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Microsoft Media Music

Microsoft Readies a Rival To Spotify 216

Posted by kdawson
from the never-step-twice-into-the-same-stream dept.
Barence writes "Microsoft has confirmed it is preparing to launch a music streaming service. The service will be a direct rival to Spotify, hugely popular in the UK (but unavailable in the US), which allows users to stream music for free in return for listening to around a minute's worth of advertisements every half hour. 'It will be a similar principle to Spotify but we are still examining how the business model will work,' said Peter Bale, executive producer of MSN." The article claims that the new service will boost the popularity of the Zune player, though how this is to happen is not explained. There doesn't seem to be a close tie-in between device and service, as there is between the iPod and the iTunes Store.
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Microsoft Readies a Rival To Spotify

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  • Just how relevant are they these days?

    • by bakuun (976228) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @05:56PM (#28696943)
      Pretty relevant I'd say, seeing as it's the largest software company in the world.
      • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @06:00PM (#28697003) Homepage Journal

        umm.. Chrysler is one of the biggest car companies in the world.

         

        • by bakuun (976228) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @06:11PM (#28697143)

          umm.. Chrysler is one of the biggest car companies in the world.

          And ExxonMobil is one of the largest companies overall. So what? Chrysler may have financial difficulties - Microsoft certainly hasn't.

          • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:01AM (#28701161) Journal

            It's no surprise MS is going for this. Summary states its popular in UK, but it's really popular everywhere in Europe, despite needing invites to get account. Even "pro-piracy" forum users are saying in news comments how spotify has changed their listening habits and they dont pirate music anymore because spofity is just so convenient. I also am in long-distance relationship with my gf currently (was necessary for her school program) and we've always had similar music taste, so now we paste spotify links to each other in facebook or im to listen to something newly discovered good music.

            This *IS* what music industry needed and its great they've understood it now. Now just bring the same for movies and games, I'm even happy to pay monthly subscriptions for it. Just make it convenient and easy for me.

            • by nschubach (922175)

              Since it says Spotify isn't available in the US (really?) I assume it's pretty much just like Last.FM or is it more like Pandora?

              • by robthebloke (1308483) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @08:33AM (#28702087)
                Dunno about pandora, can't get it in the uk. Spotify is a bit like last fm, except that you get to listen to full albums (rather than a few tracks per artist), and it has a far greater selection of music available. Unlike the other services I've tried though, it does feel a lot less restrictive - just inserts an advert between every few songs.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by sopssa (1498795) *

                You cant compare it to Last.FM or Pandora. Its more like itunes store or your local mp3 files, just that when you search for something you can just click on it and it starts playing. The great thing is that they've managed to do it so that it *does start playing right away*, no lag and no buffering even tho that its streaming. It just feels like those are on your own computer and the quality is good.

                Advertisement amount varies by country. I heard my german and uk friends get more advertisements, but I get

          • by noundi (1044080)

            Chrysler may have financial difficulties - Microsoft certainly hasn't.

            Say what now? [go.com]

            Don't kid yourself. Almost any corporation has difficulties these days, especially certain software corporations since other corporations using these softwares are beginning to question the necessities. OpenOffice is quickly gaining ground, and in my experience the biggest reason why corporations aren't fully migrating to OpenOffice is that their affiliates are still using MS Office, and you can just imagine peoples faces when they receive a .odt file instead of a .doc file. So it's really n

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by TheLink (130905)

              Their ex-staff might have financial difficulties, but I don't see anything in that link that shows that Microsoft has financial difficulties.

              So far they don't look like they're hurting.
              http://www.microsoft.com/msft/earnings/FY09/earn_rel_q2_09.mspx [microsoft.com]
              http://www.microsoft.com/msft/reports/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

              If that's considered "financial difficulty" I wouldn't mind having more of that.

              Maybe on July 23 they might declare a loss against all odds...

