It has been about a year since audio accessory maker Beats announced that it was planning to launch a new music streaming service. On Tuesday, the service finally went live

With a handful of big names behind it--producer Jimmy Iovine, Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, and rapper/producer Dr. Dre--the streaming service has been the subject of tremendous anticipation among both consumers and other companies in the industry. Beats Music’s potential, however, is still up for debate as the service just launched in a fairly crowded field. Spotify, Grooveshark, and Rdio are just a handful of the companies already operating in the music streaming space, and none of those is very profitable. 

Beats Music, which raised a reported $60 million in funding in 2013, plans to separate itself from the pack with human curation of songs. Beats Music will have artists compile mixes rather than rely on algorithms to select songs for listeners. 

Perhaps in anticipation of the Beats Music launch, Spotify on Monday announced in a company blog post that it had formed a partnership with Topspin, a sales-and-marketing software company, that allows artists to sell their merchandise on Spotify for free.

In other news, Tuesday marks the start of a federal court battle between music-streaming trailblazer Pandora and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. The trial will determine how much Pandora must pay publishers and songwriters for the music played on the service. Currently, Pandora hands over a total of 4.3 percent of its revenue for royalties, The Wall Street Journal reported

Published on: Jan 21, 2014