Sony: 'If people are searching for music, we messed up'

"It has been an easy way for marketing competitions - sort of like horse power. But most people have no idea whether 22 million songs are a lot or not. The fact is that 22 million is everything that is legally available to stream and it is almost everything that you can dig up.

"You tell people you have 22 million songs they will say: 'well, you don't have the Beatles'."

"But you tell people you have 22 million songs they will say: 'well, you don't have the Beatles, Led Zeppelin or AC/DC'."

There are a few music services that get it right, says Kirk. And it is those that actually have fewer albums that make the model work for them.

"Look at Pandora. Very few people criticise Pandora for not having enough music, they say it is an awesome experience," reckons Kirk.

"Its catalogue is only a million songs but it pushes it as the best million songs. From its perspective there is no value in bringing in all of this content that nobody listens to."

Silencing the critics

Whether 22 million or 1 million, there will be some that are never pleased and Kirk knows this. Just this week, Thom Yorke announced: "as musicians we need to fight the Spotify thing."

Kirk understands the issues some may have with streaming, but believes that these services have not contributed to a downfall in music sales.

"I have no problem with people criticising things and certainly every industry could do better. The music industry could do better but it is important to say that every single person that works on these music services that I know of work on them for one reason: they love music.

"Every single person that works on these music services: they love music."

"There is nobody sitting around rubbing their hands together cackling about all the money they are making - they aren't making much money. At the moment it is about as financially lucrative as running a small record shop.

"Everyone is in this business because they love music and want to foster that sense of discovery, that excitement of hearing a great record for the first time. Half the people that work in this business are musicians themselves."

As for the decline in music revenue, Kirk argues that streaming isn't taking money away: "In the US, the annual expenditure is around 35 dollars. The cheapest subscription service you can get costs 60 dollars a year. So, you are saying that music services are bad because people are paying double. How can that be?"

"If you eventually get everyone on to these services, revenues would go through the roof. They add value and give you an effortless way to discover new music."

Music Unlimited

Getting people to discover new music is key for Sony

"Streaming services add value and give you an effortless way to discover new music."

Given that music is currently dominated by iTunes with downloads and Spotify with streaming Sony has a lot of work to do to make it relevant in today's musical landscape but Kirk believes that we will see Sony become as synonymous with music once again - just like it was when the Walkman brand was in its heyday.

"I would argue that the reason Sony is in this space, and what gives it an advantage, is that music is part of Sony's history and its DNA. If a company can have an identity and a personality, I believe Sony believes music is essential and this is why it is continuing to invest in music.

"It is practically in the name. Music is a critical importance and something that matters to Sony not just in a business level but an emotional and personal level."

And how will we see this going forward? Well, it looks like the Sony PS4 may hold the key.

"Part of the plan is that with the PS4, is that just as Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited will add value to that console it will work the other way as well.

"We have worked very hard to make sure that you will be able to play music in the background of the PS4 and that is something that our users have been requesting, the number one feature, and we think that it will be a good education of how much value these types of service offer - it should do really well for us."

  • Want to know what is the best music streaming service? Find out here.
Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.