Since it was first mentioned, Beats Music has been promoted as the be-all-end-all of music curation. Using industry favorite buzzwords like “intelligent curation,” “personalization,” and “playlists,” the service is making it look like its January 21st launch will be a big deal. Although several other streaming music services exist in the industry, it’s Beats Music’s paid-only format that could finally create some much needed value for streaming music.
For streaming music services, the struggle lies in making advanced features for hardcore music fans, while marketing a free service geared toward the everyman. The problem with this format is that appealing too strongly to one side risks upsetting the other, and a delicate balance can stall advancement in either direction. Eliminating the all inclusive nature of free, easy access then, allows for the focus to be directed more intently towards something like curation an discovery.
Offering only a quick free trial, Beats Music will be exclusively premium. This move alone is a clear indication that the service isn’t meant for just the average lean back radio listener, and let’s subscribers know that the features offered are to be taken seriously. While other services offer music discovery as a secondary (and sometimes laughable) feature, promoting curation as a paid product is something that gives the program value. In doing this, Beats Music separates itself from other services, instead of fighting for a place alongside Pandora, Spotify, and iTunes Radio.
Beats Music is not something that users can use the bulk of for free, and then pay for just a few added features. Instead, it’s going to be an all-or-nothing service that people won’t just use as an afterthought. It’s all too easy to take the availability of free, unlimited music for granted, especially when the listener isn’t actively engaged in the process. Beats’ establishing a reason to pay a monthly fee could be what it takes to show the full potential of streaming music, and show if listening to new music is something people are actually interested in.