It was probably only a matter of time, but it now looks like the first of many streaming music price wars has truly broken out. In a reaction to Amazon entering the streaming market with its Music Unlimited service, Google has extended the free trial period for its Play Music service to 4 months, making a new subscription average of about $6.66 over the course of the first year.
In response, Spotify reintroduced its offer of just $0.99 for the first 3 months of premium streaming access. This deal was previously offered during the summer and resulted in about 2 million new subscribers per month. The problem, of course, is keeping the paid users after they subscribe, and as noted in previous posts, as many as 25% of streaming subscribers jump from free plan to free plan when their trial period is up. In order to counter that, Spotify has also introduced a $9.99 for 3 month play to lapsed users in order to entice them to reapply.
Apple Music is the only service that hasn’t deviated from its normal plan of a free 3 month trial period before the user is charged $9.99 per month.
This pricing war started last month when Amazon introduced it’s service at $7.99 to Prime members, and $3.99 if locked to one of its Echo devices. The catch, of course, is that you need a $99 per year Prime subscription, so it was really more expensive than the other services, but the perception by the public was that it was cheaper on a per month basis.
The trial period is the only bit of leeway that the streaming service actually have to play with, since the monthly price of $9.99 is locked in by their agreements with the major record labels. Despite many in the industry calling for a decrease in the monthly price in order to attract more paying subscribers, the labels have refused to budge. We’ll see if the current round of deals is enough to boost the subscription rate to the anticipated level, or just leads to more price wars down the road.