Amazon, Pandora to shake up music streaming market

The music streaming business has become a rather aggressive one, especially after Apple joined the fray. Despite that, pricing for monthly subscription hasn't substantially changed among the very few major players in that market. By now, the $9.99 a month fee is more or less standard everywhere. Amazon and Pandora, however, might soon have something different to say. The two companies are expected to debut new subscription offerings n the coming months, even as early as next week, that will be challenging the status quo and might give their rivals pause.

Quite interestingly, both Pandora and Amazon do not fit inside your conventional music streaming service box. Pandora, for example, doesn't really let you choose which songs to play, only going by curated and personalized playlists. On the other hand, Amazon's music streaming is tied to its Prime service, which bundles videos and deliveries as well. According to sources, however, those are about to change soon.

As early as next week, Pandora might unveil a new $5 monthly subscription option, allowing users to skip more songs or even store some of their favorite ones, but only online. And later this year, Pandora is believed to be ready to jump into the normal $10 a month game itself, with a conventional on-demand music selection.

On the other hand, Amazon might offer a separate $10 subscription from its regular Prime setup, which costs $99 a year. There is also said to be a $5 option for customers who already own an Amazon Echo in their homes.

In addition to adding more cooks in the kitchen, the new subscription might also cause the music streaming industry to rethink its pricing strategies. Many analysts believe that the annual costs of such services, practically amounting to $120 per year, is just a tad too high, more than double the annual sales of labeled music. That is, of course, if Amazon's and Pandora's experiments with pricing does turn out to be effective in luring in new subscribers away from free alternatives from Spotify or even YouTube.

SOURCE: New York Times