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  • iTunes to The Rescue?

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    For many of us, iTunes is the ultimate source of escape and utter bliss. But for as dependent as we are on iTunes, the music industry itself may soon have to depend on it too.

    For survival, that is.

    With millions of music lovers turning to the digital sphere rather than a physical storefront to get the music they want, the recording industry has been bleeding money over what now amounts to a fairly extended period of time. As a result, analysts like Matt Rosoff from CNET think the record industry better hope and pray that Apple has a subscription service in the works. Such a service may, in fact, be the only way the record biz can compensate for myriad losses elsewhere.
    The record industry better hope that Wednesday's Apple announcement is big news--pre-cut ringtones, a new digital album format, perhaps the addition of recordings from some obscure 1960s rock band who were apparently pretty good. According to an analysis in today's Billboard Online, the usual summer slump in digital download sales is more pronounced this year, and ringtone sales continue their steep decline. For an industry that's counting on digital to make up for declines in CD sales, that's very unwelcome news.
    It's no secret that subscription-based music makes for a horrible business solution. As illustrated by past failures elsewhere, there are many reasons for Apple to completely retire the idea (assuming they had it to begin with). Yet, if the Beatles are coming to iTunes, and an upgrade to the popular music player is on tap, perhaps Apple could get away with some form of limited subscription-based music service.

    Imagine if Apple combined a new subscription service with the iTunes Genius function, which is conceptually similar to Pandora but currently limited to your existing music collection. (It also recommends songs in the iTunes store, but you have to buy them individually, which kind of ruins the delightful-surprise factor.) How much would you pay for that? Now multiply that by some percentage--20 percent might be reasonable--of present and future iPhone and iPod Touch users, and suddenly you're talking about meaningful annual revenue.
    If there was ever a viable time to introduce such a service, one could argue that time is now. Although I won't go so far, some speculate that Apple may already have a subscription package in the works and ready for unveiling today. That's highly unlikely in my book. But it could be a development in the very near future. As Rosoff notes in his commentary, Steve Jobs has long held the view that Apple customers want to "own rather than rent music." But if Jobs can change his mind about a video iPod (an idea he was once against), perhaps a subscription based music service would not only be a plausible endeavor for Apple, but a much needed lifeline to the recording industry that, after all, does supply us with the music we enjoy through the heavenly portal known as iTunes.

    The real question, however, is this: Would you actually pay for such a service?
    This article was originally published in forum thread: iTunes to The Rescue? started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. matdogg's Avatar
      matdogg -
      sounds like a really gret idea to me. i love the idea of a subscripton service on itunes. is all this rumored to be released in the next version?
    1. reveritt90's Avatar
      reveritt90 -
      I might depending on the price, I mean 15-20 bucks a month, why not, anything more and I'll stick with frostwire
    1. LSZ33's Avatar
      LSZ33 -
      I'd be willing to pay for a subscription if it included movies & tv show rentals to compete with netflix. I tried netflix and was disgusted by their online streaming catalog... If you can call it that.
    1. Channan's Avatar
      Channan -
      $15/month and I'll give it a shot. But only if I could also download songs directly in the iTunes app as part of the service. If not, then it's no longer convenient and I'll keep stealing music. Sorry, but at $1.29 per song, I just can't afford to buy my music.
    1. BenzoHartt's Avatar
      BenzoHartt -
      I've got a pretty hefty music supply, so i'm not sure if I'd be interested in a subscription service. However, i do agree that a change by all of the major labels will need to grab a hold of the digital wave and fast!
    1. rwin84's Avatar
      rwin84 -
      I wont use such a service. Its restrictive. I want complete freedom to do what i want with the things i pay for.
    1. keatonec's Avatar
      keatonec -
      i agree. /\/\
    1. klouud's Avatar
      klouud -
      Subscription services are great for the consumer if you know how to take full advantage of them

      tim
    1. XanderVincent's Avatar
      XanderVincent -
      They might finally catch up with Microsoft and people act like it's something amazing?

