Samsung's Milk Music Joins the Premium Radio Service Race

Samsung has added a premium tier to its streaming service, Milk Music, making it the latest company to roll out an inexpensive, radio-like streaming service.

For $3.99 per month, Milk Premium adds offline listening and unlimited song skipping to the regular offering of 200 stations and a personalization features. Both Milk Premium and the free version of Milk Music are free of advertisements.

Launched in March, Milk Music is the latest music services offered by mobile device manufacturers. Milk Premium follows Nokia's MixRadio, BlackBerry's now-defunct BBM Music and Apple's iTunes Radio, a free product built into the music app on iOS mobile devices.

Milk Music's new premium tier continues the trend in paid radio services: low-cost radio services, typically $3.99 per month, as alternatives to the premium, on-demand services typically priced at $10 per month. Consumers have numerous options for free, online radio, yet companies are betting some listeners will pay for more features.

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Many of these premium radio services cost the same. Slacker, which powers Milk Music, for its Radio Plus service, and Rhapsody's new unRadio, a radio-like extension of Rhapsody's core on-demand service, are also priced at $3.99 per month. Pandora's premium offering, Pandora One, costs $4.99 per month for new subscribers.

Milk Music has the competitive benefit of being offered by Samsung, the world's top smartphone manufacturer. The company has followed Apple's example and uses music to help establish its brand identity. Its efforts reached a crescendo last year with its release of Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail album exclusively through Samsung devices. Earlier this month, Milk Music announced a partnership with ADD52, the artist development platform created by music industry veterans Russell Simmons and Steve Rifkind.

There are some limiting factors, however. Milk Music is currently available only to owners of select Galaxy devices, putting it out of reach of some Samsung buyers and many mobile device users. As for Samsung, its share of the global smartphone market dropped to 25 percent from 32 percent in the second quarter.