Samsung today announced that its Milk Music service, which allows users to stream music for free, has debuted on its Galaxy smartphone line. The service is ad-free and provides access to some 200 radio stations through a partnership with streaming music mainstay Slacker Radio.
Milk Music enters a saturated market. It’s competing with free radio services like Pandora and iHeartRadio; on-demand music services like Spotify and Beats Music; and, perhaps most obviously, the iTunes Radio service Apple launched in 2013.
It’s also unclear why consumers would choose Milk Music over any of its competitors. The service is restricted to Samsung’s smartphones; it doesn’t offer anything that its competitors don’t; and a number of services offer free radio services and on-demand streaming for a monthly fee.
Milk Music’s greatest advantage is its ability to operate even if its users don’t register for its service. They don’t have to enter their email address, share credit card information, or even offer their name — all they have to do is start listening to one of its many stations. Samsung is betting that consumer laziness will trump having access to more songs, the ability to stream music on a variety of platforms, and the opportunity to listen to whatever song they like.
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Billboard explains Milk Music’s mission and the reason for its name:
Samsung’s mission with Milk was two-fold, says Ryan Bidan, Samsung Mobile’s director of product marketing. ‘We heard from consumers that there were too many ads and interruptions on free services, and that set-up could be a pain with log-ins and navigating spreadsheets,’ he says. Plus, ‘we wanted it to be identified as something completely different. We didn’t want it to be super corporate or Samsung-y because it’s not meant to be. We wanted a name that spoke to how we felt about music inside the application, the idea of being fuzzy and nice — you know, like mother’s milk.’
PCWorld highlights the limits of Milk Music’s search function, though it redeems itself later:
In a test of the service, the search feature was not able to find the song “Ghost Tonight” by Brooklyn-based Chairlift, but the service created a station and started playing songs from the band. It also successfully found a selection of songs from Thievery Corporation.
CNET notes that this isn’t Samsung’s first attempt to create a hit music service:
Milk is a clear followup to iTunes Radio, which launched in September after years of speculation about an Apple radio product. Milk also is a new incarnation of Music Hub, the Samsung app that functioned as its own player and store that Samsung just shut down, an example of the company’s checkered past with services.
Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the US Internet radio industry is expected to grow:
In the U.S., digital radio ad spending increased 26.3 percent last year to $1.65 billion, according to EMarketer Inc. research. The category will grow to $2.04 billion this year, it projects.
[Image via Samsung]