Sony’s Spotify-powered music-streaming service lands on PlayStation today, no …

30 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

PlayStation Replaces Music Service With Spotify.

NEW YORK — Spotify is coming to the PlayStation, replacing Sony’s own Music Unlimited service, as the company continues to expand the game console into an entertainment hub beyond video games. There probably isn’t a gamer out there who hasn’t, at one point or another, played their music while gaming – albeit from a separate laptop or speaker set-up.

If you’re a PlayStation owner who is also a Spotify addict, then there’s good news for you today — Sony and the music streaming service have teamed up to let you listen to your tunes while you game. If you happen to be a PlayStation 3 or 4 owner, that is about to change quite dramatically as PlayStation Music launches today, with Spotify at its core. It must have been a bittersweet moment for Sony, which—historically, at least—has liked to play up the fact that it’s both a hardware company and a producer and distributor of entertainment as a strategic advantage. It’s a replacement for Music Unlimited, the Sony-branded streaming music service that launched in 2010, but has now been axed by the company in favour of a partnership with Spotify. Sony says partnering with Spotify expands its music service to 41 countries, rather than the 19 available with Music Unlimited, and offers better tools for playlists and music discovery.

Spotify’s music app is available on some Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes, but Spotify says it worked closely with Sony to optimize its service for the PlayStation. Tracks can be switched using the iOS or Android app, which means PS4 and PS3 customers in 41 countries worldwide can switch the in-game soundtrack to their favorite tunes without interrupting their gaming.

It will be available as a free, advertising-supported service or a premium subscription, with people able to sign up from their consoles, including a 30-day trial of the premium tier. “It’s a third-party service given first-party priority on the platform,” Murray Pannell, PlayStation marketing director for the UK and Ireland, told the Guardian during a demonstration of the new app ahead of its launch. Spotify has been available on a multitude of devices for years, including mobiles, tablets, and smart TVs, but it has hitherto been absent on games consoles. Sony and Spotify recently gave me a preview of PlayStation Music, which is going live today, and it does indeed look like it might be a really good version of Spotify. Just two weeks ago, Sony launched an online television service, PlayStation Vue, offering more than 50 over-the-air and cable channels starting at $50 a month.

Most games are the result of massive production efforts, a key component of which is the soundtrack which is often developed to add to the experience and immerse you inside the game. The former focuses on curated playlists sorted by genre, mood and activity, while the latter is users’ own playlists. “We’ve optimised the experience for the big screen.

Spotify on PlayStation Music isn’t just a direct port from its existing tablet or TV apps, however, and the two companies have been working together closely to create something more tailored for a games consoles. All the usual Spotify features are now on PlayStation too, with the ability to search and create playlists as well as listen to those already put together by the service. We’ve been looking at how to make Spotify available on smart TVs and other non-mobile devices, and for us this is the pinnacle experience in terms of big screens,” said Spotify’s head of global product marketing, Tim Grimsditch. “We’ve learned over the years to try to really simplify for a big-screen leaning back experience.

It’s all controllable in-game too, with a menu that enables users to tweak the volume of music and game – setting a volume balance between the two that you’re happy with between game dialogue and those Mumford & Sons lyrics. A little counter-productive and excessive — and I say that as a paying Spotify customer. “Music has always been a big part of gaming,” he said in a statement. “I remember playing computer games like Quake and Counter-Strike with my favorite tunes on in the background — taking the experience to a whole new level.

Also, you can control the music using Spotify Connect, meaning your phone or tablet are essentially controllers while your gaming continues in the foreground. With today’s launch, we’re bringing back that magic of gaming with music — all in a beautifully designed and smooth experience that looks great on the big screen.” This partnership with Sony is another example of Spotify’s desire to go beyond catering to your music needs on mobile and desktop and instead be ‘the soundtrack to your life’.

This effectively means you don’t have to pause the game and switch apps — you simply touch a button on your mobile to skip a track or turn the music down. We wanted to make sure we made Spotify work hard for gamers,” said Grimsditch, who suggested that games developers and publishers may wish to create Spotify playlists to accompany their games – potentially as an alternative to the official soundtracks. Although free users aren’t allowed to choose specific songs on mobile devices, they will be able to on the PlayStation, just as they now do on traditional computers. Spotify usually restricts its free-tier to mobile, tablet, and PC-users, with users on Samsung smart TVs or Roku, for example, requiring a paid subcription. This is hooked into PlayStation Music, enabling someone else in the room – if you have a friend with you for example – to control what’s playing by adding to the queue and changing playlists remotely.

For now, neither company has anything to announce for Sony’s PlayStation Vita handheld either, although it would be surprising if PlayStation Music does not make its way to that device in the coming months too. Sony Music Unlimited didn’t have a free tier, but with Spotify now in tow, gamers who are willing to tolerate adverts while playing Grand Theft Auto V can get in on the music action too.

Music Unlimited subscribers won’t be automatically switched over; those that subscribe on other devices such as Sony phones, will need to get the Spotify app. It’s unusual for a streaming service to be tailored to the box it’s running on—Netflix, for instance, is pretty much Netflix almost everywhere—but this is a Spotify that feels both comfortably Spotify-esque and like it’s been customized for PlayStation. Run by British digital music firm Omnifone, it had more than one million active users by January 2012, but never updated that figure, which suggests it did not catch on with PlayStation owners. The full 41 launch markets are as follows: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, U.K., and U.S.

Spotify too wants to stay ahead of the game as the number of streaming services and music listening options continues to grow – Apple has been said to be working on theirs behind the scenes ahead of a big debut this summer. Microsoft has been similarly quiet about the growth of its own-brand Xbox Music service, which raises questions about why streaming music on consoles has not been a success in the past, and whether Sony’s Spotify deal can change that. “It’s a bit harsh to say it hasn’t been a success: that’s debatable,” said Pannell. “We think that aligning the gaming and music platforms together is a great opportunity.

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