              • by noundi (1044080)
                So you don't consider having to fire 5000 employees in order to continue providing positive figures a financial difficulty, I do. No need to continue this.
                • by TheLink (130905)
                  Of course not. They're firing 5000 employees in _anticipation_ of a decline in revenues and downturns are always good excuses to get rid of excess staff that hopefully a company doesn't need.

                  Very many companies use economic downturns as an excuse to slash jobs worldwide, even if they are doing OK and can actually be profitable keeping those jobs.

                  Go look at the figures. They declared a net income of USD4 billion for the _quarter_ (3 months ending Dec 2008) on the same day they declared they were slashing 500
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              The fact that they slash 5000 jobs is no indication of how well they're doing.

              • by noundi (1044080)
                The term "how well they're doing" is very vague. If you're talking about revenue then no, revenue and amount of jobs are not in direct corelation. If you're talking about market demand then yes, it indicates that the market demand is lower than expected which would render these 5000 employees unprofitable. It's really quite simple. If you own a company and notice that the workload is getting too large, you're in need of additional workforce, thus you hire new people. When the market demand for your product
        • But Microsoft has a positive cash flow to go with its status.
      • by religious freak (1005821) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @06:04PM (#28697053)
        And I'll say, if they can get this right, they deserve to be the biggest. Music could be dealt with so much better than it is, in terms of business and technology. If I could listen to a measly 1 minute of commercials for 30 minutes of music that I choose, and didn't have to pay for, and not break the law, I'd do it.

        Yeah, I could just download whatever I want off of TPB or whatever, but I don't do it - not only because I don't want to break the law and get sued, but because I still don't personally feel comfortable consuming something which I did not pay the artist for. (Don't jump down my throat, I'm not judging those who choose to do it, but I'm just saying for myself no matter how I justify it, I'd be getting something for free which I shouldn't).

        Get some good, targeted ads, make arrangements with the labels, and get this going in a good direction once and for all. Oh, and making the Zune not be an ugly piece of shit would help too.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Now they tell you that it will only be one minute of commercials for every 30 minutes of music...
          But we all know that this will be followed by the usual anal probing, once they dominate this market.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Opportunist (166417)

          One minute ads per half hour doesn't sound so bad to me either. Given the temperatures and the ensuing fluids consumption, taking a piss twice an hour sounds ok.

          But you know how it's gonna end, don't you? 5 nanoseconds after that service hits the market a tool will be introduced that lets you cut that ad, records the rest in perfect quality and queues everything you might want to listen to automatically for the next ten days.

          • by v1 (525388)

            One minute ads per half hour doesn't sound so bad to me either.

            Heck, that's a lot better than I get over the air here! I would PAY (a small amount...) for a service like that.

            As it is, I can't get radio reception at work due to the building, and I have to listen to my favorite station's stream [fast-serv.com] at a pathetic bitrate (24!) AND put up with about 8 minutes of ads per hour.

          • by catxk (1086945) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @08:55AM (#28702269)

            That tool is already available for Spotify. However, the 30 second commercial every half-hour just isn't enough an inconvenience for people to abandon the superb client. And why would you want to record the music to your hard drive? First of all, that is probably legal in most countries, second, why would you want to waste precious hard drive space when everything is available from Spotify? (I see one reason for this: transfer music to your mobile device, but a Spotify mobile client is under production).

        • And I'll say, if they can get this right, they deserve to be the biggest.

          I hope you meant Spotify deserves it. MS is just copying again.

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:47AM (#28701809)

          because I still don't personally feel comfortable consuming something which I did not pay the artist for.

          Do you really think that with all the middlemen still in the loop that listening to 1 minute of commercials per 30 minutes of music is going to generate any significant revenue for the artists? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that any major label music available on spotify is counted as promotional per the artists' contracts with their distributors and that they get exactly 0.0% of all such revenue.

      • Microsoft is trying to do everything, huh? OS, Office software, server systems, hardware, web apps, programming languages, ...

        Is seeing Microsoft as a single apparatus correct though or is it more like a bunch of bought up companies/development teams (huge though) that do their own thing? Can we even see Microsoft going in some direction as a whole or is gaining profit and having the same name the only common thing these groups have?

