BusinessWeek: Apple unlikely to launch music subscription service

“Ask folks in the digital-music industry [look] to make predictions for the next year, and here’s one that would be the near the top of most lists: Apple Computer, the king of selling downloads thanks to the huge success of its iTunes Music Store, will launch a music-subscription service. That way, consumers who don’t want to buy big digital collections could pay a flat monthly fee to hear — but not own — almost any song they want,” Heather Green and Peter Burrows write for BusinessWeek.

“BusinessWeek Online has learned that Apple is not likely to get into the subscription game soon — and maybe not ever, unless one of its rivals comes up with a way to make subscriptions mainstream,” Green and Burrows report. “Two music executives tell BusinessWeek Online that earlier this summer, soon after Yahoo’s announcement of its Music Unlimited subscription service, Apple sounded them out about potential financial terms of a subscription service. One of the label executives said Apple was concerned about what e-tailer or Google might do in this area. But, says the source, Apple seemed unlikely to make a move until a rival began forging inroads into its music empire.”

Green and Burrows report, “That’s a ways off yet. So far, only 2 million-or-so people have signed up for offerings such as RealNetworks’ Rhapsody service or one from Napster. Even Yahoo’s 3-month-old Music Unlimited, although priced at less than half of the others at just $60 a year, has failed to make big headway… Regardless of how many analysts, entrepreneurs, or current subscription customers think subscription services are the future of digital music, Apple may hold the key to it ever arriving.”

Full article here.

Related articles:
Over half a billion songs have been sold from Apple’s iTunes Music Store – July 18, 2005
S&P Equity Research downgrades Real on Microsoft news; says Apple may explore subscription service – June 10, 2005
Microsoft plans music subscription service, may allow conversion of Apple iTunes-purchased tracks – June 10, 2005
Report: Apple iTunes Music Store more popular than most peer-to-peer file sharing services – June 07, 2005
Merrill Lynch analyst: Apple could ‘flick the switch on a music subscription model’ – May 13, 2005
Study shows Apple iTunes Music Store pay-per-download model preferred over subscription service – April 11, 2005
Apple iTunes Music Store also-rans pin hopes on subscription model – January 03, 2005


  1. I am against the suscription service model… but if Apple must do it (I said IF), they should tie it with .Mac. Think about it, for $60 per year your get unlimited download songs and .Mac suscription (a strim down version) and you can upgrade to normal .Mac with $50 more.

    Well maybe the pricing scheme should be thought out better. But, what I am trying to say, is that Apple will have, not only the advantage of being the king of the hill in music services right now, but also more features with .Mac than the rest of the competition.


  2. Consumers realize that, despite Naptster’s deceiving ads, subscription services are a rip-off. Apple realizes this too, and I think they won’t open iTMS to subscriptions unless the public demands it. Hopefully the public will stay wise on the subject.

  3. When you buy something, you own it. Renting music is unfair to consumers and is basically extortion; pay every month if you want to keep hearing your music.

    Steal, steal, steal… until the record companies realize that $18.99 is too much to charge for a CD, and until they realize that we have had enough of being treated like children when it comes to DRM.

    You buy it, you own it. When will record companies realize that?

  4. Subscription services just makes you pay over and over again for the music you have downloaded. Why not just buy it once and not have to deal with checking in every month just so you can play that same music. It’s a dumb model and that’s why no one is rushing over to get in it.
    Buying and owning your own music is the only way to go. You don’t have to check in every month. You can burn it to a CD without an extra charge on top of that monthly charge. It just doesn’t make sense.

  5. I can rent music whenever I want. It’s called “Satellite Radio”. If I want to borrow music for free, I tune in to FM or borrow a friend’s CDs. Music subscription services are for people with no friends and no home stereo.

  6. Most I see, especially on Amazon, are around 12 bucks. Canadian!

    As a fellow Canadian… er.. you’re joking right?

    You didn’t know that EVERYWHERE else, CD’s are expensive?

  7. I think Steve Jobs hit the nail on the head when he said people want to OWN their music. Personally, the thought of having to rent my music is not appealing to me. If Apple does get into this (and I agree with the above article that this is a big if), you can be sure it will not be just a knock-off of existing services and will be innovation in some way.

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