Subscription-based music services may never live up to their lofty expectations, despite continued support from a number of companies.
The concept appeals to a certain demographic, though overall tallies remain modest. Just recently, Napster disclosed subscriber totals of 830,000, though an upcoming earnings release will probably bump that number. Others, like Yahoo Music Unlimited and the recently-launched Zune Marketplace, have not released totals. Most recently, RealNetworks touted a tally of 2.7 million, up 1.63 million from last year, though that figure combines premium radio and Rhapsody subscribers.
Despite the foggy math, RealNetworks is now claiming the top slot among its subscription peers, and a second-place ranking within the larger space. During a second quarter financial review on Tuesday, the company pointed to a “commanding lead over Napster, Yahoo and Zune based on both revenue and overall subscriber numbers,” and a “status as the second-largest player in the overall digital music market.”
In terms of music-based revenues, RealNetworks revealed sales of $36.8 million, up 22 percent from the same quarter last year. Overall RealNetworks revenues reached a record of $136.2 million, a 52 percent gain, though net income plunged 96.6 percent to $1.3 million. The explanation for the dive comes from Microsoft, which completed its last payment obligations under a massive antitrust settlement during the first quarter of this year.