        I think it would be really hard to coordinate an evil plan with all these p

        • by bakuun (976228)
          They are still more focused on a single area (the computer industry, mainly software) than many other companies. A prime example is my own ISP, virgin media. In addition to being an ISP/telco, virgin also operates airlines, train operations, music stores and radio stations. The fact that Microsoft has quite a diverse range from different types of software to computer peripherals to gaming consoles is not a bad thing.
      • Define "relevant".

        When it comes to people looking for the direction technology is going to take, they're not. MS has never led the way. Ever. There were no "firsts". They're good at taking what has been tried and is accepted and shape it into a masses-compatible vehicle, but that's basically all there is.

        Since other companies noticed that, hey, they don't need MS to do that, they can do it themselves, MS is losing relevance pretty quickly.

      • Pretty relevant I'd say, seeing as it's the largest software company in the world.

        HP and IBM are substantially larger, although they're not exclusively software companies. (revenue in billion $: HP 118, IBM 103, MS 60)

  • by basementman (1475159) on Tuesday July 14, 2009 @05:56PM (#28696947) Homepage
    Launching their own in house streaming music service allows them to compete with both iTunes and Pandora in the music market, something they care currently getting their ass handed to them in. After all who would pay for music when they can just stream it for free on their Zune HD? It's a smart move on Microsofts part.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nizo (81281) *

      After all who would pay for music when they can just stream it for free on their Zune HD? It's a smart move on Microsofts part.

      Except to do this I would have to buy a Zune.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:52AM (#28701351)
      You can't stream to a PMP. It's pointless. If it's a streaming service, it's not going to help Zune sales, as Zune is a storage device for bought music. Spotify, if MS competing with it as the stub says, has no store. You listen at your computer in exchange for listening to some advertisments.

      If it's selling music like iTunes then it'll compete with Apple and help boost Zune sales, if it's good. If it's streaming music then it'll compete with Spotify, and nobody will care as spotify is great.
      • A point I missed: Spotify links to Amazon music store for certain tracks in order to purchase them. They may make money out of this referral service, and this may also make Spotify a choice as a sort-of music store (even though it's only a referral service being offered).

        I did know this was offered, but I've never needed to use it.
    • by corsec67 (627446)

      They would end up competing with the Slacker G2, then.

      I hope MS is big enough to make this a world-wide thing, so that other people can offer world-wide streaming service.

    • Good luck with that (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nerdposeur (910128) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @10:07AM (#28703059) Journal

      I'm all for competition, but previous music efforts by Microsoft have been hilariously bad. This interview [pcpro.co.uk] is comedic gold for cluelessness. An actual Q&A with Hugh Griffiths, Head of Mobile at Microsoft UK:

      If I buy these songs on your service - and they're locked to my phone - what happens when I upgrade my phone in six months' time?

      Well, I think you know the answer to that.

  • Last.fm is good enough. There are others. I don't see the value in another service like theirs. Last.fm has no commercials. I wouldn't want to trade a commercial free site for one with commercials.

  • Hopefully this will lead to Spotify speeding up their work towards a US launch.
  • which allows users to stream music for free in return for listening to around a minute's worth of advertisements every half hour.

    I've had one of these for decades--it's called a radio.
    • Never forget (you are welcome to scream along): "What's old is new again." {sigh}
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Russ1642 (1087959)

      Radio stations are roughly 50% ads and 50% the same songs they played two hours ago.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Colourspace (563895)
        Not if you live in the UK and have access to the BBC radio network.
        • by IBBoard (1128019)

          Then it's just 50% annoying chat instead of adverts ;) It's the one thing I don't like about radio - there's too much inane chatter from the DJs. Much better to listen to some of the "music only" stations on Sky (and probably on DAB as well - at least for some of them).

