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


  1. I’d be thrilled to have both a subscription option and a permanent purchase option, provided it doesn’t screw up anything iTunes already offers. There’s music that’s worth $10 an album, and there’s music that’s worth a couple dollars to rent for a month.

    And if iTunes were to offer a subscription service, it would pretty much blow away the other music stores’ argument that it’s sooooooo expensive to fill up an iPod. (It isn’t, for those of us with 20-year-old CD collections numbering over a thousand discs, but somehow they neglect to mention that.)

  2. I’d prefer subscription for video and tv as opposed to buying i’m not that type that buys season series on dvd and stuff like that. i usually rent my movies too. don’t usually watch a movie over and over. but my music, i certainly like to own that, plus music is way cheaper than video. if itunes sells movies for even $9.99 each, i don’t think i’d buy. i’ll still go to my local kick@ss video store and rent it for $3.50 if i only plan to watch it once. my 2¢ at least.

  3. I think it makes sense as a business plan. Even if only 5% of users decide to subscribe, it’s a nice revenue stream for Apple. Apple has enough marketshare to dominate subscription services and it gives Apple one less competitive weakness. Also, because Apple dominates, when any other subscription service fails, people are most likely to move to the most reliable alternative. It was sensible for Apple to wait, but now that they have a big enough market, subscriptions aren’t a bad idea.

  4. Best idea would be a subscription where you could try as many as say 2000 songs per month (how many new songs you going to listen to anyway). By the end of each month you could designate say 10 songs from your subscription you could then own. That way you get the best of both worlds.

  5. I wouldn’t mind a reasonably priced subscription service – there is a lot of music I would like to try but don’t want to commit to buying outright without having had a real chance to listen to it, plus there is a lot of music I like for a time then get bored of so wouldn’t mind not actually owning. What would be great is a low price with possible some sort of reduction if you want to buy it fully, I’m not talking massive amounts but even a few cents per song might (depending on how much music you buy) make the subscription itself more worthwhile.

    Having both options would be great, after all if you don’t want to subscribe you don’t have to.

  6. Andy,
    “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.”

    – You’re partially correct. Most people do not want to spend a lot of money on music, especially since music tastes change and they may not want to be stuck with albums that they may not particularly care for a year or two later.

    Now, if a person only buys 5 albums a year, that’s not that many songs to listen to on your iPod, unless you’ve already bought or stolen thousands of dollars of music. But for the same amount each year, you can select from millions of songs that accommodate a wide variety of changing music tastes, and still have money to spare on the few albums that you really want to keep forever.

    An advantage that Apple has is that they would not be dependent on the subscription service for profits. In other words, they can price their subscription service much lower than the competition. This would be a great way to give consumers even more choice.

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