Sony has announced a new subscription music service. They say they have 6 million songs on their servers. You can use it as a radio, picking the genre or artist you want, for $3.99 a month. Or you can get the ability to choose exactly what song you wish to hear for $9.99 a month.
But let's unpack this. Pandora is free if you don't mind putting up with ads. It's $36 a year or $3 a month for Pandora One, which has no ads. So that's a buck less than Sony. Pandora only has 800,000 songs but they've all been famously cataloged through the Music Genome Project. Fraction of the selection but perhaps better analysis of what you want to hear.
Rdio offers $5 a month to do whatever you like on the web. A mobile version costs $10.
Rhapsody gives you ten million songs at $10 a month.
So Sony isn't way off. They're in the ball park. But it's the same ball park everyone else has been playing in for years. The real reason to look dubiously at Sony's offering is that they make no compelling case to go rushing over there. And frankly, the Pandora brand, even the Rdio brand, are cooler than the Sony brand. And that matters in music.