Today a rumour has popped up online claiming Apple’s long-rumoured Beats-branded streaming services is being designed to take on the overlords of the music streaming business: Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, and so on. This certainly wouldn’t be the first time anyone has given that a go, and a lot of companies have tried to dominate the online music scene. Some of them failed miserably, some of them got stuck within the realms of relative obscurity, and some of them just faded away. Here are 9 failed music streaming services that Apple should be looking closely at – starting with one of their own.
Before Apple had grand plans of usurping Spotify with Beats, but after it had manage to convince people into buying all their music from iTunes, Apple had a little idea for a service called Ping. Ping was a music-based social network that launched on 1st September 2010, and was and a way for people to recommend music to other people.
Despite the endorsement of famous musicians like Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Lady Gaga, Ping was a colossal failure. Not only was it unable to replicate the success of Facebook in the two years it was active, the service was absolutely swamped by spam and fake accounts. Much of the spam seemed to be attempting to scam people with offers of free iPhones or iPads, and Apple faced a lot of criticism for not doing something as simple as filtering spam.
By the end of its life less than a million people had signed up for Ping, and it was finally closed at the end of September in 2012.
Sony Music Unlimited
Sony Music Unlimited came to be after the streaming service Qriosity was was integrated into the Playstation Network in January of 2012. Three years later and that service’s time on this earth is coming to an end.
Sony recently announced that the service is being shut down in March, in favour of a different streaming service called Playstation Music. It’s not just a rebrand either, Playstation Music will be a brand new Spotify-powered service coming to Playstation consoles. That further cements the idea that Spotify is the king of music streaming doesn’t it?
The successor to Microsoft’s ‘Zune Pass’ subscription for the Zune Marketplace, Xbox Music originally launched to help Microsoft focus on the multimedia aspects of its games consoles and help it stake a claim in the business of digital music sales and streaming.
Here’s the major problem with Xbox Music: it doesn’t have a free version anymore. Prior to last December it was possible to listen to Xbox Music free of charge (with ads) for a limited number of hours every month. Microsoft did away with that, opting to focus on the subscription model instead. You get a 30-day free trial when you sign up, but that’s about it.
Xbox Music still isn’t a very big name and the problem is that it doesn’t offer anything unique. The Zune built up a pretty poor reputation for Microsoft’s music ambitions, and by the time the company changed the branding to something more popular other services had already established users’ loyalty. Microsoft has a huge battle if it wants to succeed, and it’s a battle that it probably won’t win.
Twitter #Music was designed to harness the conversations people were having about music on Twitter and create brand new ways for people to discover music that they love. It launched in April 2013, and by the end of March 2014 Twitter has officially declared that the service was dead and would cease to work for existing users.
It made sense that Twitter would want to take advantage of the engagement between users and musicians on Twitter, but the problem was that it just wasn’t enough. #Music was simply an app that pointed people in the direction of a song that they could access on a completely different service, making it an annoying middle man. Why go to a separate app if it’s just going to point you to a service that has its own recommendations system? Maybe Twitter should have tried to integrate the feature into the official Twitter app instead of relying on something separate.
Google Play Music All Access
I’m sure if you asked Google what it thought about Google Play Music All Access you’d get some business talk about its success and what the future expectations are. There doesn’t seem to be any serious cause for concern, but it’s obvious that something isn’t quite right. When YouTube Music Key was announced at the tail end of last year, Google made the decision to bundle an GPMAA subscription into the service. The obvious issue there is that YouTube Music Key is the same prices as an GPMAA subscription (£10 a month).
That makes me wonder how much faith Google has in GPMAA by itself. I’m sure plenty of people use it, but it doesn’t have the same brand appeal as Spotify. YouTube, on the other hand, does, and Music Key subscription offers much more interesting bonus features like offline playback, ad-free viewing, and specially curated playlists. If you ask me YouTube is going to be the future of Google’s music streaming ambitions, not Google Play.
Did you know BlackBerry used to have a music service of its own? I certainly didn’t, and it hasn’t existed for over nearly two years now. BBM Music was a paid-for service for BlackBerry owners that let them keep up to 50 songs in a playlist of their own, as well as listening to songs in their friends’ playlists as well.
I can see why BBM Music wouldn’t do so well, and not just because it was a BlackBerry exclusive. It cost $5 a month, you were only given access to 50 songs at any given time, and you only seem to have been able to use it on your phone. Compare that to Spotify, which was offering its £5-a-month Unlimited package at the time, giving people unlimited access to the Spotify’s entire catalogue. It’s hardly a surprise BBM Music only lasted 18 months.
Ah Napster, that handy little tool that let people of the early ’00s illegally download as much music as they want without having to pay a penny. Napster originally shut down in 2002, before being reopened as a paid music store where people could purchase digital music legally. This could be done by purchasing individual songs, or by subscribing to Napster as a service. In 2006 a free ad-supported version was launched, where users could listen to songs three times each without having to pay a penny.
Napster isn’t dead, but I wouldn’t really say it’s successful at the moment. When was the last time you ever heard anyone talking about Napster without the glimmer of nostalgia in their eyes? Napster had its day, and now more interesting services have taken over.
Blinkbox Music isn’t quite dead yet, but from the way things have been going it doesn’t have long left. Tesco had been looking to sell off both Blinkbox, and Blinkbox Music since before Christmas because neither service is particularly cost effective, and failed to bring in any revenue. Blinkbox Music now belongs to Australian streaming company Guvera, a similar budget music service aimed at casual listeners. Apparently the company has been focussed on expansion for sometime, and the UK is one of the targeted markets. That means you should expect Blinkbox Music to be gone by this time next year, it will likely have been absorbed and rebranded by Guvera.
Myspace is widely considered to be an infamous social network these days, and what was once a popular social network was killed off by the popularity of Facebook. Myspace was always relatively music-centric, functioning as a place where bands could upload their songs for users to listen to. Plus, who can forget the ability to add music to your own profile and annoy anybody who decided to visit it.
Numerous rebrands were initiated to try and save the network, the most notable of which attempted to turn the site into a social entertainment network, focussing more on TV, music, film, and celebrities instead of targeting the same audience demographics that were so prevalent on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. It didn’t work, and as of last year Myspace only has 1 million active users — a far cry from the 76-or-so million it had at its peak.