In the new issue of Mobile Choice, we take a look at the biggest music streaming services available right now. That means companies like Spotify, Rdio, Bloom.fm and Napster.
Were we writing the article today, however, we would have to include iTunes Radio, Apple's new streaming audio service.
Many commentators are describing Apple's arrival in the market as 'a game changer', and it's certain that their huge market share means there are significant opportunities for Apple, but is it too little too late?
Oleg Fomenko, CEO and co-founder of Bloom.fm says: "We all love Apple; their devices are amazing and they have changed the way we all think about and interact with the digital world. What they have achieved through creating a vibrant and successful music download market through iTunes is also to be hugely admired. However, is iTunes Radio really going to be a game-changer?
"Streaming radio is not a new concept and, as expected, it’s an ad-funded model. Apple’s vast user-base will undoubtedly guarantee healthy traffic and as such the service will be an attractive proposition for advertisers, but will this create significant and sustainable revenue for rights holders and artists? We’ve heard talk of the major labels securing attractive deals and healthy revenue shares from Apple but the stand-alone viability of an ad-funded model still remains to be proven.
"Everyone agrees that the £1 per download model is in-decline and that £10 per month streaming subscriptions have failed to gain mass-market traction. Streaming radio, expensive on-demand subscriptions and paid for downloads do not reflect how people consume music today. They want total control over what they listen to at an affordable price."
He continues: "Apple has avoided the potential cannibalization of its iTunes sales with this new offering. iTunes Radio might well be a useful tool to maintain iTunes download volumes but there is nothing new for consumers here. This is all about selling more downloads and more devices, which is perfectly fine but let’s not kid ourselves that it will change consumer habits or the fortunes of the industry.
"On a positive note Apple’s marketing muscle will raise the visibility of streaming radio and although it is not introducing anything new, we welcome the role it will play in education. It looks like the true innovation in digital music will have to continue coming from young companies that don’t have a legacy business to protect."
Obviously, Oleg Fomenko has his own interests to protect, but he is on to something. Apple has joined a busy marketplace with a product that does not offer anything particularly new or groundbreaking. The ability to think of an artist or particular song and pluck it from the cloud is not there, and that seems to be what most people want today - how else to explain the bizarre number of people who use YouTube as their music service of choice.
The Cupertino company's misfires are few and far between, but they do exist, and iTunes Radio could very well be one of them.