s just, for a moment, completely ignore that Shazam has determined that the money is in providing companion content to television, advertisements, etc, & was only really using music as a stepping stone & proof of concept… let’s ignore that for the sake of conversation. So focusing on the music aspect, you haven’t identified the incentives for a company like Spotify to cooperate with your plan. Even if everyone else falls in line, Spotify could see that as a marketshare land grab. The only way you could possibly get everyone to fall in line is if you bought all of the services & shuttered Spotify, Rdio, et al yourself. And surely that would raise the eyebrows of the U.S. gov’t. And even in the incredibly unlikely event that you could pull it off, what’s to stop another company from popping up and filling that void? It becomes a wack-a-mole game. I would start a streaming company myself just so you’d have to buy me out to keep your system in tact. And Grooveshark (which is still online) is another example of the type of rogue start-ups who would be trying to prevent you from gaining traction.

            I mean, on top of your core assumptions being wrong, the likelihood of you getting all of these companies with competing interests to work together, or raising enough capital to buy them all, is like a bazillion to one.

            You should focus on flooring & give the “discovery moment monetization” propaganda a rest.

          • Remi Swierczek

            JW, you must be Shazam employee. Shazam is clueless about money for almost 14 years.
            Hire yourself and few top folks from Shazam at your local farm market and observe how the money is made once you figure out how the end of the day profit is made go back and redraw the business plan.

            Shazam, Spotify or Pandora are just digital era financial nerds blessed by the owners of the goods and not to engaged, silicon investors!

  2. Anonymous

    Sony Music Unlimited has a full catalogue from all labels, not just Sony Music.

    You would have thought Digital Music News would have known that.

  3. FarePlay

    In what may be one of the biggest pay days for the major labels and Merlin, this is another tacit endorsement for the financially strugglining Spotify to support them in their goal to launch a successful IPO.

    Wouldn’t it be tragically ironic if the equity burden brings Spotify down after kicking open the door to allow interactive music streaming to become an established service that many believe will have a profound, lasting negative impact on artists and songwriters and their ability to monetize their work.

  4. jw

    I love how the criticisms are interchangeable. “The catalog, the UX… there had to be something wrong with it!” I’ve never used the service, but it doesn’t sound like Nina has, either.

    The reality is that paying $3.50 for a subscription you can only use on Playstation is sort of silly. The number of users who used that as their primary listening environment was clearly very small. If you don’t support mobile, you might as well go ahead & fold your cards now.

    Clearly, Sony realized this & adopted a multi-platform service with a built-in user base in Spotify. Smart business move. I don’t know if the service itself was necessarily to blame. If I had to guess, I wouldn’t think it was a churn issue (DMN is speculating there), I think the problem is more likely that no one really had a reason to check it out at all. But if a Spotify app mysteriously shows up with the next PSN update, it’s more likely to get clicked. Especially if it’s accompanied by any fanfare.

  5. Andreas Æ

    This is an interesting back way into the highly seclusive Japanese market and perhaps further Asian markets for Spotify. You’ve got to give them credit for ingenuity – no doubt Sony will see its share of the cake – what’s left for the musicians? Please report on further developments. Thank you.

    • Jeff Robinson

      Interesting to note a few things:

      1. Sony Music Unlimited was supplied their music through Omnifone. Not sure of the details of that company, the name seems to imply an overseas digital supplier to phone services? Anybody know?

      2. The Orchard digital distribution company is owned by Sony. I mention this because in my conversations with reps at the Orchard, they had no idea who supplied content to Sony Music Unlimited. I had to sort it out through looking at distribution statements and do research on my own. Until I provided such proof, the rep was adamant about the Orchard NOT servicing playstation or Sony Music Unlimited and kept referring to the Sony service as ‘video only’.

      3. Will the new Sony Platform still receive it’s content through Omnifone or will it be supplied through some other means? Will the same 2.2 cents a stream royalty still apply when Spotify takes over the music service or will the royalty drop to current rate of .6 to 1.6 cents a stream that Spotify currently pays for the sale royalty?


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