Qobuz Postpones US Launch for 2019 and Announces Pricing Plan

November 29 2018, 01:35
French online music service Qobuz promised to launch its streaming and download subscriptions in the US in 2018, offering a completely new option for the industry, with a high-end tier plan of 24-bit FLAC streaming that until now has never been available. Throughout the year, Qobuz has been actively promoting the service and the different hi-res streaming and download options. The company finally made an announcement confirming its US pricing plan, and stated that steps have been taken towards an "early 2019 US launch."

According to the announcement, Qobuz "has spent the fall laying the groundwork for its early 2019 US launch. Providing the first opportunity music fans in the United States will have to experience true Hi-Res audio streamed, Qobuz has already secured a multi-million track Hi-Res catalog ahead of launch, and today announces its US pricing plan."
"A revolutionary development in accessibility of a high quality music library, Qobuz offers the most true Hi-Res music of any streaming service. The 24-bit streaming FLAC files can be played on any equipment and require no special processing. Qobuz allows unlimited importing of music in any quality on all the user’s devices, and, with its up to 24-bit/192k Hi-Res download store, will continue to offer consumers options that flow substantial revenues back to creators."
US music enthusiast, like those in many other countries, have been eagerly awaiting Qobuz’s arrival since its 2007 founding in France. Available so far in eleven European countries, Qobuz is a popular streaming and download service of choice for users looking for the highest possible quality and the company offers in fact an extensive catalog of hi-res recordings in its download catalog and makes it possible to stream that catalog also in 16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC (lossless) format, like TIDAL already does. The company's premium reputation is also based on its focus on deep metadata, complete digital booklets, interactive articles and reviews, and exclusive playlists, all available conveniently in-app on every platform. But claiming hi-res (24-bit at 96kHz at least) in FLAC is a completely new ballgame, considering the challenges to scale the service to million of users. Technically, it can be done - uncompressed WAV files and even DSD files can be streamed using today's broadband services - but scaling on-demand libraries with millions of hi-res files to millions of users in a large market has never been done. Also, that top-tier "unlimited hi-res streaming" option is not cheap.
Qobuz Hi-Res demonstration at CES 2018.
As Qobuz now confirms, the beta version of Qobuz is currently being tested in the US preceding wide release, and the finalized pricing is now confirmed to be $299.99/year. That's the Qobuz Sublime+ option for full Hi-Res streaming, which also includes "substantial" (40-60%) discounts on purchases from the Qobuz Hi-Res (up to 24-bit / 192 khz) download store. For those users that just wish to have streaming, there's the Studio plan, for $24.99/month, allowing for unlimited Hi-Res (24-bit /up to 192 khz) streaming ($249.99 annually). The 16-bit CD quality streaming only Hi-Fi option comes at $19.99/month ($199.9 annually), while the cheapest option for $9.99/month allows for 320 kbps MP3 quality streaming ($99.99 annually) but Qobuz still calls it "Premium." Why would Qobuz opt for the discontinued and undesirable MP3 codec, when there are much better and more efficient codec options is another relevant question.
In this announcement dated November 28, 2018, Qobuz says the "launch date will be announced soon," and confirms the company is working on preparations, following the opening of its US headquarters in NYC, again heading to AXPONA and CES in 2019 as the Official Streaming Platform, while it is also working on its content catalog licenses. Qobuz confirms it "has secured exclusive editorial content and prioritized hard-to-find jazz and classical cuts to round out the diverse catalog."
At launch, Qobuz will be available on all Mac/iOS/Android/Windows operating systems.
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