Beats Electronics has unveiled the start date for its Beats Music service, announcing yet another entry into the popular if financially troubled category of online radio.
Starting Jan. 21, Beats Music will allow people to stream music from a library of more than 20 million tracks. The service will be free for a trial run at launch and then convert to a $9.99 monthly access fee, a price in line with that of competitor Spotify.
Santa Monica’s Beats has built a name in the music world through its popular high-end headphones. The company was co-founded by hip-hop producer Dr. Dre and former Interscope records chief Jimmy Iovine, and is using its executives’ pedigrees to stand out in the online music marketplace.
As part of Beats Music, Dre, Iovine and artists such as Trent Reznor will be contributing and curating playlists. It’s pitched as a personal connection with bigger names in music and an alternative to algorithm-driven competitors.
“Beats Music combines the emotion only a human created playlist can give you with the best personalization technology can deliver, ” Beats Music Chief Executive Ian Rodgers said in a release. “With this you get not just the music experience only a talented DJ or music expert can deliver, but also the right one for you right now.”
The number of music streaming services has grown steadily in recent years, largely on the coattails of smartphone market, but the business is far from proven. Royalty fees that must be paid to major labels for access to their large libraries has kept margins razor thin. Pandora Radio, the only public company among the group, has long been slammed for poor earnings, although its stock price has been up in recent months.