Psonar is a UK music startup that will let users stream songs they don't own for a penny. There's no advertising or monthly subscription required. The company bills users directly on their phone bill, as well as, though PayPal and credit cards. This Pay Per Play streaming service is being built on top of their current locker system.
Users can also give tracks to friends – almost like a prepaid phone card, but song plays instead – and post playlists to Twitter and Facebook.
Psonar will work on desktop computers, smartphones, and mobile devices too.
In the second quarter of this year, the company plans to launch the service in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and Scandinavia.
Starting out, Psonar will only contain music from The Orchard – no majors.
CEO Martin Rigby says, "Psonar aims to answer the digital music dilemma where users are forced to choose between expensive fixed cost online streaming services or pay to own tracks which limits the amount of music consumed and encourages copying and side-loading." In other words, Rigby thinks that there's a cushy place – and price-point – to occupy right in between iTunes and MOG.
If you asked Google how users already solve this digital music dilemma, they would tell you that they have this petite company they own called YouTube.
Fans stream songs they aren't willing to pay for a dollar for or exert the energy to download from BitTorrent for free. Then you have places like Snoost and Tubeify that enable users to stream music they don't own and let Google foot the bill.
That's not to say that Psonar doesn't have a good idea, but the company sure puts a new spin on the notion that digital music services only pay labels via a river of pennies. To me, this service seems like the toll road that the major labels fawn for. Every single play of every single song will cost a penny. There will be no free rides. Except, in the hands of the majors, each stream would cost a quarter and users would find that is makes more sense to buy songs than stream them.
Wait a second, if a user streams a song 99 times, will Psonar let them keep it?
All those pennies add up. Idea to steal: Song-layaway.