Today’s music industry is totally different than the music industry of ten years ago or even five years ago. Music has become a service based business that users pay for monthly rather than buying indicial songs like they used to do back when the original iPod debuted in October of 2001. Yes, you still have the music fans who will be buying one song here or there and mostly just listen to whatever is on the radio but those people aside the music industry changed over the years.
I would like to point out first that in 2004 Microsoft launched MSN Music a competitor or iTunes and in 2006 launch the Zune. Zune had a repackaged version of MSN Music called Zune Music which at the time was subscription based. Microsoft had the first subscription-based music service but never took off due to poor adoption numbers against iPod and iTunes. Zune music would be renamed to Microsoft Groove and offered as part of Xbox later down the line. Despite being the first subscription-based music service it never took off and still has a small userbase if any due to Microsoft loss in the mobile market and home speaker market.
In July of 2011 Spotify debuted in the USA after enjoying years of success since 2008 in Europe. Spotify changed the industry from Apples buy one song for 99 cents to paying $9.99 month for an unlimited amount of songs. Google was at that point playing around with users uploading their music libraries to Google Music Beta there was no music store offered at the time. Google would take Music out of beta and officially launch Google Music in November of 2011. Google felt that by allowing users to store there already preowned libraries in the cloud it gave them a competitive advantage.
Beats headphones launched Beats a music subscription service in January of 2014 and in May of 2014 Apple purchased Beats for 3 billion dollars. Apple would go on to rebrand Beats music and launch Apple Music with built in functionality into the iPhone in June of 2015.
Amazon launched Amazon Music Unlimited in October of 2016 a companion music service to their popular Amazon Echo speaker with a completive edge offering a two-dollar cheaper price to prime members. The $7.99 price point for prime members makes Amazon cheaper to prime members then any competitor regular non-prime members pay $9.99 like all other services.
I think music as a service is a cheaper and a much-needed change in the music industry. I would like to point out that Microsoft being first with their service did not make them the winner at the end. Spotify being first helped make them a clear competitor but when Apple debuted their service they got over 27 million users as of their recent keynote. Some of those users were Spotify users that jumped ship to Apple and some of those users were new to music as a service as well. Apple is trying to move users even more towards Apple music with their new HomePod they debuted. Amazon has a huge advantage with their enormous success of the Echo speaker and Google with the Google Home. Microsoft has yet to put out a speaker for the consumer market.
I think that as smart speakers continue to grow so will the popularity of music as a service. Most of the services offer the same music and the same services it just a matter of which one is better for you as the consumer.