Streaming Services: How Much Is Too Little?

With Spotify's recently announced family plan that effectively makes family members accounts come in at $5/month, and Apple's rumored $5/month target for its Beats music streaming service, I wonder how much is too little when it comes to the monthly cost of streaming.

Lossless streaming services including Qobuz, WiMP/Tidal, and Deezer (currently available through Sonos) cost a projected $30/month, $20/month, and $14.99/month respectively. While I was excited about the Qobuz service (see article), I can get even more excited about Tidal's service for $20/month and access to their claimed 25 million lossless track library. As streaming prices plummet, you do have to wonder how artists will be compensated for their art and how these streaming companies will remain in the black. With Qobuz's recent filing for the French equivalent of Chapter 11, the business of streaming does not always paint a rosy picture.

Is $20/month for lossless streaming the sweet spot in the market?

Reed's picture

There is a field where you enter your email address. Evidently they want to you to invite others. I got an email stating the people I invite the sooner I could get access....what? Here is the text from the email:


Thank you for registering your interest in TIDAL, the upcoming High Fidelity music streaming experience.

You will be among the first to get access to the service this fall - we will get back to you very soon.

You can get even earlier access to TIDAL by inviting 3 or more friends. The more friends you invite, the sooner you'll be invited into TIDAL.

jazz and cocktails's picture

Consumers should be willing to pay $20, or $30/month for lossless or hires service- we pay many times that amount for basic cable, and i spend much more time listening to music than watching TV. (in addition to Napster) i wonder if the perception that most streaming services today offer a lower quality experience (in terms of lossy compression) has contributed to the unwillingness to pay more than $10/month?

junker's picture

Look to Netflix pricing to gauge what the market is willing to spend on a monthly media streaming service as the upper-bound.

marcusavalon's picture

I have been saying this for some time but its coming fast.
The days of 'ownership' of music are fast coming to an end soon the only option we will have is to stream music from providers for a fee. That's Ok I guess its going to be at least CD quality or perhaps better if your willing to pay and have a fast enough connection. The winner will be the provider with the largest library of content as if your going to pay a subscription you will want the most bang for your buck. Yes there will be some specialist audiophile streaming providers but they will be the exception and expensive and you will need the bandwidth to receive them. Its a going to be great for choice I already use Spotify although I own a 900+ CD collection but it small compared to the choice available on the streaming service. Get used to it its coming fast.

stodgers's picture

I had Zune streaming for 5-6 years, which included a monthly album download. After those years, I stopped and said to myself that streaming was depriving me of an essential part of the experience: the exact feeling of ownership you say is ending.

Vinyl is bigger than it has been in 20+ years (and growing), and digital downloads are being converted to physical products like Joe Satriani's Chrome Dome. People still want to *own* the music. The problem with digital music *was* the threat of losing your library to a crash. Now with so many back-up options, people are getting comfortable with paying a good price for good music.

I think the market is turning a corner (though it will never be what it was in the 90s), but the labels are the final obstacle. More artists are getting their music out directly to consumers in hi-res formats without the intermediary. I disagree that the end is nigh!!!

stevebythebay's picture

My guess is that to be somewhat successful in the quality streaming arena you need to get a slice of the market for hirez that provides a true qualitative benefit along with less mainstream content. Also, really good curating of "channels" or however you describe category slicing/dicing is important for many. A strong feedback loop from listeners to programmers is the way to ensure sustainability for these services.

miguelito's picture

Will they ever?

bobflood's picture

All I can say is:

"The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind....."