      • Planet Rock (UK www.planetrock.com ) is certainly not 50% adverts and available over this funny thing called 'the internet' & DAB. Pity it is not available on Freeview.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by noundi (1044080)

        Radio stations are roughly 50% ads and 50% the same songs they played two hours ago.

        Roughly? I'd say pretty much exactly.

      • by MrCrassic (994046)
        Depends on the station. Mainstream pro-payola radio stations operate exactly like this, but less "visible" stations actually have variety that matches internet radio, and very few commercials (somehow).
    • by Timmmm (636430) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:04AM (#28701175)

      No, with Spotify you can choose the songs you listen to yourself. It's basically iTunes with a massive library and occasional adverts.

      Actually I say occasional adverts. For some reason mine has completely stopped playing any. I have no idea why but I'm not complaining!

  • So hugely popular I've never heard of it? Nor have two of my online contacts?

    I've used Last.fm before they cut the UK off, and Sky.fm for streaming radio. I'm not sure what "Spotify" is.

    • by bakuun (976228)
      www.spotify.com, if you're in the UK (or a number of other countries) you can sign up for free. Just try it out - you'll know what it is in a matter of minutes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 117 (1013655)
      Last.fm haven't 'cut the UK off', in fact the UK is one of three countries (along with the US and Germany), where Last.fm is still available for free.
    • If you're in the UK, you're missing out. I'm serious.

      Spotify [spotify.co.uk] I've not downloaded music in months.
    • by gsslay (807818)

      So hugely popular I've never heard of it? Nor have two of my online contacts?

      Seriously? Spotify is everywhere just now, and not just among techie circles. You are more out of touch than you think.

    • You must not be a junior high student. Almost all of my students use Spotify here in Sweden.
  • why anything Microsoft fails is because they too strongly believe in DRM. the entire iTunes store for example is now completely DRM free, and all the market leaders right now are so DRM free. rental services have died a horrible death because DVD/CD media has become affordable enough not to pirate them (as in costing more time to download, then the money it costs to buy).. i put into account my minimum wage is at least 6euro's, put that over the time it costs to download 3 to 8 hours it's too expensive aft
    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      rental services have died a horrible death because DVD/CD media has become affordable enough not to pirate them

      I think that depends on the rental service. I've got an account with LoveFilm and can rent as many DVDs as I want each month for ~£15. Even when DVDs are cheap there's no way I'm getting the number of films I can watch for that kind of money!

      As for the tie-in, maybe the DRM is where it lies - the service will be free as long as you're using a Windows Vista/7 PC or a Zune!

    • Why Microsoft fails in the music market is they have next to no leverage. The only crowbar MS has ever had is their OS monopoly, and that has already jacked up as much weight as it can without bending.

      In markets where they have to compete without leverage, they have never been able to dominate. The gaming market (hardware and software) is one example and music looks like going the same way. I wonder if they themselves seriously believe they have a future outside of the Windows lock-in world.

  • Is it just me? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alx5000 (896642) <alx5000NO@SPAMalx5000.net> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @05:11AM (#28701197) Homepage

    Is it me, or lately MS looks like a fireman with a watering can, running around trying to put out fires everywhere?

    I mean, Zune (iPod), Bing (Google), this (Spottify)... Lagging behind the competition a little, are we?

  • So why should i use this instead of lastfm which features no adverts per half hour of music
    • Once you've tried Spotify, you will never ask this question again. It's that good.

      • by Fross (83754)

        Could you elaborate on why you think it's that good? I've used last.fm a bit, and spotify a bit. neither have large collections of the music I like, it seems.

        My view of Spotify was their basic "radio" channels suck (I really don't want to listen to rock, or hiphop, or jazz), though the way you can intersect and combine them is neat, (e.g., rock and hiphop only from the 80s). However, finding stuff in different genres means searching by band, finding similar bands etc. This to me isn't much better than u

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by mythz (857024)

          Well everyone at work uses it, so the best way I use it to discover music is to actually listen to each other's playlists.
          To share a playlist just right-click on the playlist click 'Copy HTTP Link' and IM the link to a friend.

