As previously reported, radio and entertainment body Southern Cross Austereo are now entering the booming streaming music market with their very own, major label-backed service.

Songl, a joint venture with record label majors Sony and Universal, has now exited its beta testing stage and is in the hand of consumers, boasting users will “be able to enjoy [their] music anywhere, anytime on any device… all for less than the cost of a CD every month.”

As CNET reports, Songl is also available as a free 30-day trial for new users wishing to sign up to the service, which has been overhauled with a new visual aesthetic as well as a few unique features hoping to set it apart from those who have already established a foothold in the Australian market, including the Swedish-based market leader Spotify, and its major competitor Deezer.Chiefly, Songl is using its Southern Cross Austereo connections to provide content from its radio networks

Chiefly, Songl is using its Southern Cross Austereo connections to provide content from its radio networks, in the form of their DJs and hosts (from their Triple M and 2Day Networks for example) providing playlists and video content, including guest interviews and playlist coverage, which will all stream directly from the web-based application.

Subscription fees for Songl will be $AU 12.99 a month, allowing for listening through desktop, streaming at a quality of 128kbps or 320kbps, while mobile users can cache up to 1000 tracks on their device for offline listening through Android and iOS based apps.

Southern Cross Austereo’s music streaming service has a catalogue that spans “over 100,000” artists, though the figure of the final library is in the millions, it’s yet to be made clear just how big it is in comparison the 16/17 million-strong likes of Spotify and Deezer.

The news of one of Australia’s major radio networks entering the streaming service could be seen as a case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’, the move coming after the PPCA’s significant court victory over Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) last February, in which the Federal Court overturned a previous ruling in an appeal from the PPCA that now allows them to seek license fees from CRA for internet simulcasts.

The unanimous ruling declared that musicians and labels should be entitled to receive royalties when commercial radio streams music online, agreeing with the PPCA’s declaration that “internet simulcasts of radio programs fall outside the definition of a ‘broadcast’ under the Copyright Act and are therefore not covered by existing licences granted to Australian commercial radio stations.”
The news of one of Australia’s major radio networks entering the streaming service could be seen as a case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’.

Southern Cross Austereo entering the market could be seen as a sign of supplying its own streaming content and offsetting the costs of licensing through the cost of the subscription fees to Songl, complimenting their traditional radio broadcasting with an online streaming radio and on-demand model to skirt around the need to pay additional license fees for an internet broadcast.

SCA’s Songl introduction also recognises the growing popularity of streaming services as it continues to encroach on radio’s market share. Particularly given statistics that show that more and more users are accessing digital music libraries through their smartphones.

A recent report from stats tracker, the NPD Group, reveals that more than half of smartphone and tablet users (such as iPhones and iPads for instance) are using their devices to listen to music, with 56% of smartphone users rocking out, with 39% of them doing it daily. Smartphone users are listening to internet radio (65%), while those listening to on-demand music services like Spotify or Deezer is growing (at 30%), with an overall 39% of stats showing listeners.

It’s not just consumers listening to music in their cars and on-the-go, with the same NPD Group statistics demonstrating that sales of wireless streaming speakers, such as the popular Sonos brand, more than tripled in 2012.

“Products that enhance listening like streaming speakers and soundbars with Bluetooth and even premium headphones have experienced tremendous growth over the past year is evidence that consumers aren’t only satisfied with music on-the-go they increasingly want to use these devices for a better in-home music experience,” said NPD Group’s Ben Arnold.

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