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Sony Tries to Steal iTunes and Pandora Internet Music Action

Posted: 02/18/11 04:24 PM ET

Move over, Pandora, iTunes, and Rhapsody. There's a new subscription-based on-demand music service in town: Music Unlimited Powered by Qriocity. Sony launched the service recently in the U.S.

Qriocity -- why can't we just spell it correctly? -- offers six million songs on-demand through a cloud-based network accessed by 60 million Sony PlayStation gamers who play their games online. Instead of downloading songs like you would on iTunes, Qriocity will let you stream any song you want whenever you want for a monthly subscription charge of $9.99. (Kind of like other start-ups Rhapsody, Rdio, and MOG.) For $3.99 a month, subscribers can access a radio-like service which lets them select the music genre or artist (just like Pandora).

Sony means business. Being such a big company, it's no wonder the new service will feature music from all the major labels including Sony Music Entertainment (duh), Universal Music, Warner Music Group, and EMI Group. It debuted in the UK in December, and is also available in Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Canada.

It's not exactly bad news for us as consumers to have another option. And if you think about it, Qriocity might actually trump iTunes by allowing so much flexibility for a low cost. After all, $10 will barely get you an entire album on iTunes these days. But as far as competing with Pandora, the price point is pretty much on par -- to enjoy Pandora without advertisements every three songs, it costs $36/year or $3/month.

Here's the catch ...

Qriocity isn't really for people who want to enjoy their tunes on the go. It seems to be geared more toward the music aficionado who likes to stream Louis Armstrong while cooking in their kitchen or Lady Gaga while working out in their basement. In other words, it's a home-based service.

According to Reuters, "Qriocity's focus is living rooms as Sony attempts to build on its core strength in consumer electronic devices like Bravia TV sets, Blu-ray Disc players, and PlayStation 3 game consoles."

Boring! If that's really the whole game plan for now, I'm not really sure it's going to take. People want to pay one subscription fee (if they have to at all) for a service they can access everywhere. At home, sure, but also on our iPhones or our Droids, our iPads or our HP tablets, on our office iMacs and on the train using our Dell laptops. Even in our cars. We want it all, and we can get it all with other services.

But, they're not clueless. Sony Prez Tim Schaaf said that mobile Qriocity is on its way. Even so, there are so many digital options for music lovers now, I say Sony's gonna have their work cut out for them.

Would you be interested in Qriocity? What digital music service(s) do you currently use?

Written by Maressa Brown for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.
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