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Sony axes its Music Unlimited service, teams up with Spotify for PlayStation Music

Sony is partnering with streaming music service Spotify to launch PlayStation Music, a service that will allow users to listen to tunes while they game. PlayStation Music will replace Sony's Music Unlimited service, and will launch this spring.

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Sony and Spotify are teaming up to launch the PlayStation Music streaming service this spring. Here, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai speaks at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Steve Marcus/Reuters

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Sony is throwing in the towel on its in-house music streaming platform, Music Unlimited, and teaming up with Spotify to launch PlayStation Music. Starting in April or May, gamers will be able to play Spotify songs on their PS3 or PS4 consoles, or with Sony Xperia smartphones or tablets, and listen to tunes while slaying zombies or adventuring in hostile lands.

PlayStation Music will start as a free trial, and current subscribers to Music Unlimited will get February as a free month of service. Even those who never subscribed to Music Unlimited will be able to use it for free during its final month, from February 28 to March 29. Once PlayStation Music goes live, gamers will be able to link their Spotify and PlayStation accounts, and can pay for a Spotify subscription through their PlayStation wallet, the same system used to buy games on Sony consoles.

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Music Unlimited was called “Qriocity” when it launched in 2010 in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and although it eventually expanded to 19 countries in all, the service was never really very popular among PlayStation users. Dedicated streaming music services such as Spotify and Pandora were simply more popular than Sony’s service, even though Sony had the advantage of having hardware production, a record label, and a movie studio all under one roof. Sony integrated Music Unlimited more deeply into its other services, but the service never really caught on.

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Music Unlimited will shut down at the end of March, and PlayStation Music will launch soon afterward. The new service will be available in 41 countries, including the US, UK, Brazil, and Australia. It’s possible that you’ll need to a Spotify Premium account (at a cost of $10 per month) to use PlayStation Music: that’s how much Music Unlimited currently costs. But subscribers to the PlayStation Plus service get Music Unlimited for just $12 a year (as well as free games and extra storage space), so Sony may offer a similar discount when PlayStation Music goes live.

Sony’s partnership with Spotify is a very small part of a major rebranding effort, in which the company will consolidate all its streaming services as part of the PlayStation Network. Sony pledged back in November to manufacture fewer TVs and smart phones, since those lines of business aren’t profitable for the company, and to focus on selling more video games, consoles, and gaming services. The company has a few other nifty services that will launch soon, including the PlayStation Vue streaming-video service and a version of the PlayStation Now game-rental service that can run directly on certain TVs.