Australia's Songl Streaming Service To Shut Down

Australia’s crowded digital music market has one less player after Songl announced it would stop its subscription service next month.

The major-label backed Songl informed its users with the announcement, "Unfortunately, we are not continuing our on demand music subscription service after September 25, 2014."

When Songl shutters, it will have operated for just 18 months.

The service bowed in March 2013 as a joint venture of Sony Music Entertainment Australia, Universal Music Australia and Southern Cross Austereo under the umbrella of Digital Music Distribution (DMD). Its “premium” tier was priced at Australian $12.99 ($13.50) per month -- comparable with its rivals -- with the offer of a free one-month trial. The offering also came with an ad-funded “Songl Free” tier.

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Songl pushed its brand into the marketplace with a string of initiatives, including a partnership with media group Nine Entertainment Co. But its failure to strike a licensing deal at launch with independent rights agency Merlin caused friction with the domestic indie music community.

“Streaming is a global, high volume and small margin business. You can only survive in this game if you are part of a global organization,” explains Thomas Heymann, artist manager and founder of themusicconnection. “Only global organizations are able to pull off the kind of deals and partnerships with all the labels, Facebook and global brands that you need to grow fast," he tells Billboard.biz. Heymann knows just how tough the game is. He served as head of Deezer Australia & New Zealand since the affiliate was established in 2012, until it was shut earlier this year.

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Songl was relatively late to market. JB Hi Fi’s “Now” service opened for business in late 2011, sparking a flood of newcomers including international brands Spotify, Deezer, Rdio, Rara and Pandora. The new industry-supported Digital Content Guide identifies 27 digital music and video services in Australia, Songl being one of them.

They “might have had a chance if it would have started in Australia well before Spotify, Rdio and Deezer,” Heymann says, “and locked in a telco hard bundle deal.”

The Songl name, however, will live on. DMD is to be rebranded as Songl Solutions. "This will allow the new entity to focus on and leverage its core business of linear music supply to Foxtel’s 24/7 music service - Foxtel Music, which incorporates 32 linear music channels," a statement from SCA reads.