First Click: Great, now I need a subscription to subscription music services

July 2nd, 2015


It has finally come to this: I need a subscription to subscription streaming music services. A subscription that sits on top of all the others so I don’t have to worry when Dre and Taylor launch exclusives on Apple Music, Led Zeppelin debuts on Spotify, or Jay Z holds a private concert on Tidal. No matter what, I know I’ll have access.

It’s doubtful I’d ever pay full price for more than one music streaming service. Exclusives aside, they all share what’s essentially the same back-catalog of 30 million tracks. But instead of paying the usual $10 per month for access to a single streaming service, I reckon I’d pay $15 per month for the convenience of easily accessing two of them. Maybe $25, max, for three. If 80 percent of my tracks are played on Spotify then Spotify gets 80 percent of the cut with the rest to be divided proportionally. Everyone's assured at least a little money and each gets to compete for my ear. Maybe I’ll listen to the service with the best curated playlists, maybe I’ll listen to the service with the highest bitrate, or maybe I’ll listen to the service that offers the most exclusive content. Who knows — may the best service win.

Unfortunately, I doubt the services are motivated to offer what’s essentially a cable television model for music, even though the mechanics have already been worked out on the delivery side.

Sonos aggregates access to "all the music on Earth" via its iOS, Android, Mac and PC apps that let me search for an artist, track, or album across all the services to which I subscribe. That includes Spotify, Rdio, Soundcloud, Tidal, Deezer, Google Play, 22Tracks, and many more, with Apple Music being added later this year. But instead of sending the music streaming out my Sonos speakers, my fantasy subscription app would send it out the headphone jack on my smartphone.

Music services are becoming increasingly fragmented. Every day it seems we have another super-wealthy and powerful artist declaring allegiance to a sole provider. Yesterday it was Pharrell’s new track on Apple Music, today it’s Prince on Tidal. Who will it be tomorrow?

If my service of choice doesn’t carry the track I’m searching for then I’ll try to buy it and upload it to my song locker. Failing that I'll just pirate it unapologetically, like most people living in a post-Napster world.

Five stories to start your day

  1. Prince begins removing his music from streaming services

    Prince giveth, and Prince taketh away. On the same day that the Purple Rain writer shared a new track, HARDROCKLOVER, on his Soundcloud page, he also began removing his back catalog from music streaming services. The Purple One's music is no longer accessible on Spotify, and a note on his artist page reads: "Prince's publisher has asked all streaming services to remove his catalog. We have cooperated with the request, and hope to bring his music back as soon as possible."

  2. Rihanna debuts NSFW video as she's crowned the most successful singles artist in US history

    The announcement coincides with the release of a cinematic new video for Rihanna's single "Bitch Better Have My Money." In the NSFW video, released yesterday, Rihanna kidnaps and tortures a woman in order to extract money from her partner (identified as "the bitch" in the video), and then spends most of the time partying and doing drugs.

  3. Sprint CEO calls T-Mobile's Uncarrier movement 'bullshit'

    Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure finally snapped at Legere tonight, reacting to the T-Mobile boss' criticism of Sprint's new ad campaign with a four-tweet salvo in which he said he was tired of T-Mobile's "Uncarrier bullshit," and said that the company lied to consumers.

  4. Apple’s newly appointed design execs report to Cook, not Ive

    Although today's news is consistent with what was expected about Ive's new role, some tech commentators speculated in May that the man responsible for some of Apple's most iconic designs may be preparing to leave the company.

  5. We’re so close to seeing Pluto it hurts

    Watch Pluto slowly spin and increasingly come into focus while Charon, one of the dwarf planet's moons, dances in orbit. While you're staring, think about the nine-year-long journey through space that New Horizons — a spacecraft that's bringing us closer to Pluto than ever — has taken. Then, right at the moment where Pluto starts to fill the screen to the point where you think you can make out what it really looks like... BAM.

Trap Lord of the day