Today Sonos announced a partnership with Napster in the UK and Germany. Sonos make a multi-room streaming music steaming solution. Though the price point of a typical Sonos setup will price it out of the reach of most music listeners, the tie up with Napster is both interesting and important. The skew among Sonos customers towards high spending digitally savvy music aficionados makes them a natural fit with Napster. But ironically the link up between the two companies gives Napster a mass-market usage scenario that it has previously lacked. Getting digital music into the living room is the next big new frontier facing digital music, and digital may stand half a chance of slowing music sales declines when that hurdle is cleared with an affordable mass market offering (which of course Sonos may become one day).
For Napster getting music into the living room (almost) free of the PC is more important than portable subscriptions, which were always a clumsy solution to a problem which needed to be addressed but never played to the core strengths of subscription services.
Jupiter is currently working on a major report on Next-Generation digital music services which will address the issue of how to get digital music into the home and how that will impact overall music sales. It will also look at new ways forward for mobile music. If you work in a record label, music store / service, music device manufacturer or some other related company and would like to participate in the research for this report then please drop me a line at mmulligan AT jupiterresearch DOT COM.