US satellite radio firm SiriusXM had been promising a big reveal on 8 November for its next-generation service. The details were duly unveiled yesterday of what’s being described as ‘the new SiriusXM streaming app’.
It will launch on 14 December in North America, with its centrepiece being a $9.99-a-month ‘Streaming All Access Plan’ that will combine music, talk and podcasts, and sports. The new app has redesigned discovery, playback and search features.
CEO Jennifer Witz described the launch as “a pivotal moment in our history, one that kicks off a new era of innovation at our company”. Besides being a key component of the new app and subscription tier, music is the focus for a number of new guest channels and shows on SiriusXM’s network.
Kelly Clarkson Connection, Life with John Mayer, Smokey’s Soul Town (with Smokey Robinson) and Shaggy’s Boombastic Radio will all be ‘year-round’ channels on the service, while Dolly Parton’s Rockstar Radio is a limited-time channel accompanying the launch of Parton’s new rock-focused album.
SiriusXM is also setting its cap at millennial listeners with three new channels focused on music from the 2000s: The Flow (R&B), Flex2K (hip-hop) and Alt2K (alternative rock).
Two immediate thoughts about the new SiriusXM streaming plan. First, it’s bucking the current trend for streaming subscriptions to edge up from the traditional $9.99-a-month price point. Music rightsholders will surely be keen for SiriusXM to make price rises a part of its longer-term strategy.
Second, what does all this mean for SiriusXM’s existing streaming service Pandora? It’s clearly a key part of the new streaming app, but we wonder what the future holds for it as a separate brand.
As we reported earlier this month, SiriusXM’s satellite radio service ended September with 34 million subscribers, around the same as a year ago, while Pandora’s monthly active users fell from 48.8 million to 46.5 million over that period. The latter’s paying subscribers “decreased modestly” to 6.1 million.
SiriusXM acquired Pandora in early 2019, so it has had nearly five years of getting to grips with streaming, and understanding how it might best integrate with its core radio business.
The new app (and subscription) are a big bet on reinvigorating growth, and setting out SiriusXM’s long-term stall as a competitor to Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and YouTube Music.