Sony Launches New Streaming Music Service

Sony Launches New Streaming Music Service
Sony is making some serious moves into the digital market place courtesy of a new music-streaming service. Though Apple's iTunes has long dominated the digital music realm, at least in regards to legal downloads, Sony hopes to break its competitor's toehold on consumers via "Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity," a cloud computing program that switches the focuses on a network of streamed material, as opposed to downloads.

CBC reports that the service, which debuted today (December 22) in the UK and Ireland, offers subscribers over six million songs that can be streamed to many of Sony's inter-connected products, from computers to the PlayStation 3 to Bravia TVs. You can apparently also synch up your iTunes to the network. The music library also includes songs from all four major labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and EMI Music.

In the UK, Music Unlimited currently features two subscription options: a basic plan that costs four pounds (about $6 Canadian) a month and a premium that costs 10 pounds (about $15) a month.

Sony has shifted its focus from downloading individual songs to streaming millions of songs off of a massive network to stick out from the pack. Kazuo Hirai, executive vice-president and head of the company's networked products and services division, explains that its business model needed to be different than iTunes' in order to make an impact on consumers.

"We realized that if we were playing catch-up with the same [iTunes] model, it would be difficult to appeal to users," Hirai said in a press conference.

As of now Music Unlimited cannot be used on portable devices such as Walkmans or cellphones, but Sony plans to add service to those items eventually. The subscription service will premiere in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and New Zealand and the U.S. sometime next year.