CNET Editor: Apple will soon introduce subscription-based music and video service

“Going against conventional wisdom, I think Apple will soon introduce a subscription-based music and video service. Although music-subscription services have been in the digital music rotation for years now–and with relatively low success–Apple has repeatedly shunned this still intriguing distribution model for its iTunes Music Store. But the digital music space is still young, and as competition from the likes of WMP 11 and Urge heats–or, rather, warms–up, I believe Apple may shock us with its own bulletproof version of an all-you-can eat iTunes club. And consumers will lick it up,” James Kim, Senior editor, CNET Reviews writes. “While subscription services have struggled to capture the hearts and wallets of the masses, the infrastructure and the standards for operating a service are ready to go. While not everybody will warm to the idea of renting songs, the time is now for users to accept the subscription model as one of the many options for consuming music.”

“Imagine a subscription-enabled iTunes 7 with all-you-can-stream access to more than 3 million tracks for $10 month. You’d also be able to compile playlists manually or automatically using a mix of your own songs and the entire iTunes catalog. You could actually fill up a 60GB iPod with the click of a button. You’d still have the option to buy tracks, perhaps for less than 99 cents. As a subscriber, you’d get access to videos and maybe even movies for a few bucks more. Of course, you’d have to get the newest iPod, equipped with an internal subscription clock,” Kim writes. “I can’t believe that in five years, Apple won’t have a subscription service. The company has taken note of the problems on the WMA side, plus it has the advantage of controlling both the hardware and software sides of the subscription equation. The time is now for an easy-to-use, utterly convenient, and cheap subscription service from Apple.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: A subscription service option for iTunes that works for both Mac and Windows PC users plus also works with iPods? Now that sounds like a winner to us. Not for everyone, of course, but it would be a nice option to have. What do you think?

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Related articles:
Apple iTunes music and video store takes first step toward subscription model – March 08, 2006
Survey hints at Apple iTunes movie service with subscription, a la carte models explored – March 02, 2006
EMI Music Chairman: Music subscription services like Napster and Rhapsody haven’t beeen huge – January 23, 2006
BusinessWeek: Apple unlikely to launch music subscription service – August 15, 2005
Merrill Lynch analyst: Apple could ‘flick the switch on a music subscription model’ – May 13, 2005
Apple cautious about online music subscription model – May 09, 2005
Study shows Apple iTunes Music Store pay-per-download model preferred over subscription service – April 11, 2005
Should Apple add subscription service to iTunes? – March 07, 2005
Apple to add subscription-based option to iTunes Music Store? – December 06, 2004

76 Comments

  1. i still believe in *owning* my music… but options are always good i suppose. but rest assured subscription services will never get my dollar. simple as that.

    frankly, if anything, what i would much much rather see is the option to pay a few cents more for 320 kbps aac or lossless! WITH liner notes and lyrics included for every song, thank you very much. the closer the digital product can approximate the physical, the more likely i am to spend a greater percentage of my music dollar at itms versus amazon, or any number of overseas vendors, online and offline. (my current habits). paying for overseas shipping is a bitch! but please…i need a worthy alternative. and 128 kbps is only acceptable (for me) for the most casual of purchases.

  2. i wanna own my music, so if i lose a job, i can listen to depressing sad songs, not silence because i cant keep up payments, music renting is bad, the average person doesnt even buy that much music, so it would be cheaper for them to just by the 1-5 albums they get a year.

  3. iTunes may be forced into a subscription option, but by a force outside of Redmond and the music labels.

    The true pressure of adoption comes from Hollywood.

    The movie industry is in poor shape, but no where near where the music labels were a few years ago. Technically speaking, online pirating of movies is increasing, but movie file size + lack of bandwidth + waste-o-time = slow movie pirating rates.

    Hollywood will be content to spin out down load services through a host of companies and slowly grow it’s online presence, avoiding partnering with Apple, putting pressure on Apple to play their game.

    Counter to this direction is Steve Jobs. Steve has arm-twisting abilities like no other at Disney, and this may be the key to flushing out Hollywood.

    Disney will deliver their movies through various online services, but Steve will take sure that Disney movie content is delivered the way Steve desires on iTunes.

    If Disney titles sell/rent at a rapid pace on iTunes (quite likely), one by one the movie houses will cave to Steve Jobs iTunes distribution model.

    From a practical view, I would say the former model of Hollywood getting there way is most likely. But track record-wise I would not bet against Jobs being the eventual victor.

    Meanwhile, Bill Gates will continue to talk about the time MS has in entering the market, and how great they will be when they do – along with waxing about how much OS and Office market share they have…

  4. Man, if Apple introduced a subscription service to go along with its pay-per-song model, the competition wouldn’t stand a chance. I would even wager that the subscription model would actually become successful if Apple introduced it. There would be so much blood on the click wheel of the iPod it wouldn’t even be funny.

  5. As a recording artist with songs for sale on all major services, I can assure that subscription models stink.

    I personally end up getting a fraction of a penny for each of my songs that someone “rents.”

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