Posted by Mark Mulligan on October 12, 2009
Finally we get to see some fruits of the labour of the protracted negotiations between the
- a scale of marketing clout and expertise that other music subscription services could only dream of
- proven and deep understanding of packaging and marketing entertainment products
- a large installed base of premium customers to target
At launch the service is to be marketed to all
- bundling this offer with Sky TV packages
- integration with Sky’s hardware
Sky does though, leave these as distinct possibilities on the road map, which is very wise as they could prove to be the secret sauce that could make Sky Songs a success.
Sky also do one other very smart thing that will stand them in good stead: they enable customers to ‘dip in an out’ rather than locking them in to a year’s commitment. This is added to competitive pricing:
- pay £6.49 and download either a £6.49 album or 10 songs, and receive unlimited access to listen to over four million songs online for one month; or
- pay £7.99 and download either a £7.99 album or 15 songs, and receive unlimited access to listen to over four million songs online for one month.
I can’t emphasize enough how important the ‘dipping in and out’ should prove for Sky Songs.
All of which is why Sky’s decision to allow customers to effectively use the service as a good value a la carte album purchase with free streaming is so smart. But I hope they’re similarly smart to market it that way as they educate the customer base. Sky almost single handedly educated the
Music subscriptions looked like a dead man walking in 2008, but over the last couple of years the space has had new life breathed into it with a series of next generation iterations, including:
- Nokia’s Comes With Music
- Spotify Premium
- Virgin Media’s Unlimited MP3 service
- Datz Music Lounge
- Music Station
- Sky Songs
All of these differ markedly from each other, and that is exactly the point. The days of the 9.99 rental streams as the future of subscriptions are gone. The mantra of one size does not fit all applies keenly to the music subscription space.
This isn’t to say Sky Songs will be an instant run away success – it will probably spend a while fine tuning its proposition and positioning – but once it starts leveraging all of its assets it stand as good a chance as anyone of making the model work. Perhaps most importantly, it heralds a crucial shift in the role of ISPs from fat pipes for illegal downloading to conduits for premium revenue. The outflow of industry value down the ISPs pipes might finally be changing course to a partial inflow of value.
Forrester has recently published a report on ISP music services. Clients can read it here.