As soon as next week, Apple will launch a new music-streaming service, directly challenging Spotify, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing music industry executives. Apple still has to finalize licensing deals with the three biggest record companies, but those negotiations are expected to be wrapped up before Apple's worldwide developers' conference next week, where the new service will likely be formally unveiled.
Unlike Spotify, Apple isn't expected to offer a free, ad-supported version of its on-demand streaming; instead, monthly subscriptions will reportedly cost $10. However, Apple will add some human DJs to its free, ad-supported radio streaming service, which competes with Pandora.
Apple is taking a risk by making a big play for on-demand streaming, both because Spotify is so entrenched, with about 85 percent market share (the same percentage of the music-download market Apple controls), but also because streaming could eat into Apple's lucrative iTunes Store business. But music-streaming is gaining steam while downloads are stagnating. (Apple will keep its recently purchased Beats Music service separate for now.)
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And "while it is late to the game," note The Journal's Ethan Smith and Daisuke Wakabayashi, "Apple can aggressively push its hundreds of millions of iTunes customers — most with credit cards already registered with the company — to embrace a subscription model on the same devices where they listen to downloaded songs and albums." Read more about Apple's new big thing at The Wall Street Journal.
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