Sony is closing its Music Unlimited streaming music service, in favour of an partnership with Spotify that will span its consoles, smartphones and tablets.
Spotify will be the exclusive partner for a new service called PlayStation Music, which will launch in the spring in 41 countries. Music Unlimited, which is currently available in 19 countries, will close on 29 March.
Sony customers paying for Spotify through PlayStation Music will be able to access the streaming service across their various devices, browsing its catalogue of 30m songs, creating and listening to playlists, and streaming music while playing games.
“As a gamer and PlayStation 4 user myself, I’m super excited to be able to soundtrack my FIFA 15 Arsenal matches later this spring,” said Spotify’s chief executive Daniel Ek, as the partnership was announced.
The deal is a vote of no-confidence in Music Unlimited, which originally launched in 2010, and had one million active users by the start of 2012. Although it was bundled in to every PlayStation console, Sony has not since updated that figure, which suggests that take-up was disappointing.
Now Spotify will have the task of persuading a greater number of the 64 million active users of Sony’s PlayStation Network to start paying a monthly subscription for streaming music, which they’ll be able to do through their existing PSN wallets.
The companies are not announcing how much a Spotify subscription through PlayStation Music will cost or whether Sony will be subsidising part of the £9.99 monthly price.
It is also unclear if every Sony device will get the free, advertising-supported version of Spotify, or whether the deal will merely offer a limited free trial of Spotify’s premium service before prompting people to start paying or stop using it.
If the former, the partnership could be very significant for Spotify, which currently has 60 million active users, with 15 million of them paying for its service. The company is gearing up for intensifying competition in 2015 from Apple – which is planning to relaunch its Beats Music streaming service – and from Google’s YouTube Music Key.
“This partnership represents the best in music and the best in gaming coming together, which will benefit the vibrant and passionate communities of both Spotify and PlayStation Network,” said Sony Computer Entertainment boss Andrew House.
The list of 41 launch countries for PlayStation Music does not include Sony’s native Japan, where Music Unlimited became one of the first big streaming music services to launch in July 2012.
Spotify and its rivals have been eyeing Japan for some time, but have found the process of striking licensing deals with local music labels has taken much longer than they had thought.
The Sony deal could offer Spotify a faster route in to Japan, the world’s second most lucrative market for music sales behind the US, but Sony said today that “the PS Music service in Japan is not yet determined” and that “further details will be announced when ready”.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010