Analysts see iTunes music subscriptions in Apple’s future

“As more stores and record labels abandon digital rights management, Apple may have an alternative plan for subscription services,” Tim Anderson writes for The Guardian.

“Last year, EMI began offering songs without it on iTunes. ‘The industry has finally been able to get some hard data about how removing DRM restrictions from legitimately purchased tracks affects piracy,’ says Bill Rosenplatt, DRM specialist and president of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies. ‘The statistics show that there’s no effect on piracy,'” Anderson writes.

“No effect. The assertion is remarkable. If DRM does not in fact discourage piracy, then it is merely a nuisance for the user,” Anderson writes.

“Ironically, the music companies are now abandoning DRM because it worked too well. Apple wouldn’t license its version to rivals – so the best-selling iPod drove the iTunes store to its present position, where it is the third-largest music retailer in any form in the US,” Anderson erroneously reports.

MacDailyNews Note: That’s incorrect. Apple is the number one music retailer in the US.

Anderson continues, “In the meantime, some early adopters are suffering the consequences of DRM’s failure. Last month, former customers of Microsoft’s defunct MSN Music store in the US received an unwelcome email. ‘As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of licence keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers,’ it said.”

“The problem is worse than it first appears, since a ‘new’ device may actually be your existing PC. Some users habitually reinstall Windows to keep it running sweetly, but doing so removes its authorisation,” Anderson reports.

MacDailyNews Take: Windows is incapable of running sweetly and any users who rely on an OS that requires habitual wipes and reinstalls should have their heads examined.

Anderson continues, “Bill Rosenplatt, DRM specialist and president of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, thinks that subscriptions may turn out to be Apple’s answer to the DRM-free competition… Mark Mulligan, digital music analyst at Jupiter Research, also expects Apple to change its approach. ‘It’s highly likely Apple will get into the next-generation service game. That could be Apple selling iPods preinstalled with unlimited access to music, or with a bundle to a subscription offering,’ he says.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “RadDoc” for the heads up.]

As we’ve often said, Apple should offer an iTunes music subscription option if and when it makes business sense.


  1. Analysts also said the iPod would be a failure, MSN MusicStore would be a serious threat to iTunes and a host of other completely wrong analysis.

    I personally don’t like subscription services because ultimately they seem like a rip-off. Apple will, as it usually does, balance their business needs with the customers’ needs. That’s something the analysts never take into account. They figure out what’s best for the business, this time the music biz, but they don’t care about customer experience. Apple does.

  2. Why do these so-called analysts have such a bone for music subscriptions when none of those services has been successful? They hear the words ‘revenue stream’ and suddenly they become zombies.

    iTMS didn’t get to be #1 by selling subscriptions. Odd how this fact is lost on the people who should know better.

  3. The best answer to a DRM-free competition is to continue to deliver the best music player in the world (iPod), the best media management software (iTunes) & the best media store (iTunes Store).

    I wish I could unsubscribe all those subscription services just to let them know they suck, but unfortunately I haven’t subscribed.

  4. Microsoft is the perfect reason why Apple WON’T get into the subscription music business. Microsoft’s actions are simply a class action lawsuit waiting for August to be filed.

    Apple can always strip FairPlay from songs already downloaded, or just release a new version of iTunes which permanently unlocks any FairPlay songs.

  5. Music Subscriptions are just a way for the music industry to enslave the customers as they have enslaved their contracted performers. Subscriptions services will all fail. Customers do not want to rent their music.

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