Happy new year. 2012 is going to be a great year to be a music lover here in Australia. We’re finally getting the legal music streaming services that the likes of Europe and the US have had for years.

There have been a few such services available here before now but – irritatingly – until now they’ve required Australian music fans to buy specific hardware to conveniently listen. Anubis.fm required an expensive Sonos system, for example.

(Even more irritatingly music labels made Australia a battleground against download piracy without giving local consumers a legal, reasonably-priced alternative as in other countries. But that’s another story.)

That’s all about to change with companies — backed by the major music labels — getting the go-ahead to launch music streaming services here.

International company Spotify is rumoured to be launching here in February. They’re hiring Sydney staff and have appointed ex-Google executive Kate Valeto as sales director to market their wares in the Australasia region.

Locally, JB Hi-Fi have seen the writing on the retail wall and have realised the era of CD sales is coming to an end. Their JB Hi-Fi Now offering is currently in beta mode and it’s free to sample the service for a month.

Anubis.fm has rebranded itself as Songl and, like Spotify, enables listeners to save playlists or albums offline to be played back via the likes of iPhones and Android phones. It’s also free to try for a month in beta mode.

I’ll review all the new music streaming services in detail soon.

The earworm blog will change to get with the times to make it more about the music you – dear reader – listen to.

New regular features will give you the chance to spread the word about the music you enjoy. And – thanks to these newfangled music streaming services – playlists of recommended songs will be available to listen to and download.

The ‘earworm song of the day’ will feature one reader’s recommendation per day…and if you don’t participate I’ll make the choice every day and we don’t want that, do we? A monthly playlist of the nominated songs will be compiled at – you’ve guessed it – the end of each month for everyone’s listening pleasure.

Crikey bloggers will be invited to nominate their songs of the month each month…and – again – if they don’t participate I’ll pick all the songs myself. *cue evil laugh* Bawahahahahaha. Ha.

The new music streaming services will mean I’ll be able to review more albums, more often and earworm will anoint an album of the month at – you’ve guessed it – the end of each month. It’ll certainly make the end of year best albums list easier to compile, for starters.

Last – but certainly not least – the ‘Classic Album?’ posts will be resurrected on a weekly basis. I’m trying to figure out a way to enable readers to vote on each album’s classic status on a weekly basis to make it a little more democratic (although I’ll still review them too). One man’s music meat is another man’s poison – or Poison – and all that.

So, here’s to 2012. It really is a great time to be a music fan in Australia. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Welcome to earworm version 2.0.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESy-Z8vqMrE&ob=av2e[/youtube]