Monthly Archives: February 2013

Subscription streaming service from Google

Google is apparently going into the subscription on-demand music space of Deezer, Spotify, Rhapsody, MOG/Beats, RDIO, Sony Music Unlimited, Yahoo Music Unlimited, etc.

I am sorry to hear it.

YouTube is a sensible business model for music on the internet. It scales globally. It improves incrementally. It tolerates catalog gaps yet blows past the catalog of other streaming vendors.

YouTube makes a lot of ugly mistakes when it comes to the content ID system. But these mistakes are gradually being fixed.

YouTube is elegant and disruptive.

A subscription music service will be in competition with music on YouTube. Google will have to spend a lot on licenses and will need to protect the investment. It’s hard to imagine that music support on YouTube won’t suffer.

I miss the days when Google didn’t need to compete everywhere. The Play store competes with the iTunes store and with Amazon’s digital products. The Chromebook competes with Macbook Air. Android with iOS, Nexus with iPhone, Samsung, HTC, etc. Android and Chrome OS compete with Windows. Google Docs competes with Microsoft Office. Google+ competes with Facebook and Twitter.

Building a subscription service of its own fractures the market further, making it that much less likely that any company will survive. Google could have partnered with existing subscription companies. Or it could have built an API to allow third parties to integrate music services. That would have been the internet-y thing to do. Interoperation is a good thing.

And a Google Music subscription service doesn’t have great prospects, needless to say. I hope that it makes a reasonable profit if only to justify the tradeoffs.