Three months after revealing that they had 1.7m paying subscribers between them, Rhapsody and Napster have announced another milestone this morning: 2m subscribers.
The mathematicians among you will already have worked out that this means the pair have been averaging 100k new subscribers a month, fuelled by a mixture of organic growth and telco partnerships in Europe; recent expansion into Latin America; and a partnership with US telco T-Mobile in June to launch a new mid-priced personal radio service called unRadio.
That’s now launching outside the US, including a rebranded version – Napster Découverte – for French telco SFR, which will cost €3.95 a month for a mixture of traditional radio streams, Pandora-style personal radio and the ability to store 30 tracks for offline, on-demand listening.
“It’s a very interesting product for people who are not 100% convinced that streaming is something they would like to pay for. It’s something I feel could move the needle again a little bit,” Napster’s Thorsten Schliesche told The Guardian, adding that in Europe, mobile devices now generate around 60% of Napster’s listening.
“With these numbers and the growth, we have finally established ourselves among the top 2-3 streaming services globally. We see ourselves in this for the long term,” he said, suggesting that most countries have room for 4-5 streaming services to survive in that long term. He also called on labels to be more flexible in their royalty demands from streaming services.
“Yes, the customer is paying for music, but not every cent is for music. A certain amount is for convenience, recommendations, discovery, ease of use… Should the music industry admit that there is a certain value that the music services provide as well, so either the share for labels is smaller, or we can keep more margin?” he said.
“It’s funny, when you find the music industry globally shouting for respect for intellectual property, but at the same time they do not seem to value innovation on their partners’ side.”
Views that may go down as well with some labels as Schliesche’s opinion on the simmering YouTube debate. “I’m getting a little frustrated with the labels and YouTube. For a long time a lot of artists have not given their music to legal streaming services like Napster, Deezer or Spotify, saying ‘we don’t earn enough’. But the same artists have promoted their videos on YouTube,” he said.
“The labels have more or less created the power YouTube has for music promotion, without a real need. They have been very short-sighted.”