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.

  6. All the Media Punters all seem to think that customers are going to flock to subscription services just because that is the model the music industry as been promoting and hyping for the last few as the savior of the big music labels. Subscription models don’t help the small labels, nor does it help indie artists all subscription services models do is maintain the status quo of the all ready stale and stagnant music industry. The big labels need to fail or at least become smaller players in the market.

    Subscription Music = Consumer Slavery.
    The FTC and Justice Departments need to seriously look at the Music Industry if it starts to limit sells in favor of subscription services.

  7. Complete BS…complete BOGUS…analyst can’t figure out anything about the new iPhone and simply don’t have anything else to write about…yet they have to get their paycheck doing something.
    Subscriptions are like ARMS…they look purty up front, yet are arm twisting. It’s like marrying Jessica Alba, and she can’t cook or do anything except look purty for a few years.

  8. ‘The statistics show that there’s no effect on piracy,'” Anderson writes.

    Wait! You mean all the money companies have been paying Microsoft all these years for DRM software, licensing, and services was for NOTHING?

  9. Subscriptions suck. I was watching a documentary yesterday where I guy noted that 600 million people paying 50 dollars a year for free access to all the major labels’ complete recordings to download unrestricted and own as many times as you want would give the record industry the same earnings they make today. In addition, there would still be money made from CDs for a long time.

  10. Music subscriptions are a RIP OFF!!!!! This doesn’t make sense, and Steve Jobs said so himself. Anal-ists are talking through there anals again. I don’t want to pay for my music over and over again only to have it wiped out if I don’t pay. I have a music collection, which means I want to be able to pull it up anytime, any day, any year I want to listen to it. Without some corporate GREEDY record exec exclaiming you need to pay for it again. NO THANK YOU!!!

    If you’ll notice iTunes is on top for one reason, THEY DON”T DO SUBCRIPTIONS!!! People don’t want them, only the record companies do so they can make you pay every single month for the rest of your damn lives! Great retirement money for them but does absolutely nothing for you. Oh, did you want to burn that to a CD? Pay again!! Did you want that on your iPod, pay again! This is the model the record execs would LOVE to have. Everyone paying every single time you play your music. I’m sorry the music is over priced already.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.