Today Qobuz dropped a bomb that nobody saw coming. The company lowered its lossless / high resolution streaming price to $12.50 /month (annually) or $14.99 /month monthly, and said "so long" to its MP3 service level. This new price is for what it calls the Studio Premier tier. Qobuz, the world's best high quality streaming service, is now the least expensive. This is the beauty of a competitive market in which many companies are vying for consumers' hard earned money. I love it!
There are some details to this new Qobuz Studio Premier pricing. According to the Qobuz website this is an offer that goes until January 31, 2020 for the first 100,000 customers. But, Some existing customers (HiFi and Studio Monthly subscribers) will automatically be switched to this new pricing. Yearly subscribers can renew for another year to get the pricing and receive either a discount or a refund depending on how much time is left in their subscription.
I really hope Qobuz keeps its prices at this level forever.
Amazon Music HD launched in September, 2019 at a price of $14.99 ($12.99 for Prime members) per month, while Tidal and Qobuz have held steady for years at $19.99 and $24.99 per month respectively. Amazon's HD launch has been terrific on many levels, and a nonstarter on others. It's wonderful to see the Seattle-based behemoth pushing higher quality music streaming at a scale only the biggest companies can, and for a price that was much lower than any of the competition. The product has been full of issues for people who actually want to play this high quality music on most devices, but the bigger picture here is that over 100 million people are exposed to better sounding music and the issues can be dealt with via software updates.
Shortly after Amazon's HD launch, many pundits signed death certificates for Qobuz and Tidal. In most cases when Amazon moves into one's territory, the end result isn't good for the little guys. However, it's great to see that Qobuz, a tiny French company that launched in the US on Valentine's Day, 2019, is not only competing with Amazon, it's putting out a better product for less money. David is beating Goliath on every single level (user interface, customer service, playback options, etc...).
Perhaps the best part about this Qobuz announcement is the fact that it isn't catering to a market of audiophiles who already consume as much high quality music as any service can deliver. The best part is that now high quality music is priced within spitting distance of the low quality diluted AAC, MP3 and OGG offerings of Spotify and Apple Music. Qobuz isn't under any illusions that it will put the giants out of business, but the company believes this is major step toward the democratization of high quality music.
There are absolutely zero guarantees in life or that this bold move will turn more of the masses onto higher quality music and possibly better sounding components, but one can be hopeful when a company lays the groundwork for it to happen. I believe this is best place to start when seeking a wider audience for HiFi as a whole. The manufacturers we are all familiar with can release products costing a fraction of the price of their normal products, but this is still more than many people will spend to take a chance on something better. When the price to take a chance on better sound is less than a single pot of tea per month, one doesn't have to wait until the 1st or 15th of the month to pull the trigger.
What I'm saying is that a healthier HiFi industry starts at the source with better quality music for a little bit more money than the low quality options.
Note: Streaming MP3 is still possible within the Qobuz apps, nice when using an expensive and limited mobile data plan, by setting the quality level within the apps. The only thing MP3 related that's going away is the option to select an MP3 only subscription.
Here's a link to the new Streaming options at Qobuz - https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/music/streaming/offers
And, here are the details about the new pricing - https://try.qobuz.com/faq-studio-premier/
"Studio Premier gives you unlimited access to over 50 million tracks in lossless quality or Hi-Res along with our exclusive, in-depth editorial content for $14.99/ month ($149.99/year). This limited time promotion is available to the first 100,000 new subscribers and existing users until January 31, 2020
As part of our mission to make high-quality sound accessible to all, we have also updated our Sublime+ plan, to the new price of $249.99/year."