          Other than that I just basically search for genre, i.e. 'acoustic', order by popularity and let it play.

          They also have Artist radio (which I don't use very much), which basically looks like listening to a random set of tracks from similar artists.

          I've actually discovered a lot more mus

          • by Fross (83754)

            Thanks for the feedback.

            I have been using the radio channels and artist radio primarily, which i agree aren't great, and that's probably why I wasn't getting a great experience out of it.

            Perhaps the UI isn't great, which is why I've not been finding this better functionality, I'll give it another try!

          • by nschubach (922175)

            That's pretty much Last.FM except you can't specify playlists unless you pay for it. You can however type in a search for a specific type of music and it will do tag comparisons for similar music and you can essentially do the same thing (with links.)

            For instance: http://www.last.fm/listen/globaltags/atmospheric [www.last.fm] <- There you go... a channel dedicated to just atmospheric music.

        • I use it as a huge jukebox - i.e. I know what I'm looking for and search for specific artists or tracks. I use old-fashioned methods to discover new music - friends' recommendations, magazine reviews or tips from online forums.

          I'm not saying this is the right or only way to do things but Spotify works for me in a way that no other online service does. I don't subscribe currently but would happily pay the £10/month if the free service disappeared.

          One of the record industry's complaints about file shari

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Laukei (1099765)
      Last.fm, at least in the UK (I'm not sure about in the US) doesn't allow you to create playlists, or listen to one song over and over an unlimited amount of times. Nor does it allow you to listen, start to finish, to an album.

      Spotify does. As previously stated by someone in the comments, it's basically just iTunes with a massive, cloud-stored library of music that plays as soon as you click it (the buffering is completely unnoticeable.)

      Laukei
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mythz (857024)

      So why should i use this instead of lastfm which features no adverts per half hour of music

      Because it's the fastest music player with the smallest footprint available that lets you listen to *any song* you want.
      You can search and play a song in milliseconds.

      There is no equal, period.

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

        A place I go to uses a mixture of last.fm and Spotify to provide their piped music.. this isn't unusual any more - I've been in several pubs and been surprised to hear the spotify premium advert suddenly play...

        This is the future - buying music is going the way of the dodo.

  • Already persuing a streaming service right after making a big announcement that we'll be able to listen to last.fm from our Xbox 360s?

    This is like all their music stores/PlaysForSure that have come before, where they announce one thing, and then drop it because some exec in another department wants to do a similiar project.

  • I know the story's only a rehashed press release, but this service seems to do precisely nothing that Spotify doesn't. So what would I want with it?

  • My prediction... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DavidR1991 (1047748) on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @07:34AM (#28701733) Homepage

    ...is that will use Silverlight. My initial reaction to this was "My God, it will suck: it won't be cross platform". Then it occurred to me - Silverlight is cross-platform. So not only would this allow MS to target a larger market, it would get SL on to a huge amount of machines. Oh, and it could be an additional 'pull' factor for Windows: You get free streaming, but you can only download (onto a device) if you have a Zune. And you can only use the Zune if you have Windows... or some such strategy like that

    Obviously this is only my personal prediction, but I'm personally expecting this to be an offline app with embedded Silverlight stuff. Either that, or a .NET app (but I'm uncertain on that - what's the status of Mono with OS X?)

    • by Pop69 (700500)
      Yes, but you have to remember that Microsofts current idea of cross platform is that it runs on XP and Vista !
  • by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon&gamerslastwill,com> on Wednesday July 15, 2009 @08:38AM (#28702121) Homepage Journal

    Because someone at Microsoft feels the need to answer every existing web service with one of their own, they will ultimately fail.

    This strategy is ludicrous and speaks volumes about the corporate mentality at the software giant. This "we must have our hand on the top of every arena" mentality will be their downfall. They are spreading too thin and have lost sight of their purpose. When you try to compete with everyone, you compete with no one.

  • I hope they become successful with this project, but not in the "Let's-create-PlaysForSure-just-to-lure-them-in" kind of way.

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