Flexible pricing has long been a contentious issue in the streaming business, now it seems that Universal and Sony Music are taking the matter into their hands and are quietly rolling out their own low-priced subscription service.
NOW Music+, a streaming app that offers customers access to an advert-free playlist of chart hits and compilation albums from the Now That's What I Call Music series -- jointly owned by Universal Music and Sony Music Entertainment -- silently launched in the U.K. earlier this year.
Subscriptions cost £4.99 ($6.50) per month if users sign up through the NOW Music+ website and £5.99 ($7.90) if they join via the App store (thanks to Apple's 30 percent "tax" on subscriptions). At present, the under-the-radar streaming service is only available in the U.K., although Reuters reports that preparations are underway for a broader roll-out.
The service promises subscribers access to "the latest charts hits," which are updated weekly, alongside an extensive catalog of Now compilation and theme albums stretching back to Now 1980, featuring Queen, ABBA and Blondie.
At press time, its home screen top 40 chart was topped by Chainsmokers' "Closer," with Major Lazer's "Cold Water (feat. Justin Bieber and MO), Shawn Mendes' "Treat You Better" and Calvin Harris' "This Is What You Came For" also in the top ten.
As per other streaming services, users can create their own playlists and download songs to access off-line (limited to 100 songs per device), although there is no search function or catalog that doesn't feature on a Now album. The size of the streaming service's catalog is not known, nor the size of its subscription base. Universal and Sony Music declined to comment when contacted by Billboard.
In comparison with NOWMusic+'s cut price offer, premium subscriptions to the most popular streaming services in the U.K. - Spotify, Deezer and Apple - all cost £9.99 ($13.00) per month. Amazon Prime costs £7.99 ($10.50) a month or £79.00 ($105.00) per annum, which is equivalent to £6.99 ($9.00) monthly.