milkmusic

Samsung has revealed that advertisements and premium subscriptions will be coming to its Milk Music streaming service, taking away one of the only things that distinguished it from the pack of other music apps.

There was little that makes Milk Music unique: It’s exclusivity to Samsung devices, the fact that users don’t have to create an account, and its unclear monetization strategy. Otherwise it was similar to the many other music streaming services available.

Now it seems that Milk Music really is little more than a Samsung-exclusive ripoff of Pandora. Besides its willingness to let people listen to music without offering their email addresses, the truth is that Milk Music is just another Internet radio service in a world filled with copycats.

The service doesn’t even offer its own music catalog: the Samsung blog post announcing the coming advertisements and premium accounts displays a prominent “Powered by Slacker” logo at the very bottom. (It also says that there are three things people should know about Milk Music before offering far more than three things in its body text and the humongous infographic.)

Congratulations, Samsung. You just announced a Pandora clone almost two decades after the original was founded, and almost one decade after streaming music services like Spotify were created. Looks like it’s time to rock out to your “Day Late and a Dollar Short” playlist.

Reactions from around the Web

The Next Web notes that Samsung is basically just re-skinning Slacker’s service and business:

Samsung’s planned pricing falls in line with that of Slacker, the music service that Samsung partnered with to launch Milk Music. Slacker offers a $3.99 monthly subscription — which allows unlimited skipping, no ads, offline playback and some exclusive stations — while a $9.99 top-tier allows songs/albums on demand, custom playlists and more.

Samsung may well borrow from the Slacker playbook when it comes to adding those “exclusive features” for paying users.

Gizmodo skewers Samsung for advertising Milk Music as a free and ad-free service:

You can go through and read the whole release. It tells you about all the wonderful advantages about using Milk Music, but it doesn’t say it’s going to cost you anything ever. It’s not n the Milk Music website either. The only place I’ve been able to find a mention of the limited nature of Milk Music’s “free and ad-free” is in the fine print of the Google Play app description. And really, who reads those?

This is annoying. There’s nothing wrong with charging for a service. Pulling a bait and switch on your customers makes them feel stupid. Samsung can do whatever it wants. Too bad it sucks for you.

Engadget encourages Milk Music users to “cherish” the existing app before it changes:

You know what they say about all good things in life. Samsung has been offering an ad-free version of its Milk Music service for no charge since launch, but the company has posted a new infographic revealing that Americans will soon have to pay $4 per month for a Premium tier to escape marketers. You’ll also get some “exclusive features” as a bonus, although it’s not clear just what they’ll entail. We’ve reached out to learn more about both the paid service launch and what those perks will be. For now, you’ll want to cherish the current listening experience — it may not be around for much longer.

Pando weighs in

I pointed out that Milk Music was entering — and preparing to lose in — a crowded market:

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.

[Photo by Linda Tanner]