Who Will Win the Music Streaming War?

Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion. Google paid $39 million for Songza. Which tech giant made the better deal?

Apple’s acquisition of Beats and Google’s buyout of Songza signifies both companies’ intention to enter the modern music industry. The popularity of music streaming services has boomed over the last couple of years, demonstrating the shift from CD’s and paid downloads, to curated playlists and the need to provide music on demand.

In 2013, revenues from streaming and subscription services leapt 51.3 percent globally, valuing the industry at $1 billion for the first time. It’s estimated that more than 28 million people worldwide now pay for a music subscription, up from 20 million in 2012 and just 8 million in 2010. Not to be left behind, major tech players are taking action. But which company (Apple or Google), made the better deal?

Here’s a breakdown of the two acquisitions:

Apple’s Acquisition of Beats

Google’s Acquisition of Songza

Paid $3 billion, with only $500,000 going to Beats Music and rest going to Beats Electronics.Paid $39 million, with entire payment going to music (Songza does not have an electronics division)
Net value of music division: $461 millionNet value of music division: $39 million
Most value comes from exclusive licensing deals for Beats MusicValue comes from Songza product itself, not licensing deals
Although there is an option to get curated playlists, Beats mainly focuses on computer-selected lists and user-generated listsSongza provides users with playlists that are hand-selected by music critics and DJs
Apple also acquires two big names: Dr. Dre (musician) and Jimmy Iovine (industry trend expert)Google acquires one big name: Elias Roman (CEO of Songza)
Product will not integrate with other Apple products (iTunes possible exception)Product may integrate with Google Now to create playlists based on the weather and surrounding environment of the user
Product uses traditional advertising methods and paid subscription modelProduct uses corporate sponsorship of playlists to enhance mobile user experience

From a financial standpoint, Apple seems to have made the better deal because it purchased several services, including the Beats Music service, while Google only acquired Songza as a lone entity. However, Songza’s ability to integrate with other Google services, and its reliance on corporate sponsorship, may help it edge ahead in the music streaming war. What do you think?


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