Another music service, Milk, shuts down

Milk Music is a service provided by Samsung. Today they announced they are closing the service If you wonder why music services get shut down:

  1. The cost of running a service – it takes a team of engineers to run these things. It seems like it should be less but a) the catalogs from the music labels are poorly done, b) there are service and payment issues, c) you need to keep the UI fresh, and d) running servers is not as simple as it should be (ask Apple about iCloud if you are curious).
  2. The return rate is low – labels are still charging as if we are in the land of the album whereas the overall wholesale price of music has plummeted. This means you you either of very deep pockets (Apple) or VC money (Spotify) or are running this because you forgot to turn off the lights (Microsoft).
  3. There are too many “free” choices out there – YouTube is okay and kids like it, Spotify has a free version and many people like that. Apple’s service is bizarre and weird and poorly designed but hey, it comes with my iPhone! People will pay for music but it needs to be a good deal and right now the deal is suspect for most people.

We will see more services like this go under. Pandora is on the block for example. I wonder when the “white label” music provider will make a comeback. For every Tier 2 player out there (e.g. Samsung, Microsoft, Google even) that wants a service as “table stakes” doing a white label business that handles the music ingestion, service, subscription, and allows the front company to design the UX would make a lot of sense. Not a great ROI but enough to stay in business (ironically Microsoft bought such a company years ago and got out of that very business).

Bad user experience – devices that talk

Example of bad user experience: 5 am, voice says “recharge battery soon” loudly enough to wake me up. Repeats at random intervals.
I spent 5 minutes in the garage trying to find *which* device was doing this (and smash it with a hammer). There are all sorts of devices (drills, saws, welder, etc) and it could come from anywhere and I cannot *quite* locate the stupid voice. But nor could I easily get back to sleep as I would be reminded every few minutes with *bzzzzz* “recharge battery soon”.
  1. Who thinks we want non-essential rechargeable devices to speak to us? Sure, the smoke detector is a good candidate for a voice telling me to change the batteries.
  2. Why wouldn’t it say “Hey, it’s the drill, recharge me”
  3. 5am? Smart enough to talk to me but not smart enough to wait to a decent hour?

This is the kind of thing that assures me that the makers of whichever device woke me up have *never* in fact had the device in their own homes.