Sony Targets iTunes, Plans to Stream Six Million Songs Online

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Sony has launched the cloud-based digital music streaming service Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity in the U.S. with six million songs at the ready. The new sevice, which shares more with all-you-can-eat sonic buffets like Napster, Rhapsody and Rdio than pay-by-track solutions such as iTunes or Amazon.com’s MP3 store, also puts greater focus on living rooms than mobile devices.

The service, which is compatible with Bravia TVs, Blu-ray disc players, PlayStation 3 video game systems and other connected Sony electronics, carries new and classic songs by Universal, Warner, Sony, EMI Music and top independent labels. Support for Mac and PC computers is also available, with plans this year to expand the service to Android smartphones, like the Xperia Play, via a downloadable app. A version is also planned for PlayStation Portable (PSP), with editions for mobile handsets such as the iPhone a future possibility as well. Users can synchronize existing personal music libraries across multiple devices via their account.

Two subscription plans are being offered, as well as a free 30-day trial option. Priced at $3.99 a month, a Basic subscription offers ad-free play and personalized music channels grouped by genre. Savvy shoppers will note that it’s $1 more expensive than Pandora, and, unlike said alternative, doesn’t offer a free, ad-supported option. A premium subscription, which costs $9.99, allows users to choose from the entire song catalogue, create personal playlists and enjoy multiple ways to browse music (though access to the collection ends when you terminate service). But unlike rivals Napster and Rhapsody, support is mostly limited to Sony devices, and you can’t immediately access it from your cellie.

"There’s not been much innovation in the living room, yet that's where more than 70% of consumers say they listen to music,” said Thomas Hesse, President of Global Digital Business at Sony Music Entertainment.