TVs and cars are the future of music streaming, says Sony

TVs and cars are the future of music streaming, says Sony
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Having taken care of games consoles, smartphone and tablets, Sony reckons that televisions and cars are the next bastion of music streaming.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion TechRadar attended about the future of the digital music sphere, Tim Shaaf, president of Sony Network Entertainment, cited research that suggests 161 million people will be subscribed to a digital music service by 2016.

And alongside hardware bundles and ad-funded enticements, it's televisions and cars that will boost that figure over the next five years.

"It's clear from all our research that people are listening to music at home and in their living rooms, which is why we started this service in the living room," he said, alluding to Sony's Music Unlimited service which is available over the PlayStation Network.

"But getting people used to streaming music through their televisions is the hardest leap to make – we've had so many decades of training about how it works and how it fits into your lifestyle."

Doin' swell

And what of the automobiles? "We're extremely excited about this because customers make choices about which cars to buy based on entertainment. It's a huge opportunity," said Schaaf.

"But it's going to take time as you have to solve complicated connectivity issues, ensure driver safety… but it's coming."

Omnifone, the company that powers Sony's Music Unlimited service (as well as providing streaming for BBM Music, HP and Sony Ericsson), agrees that music streaming is about to hit the road:

"Cars and the next really big movement for digital music subscriptions," said CEO Jeff Hughes. "There's a growing acceptance that you have to pay for music – it's a real parallel with the pay TV market – at first there was reluctance but people got used to the idea of paying for extra television channels."

Gaga for gaming

But Universal is looking to social gaming to publicise its digital music offerings, so look out for more Gagaville-style gaming crossovers.

"Zynga has a huge audience and has really cracked the freemium model," said Oliver Barnes, the director of global digital media business at Universal Music Group.

"What it's done is built a really effective pool of users willing to pay for virtual goods online. We're working with a lot of social media gaming companies because they know how to monetise online."

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.