      $15 a month many said they wouldn't mind. Well how about getting to keep 10 songs a month permanently, oh yeah and having a better software to play it with. <3

      I mean, I just like having columns for artist, album, and song, where I can see around 50 albums at a time... not five.

      Plus, "Now Playing"?

      iTunes = Fail.

      Try Zune, or Songbird. It's not 2000 anymore.
    1. A_DuB187's Avatar
      A_DuB187 -
      I might go for it if it's something like Zune and it's completely optional but at the end of the month you get to keep some of the music.
    1. Luppin's Avatar
      Luppin -
      The notion that the music industry is hurting is an absolute joke. Sure stealing music is pretty much the norm nowadays for anyone under the age of say maybe 25-30 but if you legitimately like a band you're going to buy their cd, and if that's the case you're going to try to own a physical copy of it, not a string of 0's and 1's. So the idea that iTunes is somehow going to revitalize a "dying" music industry that isn't even hurting is pathetic.
    1. MetallicaFan1991's Avatar
      MetallicaFan1991 -
      Lol everyone steals music but yeh if you like the band you should buy their CD's like I bought Metallica, MJ and Guns N' Roses but if I want some other song, I'll just get it for free. I really can't afford to buy music either yet, maybe when I'm over 30.
    1. soulthoughts's Avatar
      soulthoughts -
      Why would people do this when we can already buy individual tracks? I'm not sure how this helps the industry?
    1. ///Maybach's Avatar
      ///Maybach -
      Maybe they should just make better music...
    1. andypropaganda's Avatar
      andypropaganda -
      Quote Originally Posted by reveritt90 View Post
      I might depending on the price, I mean 15-20 bucks a month, why not, anything more and I'll stick with frostwire
      For unlimited downloads...then maybe I'd do it. Otherwise, screw that.
    1. one1's Avatar
      one1 -
      Most people spend more than $15 a month on music, videos, etc...... No need for apple to cut it's revenue.
    1. mdc929's Avatar
      mdc929 -
      ehh im not too keen on subscription based services
    1. Channan's Avatar
      Channan -
      Quote Originally Posted by one1 View Post
      Most people spend more than $15 a month on music, videos, etc...... No need for apple to cut it's revenue.
      Not me. I haven't bought a song since I figured out how to use LimeWire 3 years ago, back when I got my first iPod. lol
    1. measin's Avatar
      measin -
      Ok, so you would like to see subscription service in iTunes, just like Zune? No way, I repeat, no way will I pay for that. Then you might as well listen to last.fm and similar sites. If I am to fork out cash for music online then I want to own the tunes, and I want them DRM free.
      Also I cannot fathom why modmyi voices an opinion to have subscriptions services, the music industry is doing great according to all financial statements, at least they are doing a lot better than banks in these financial troubled times.
      Stop the whining about them not making money and let the music industry come up with something ingenious to grow further. But personally I believe that small labels, publishing thru iTunes and the like will be the future. Large companies with massive budgeting will keep promoting glamor stars, producing main stream milli vanilli stars till they die....
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      Quote Originally Posted by rwin84 View Post
      I wont use such a service. Its restrictive. I want complete freedom to do what i want with the things i pay for.
      It is a rental service...not a sales service. Just like Netflix only for music.

      Quote Originally Posted by XanderVincent View Post
      They might finally catch up with Microsoft and people act like it's something amazing?

      $15 a month many said they wouldn't mind. Well how about getting to keep 10 songs a month permanently, oh yeah and having a better software to play it with. <3

      I mean, I just like having columns for artist, album, and song, where I can see around 50 albums at a time... not five.

      Plus, "Now Playing"?

      iTunes = Fail.

      Try Zune, or Songbird. It's not 2000 anymore.
      Now Playing? I have that on my iPhone...so do you.

      I agree with you on Songbird. Once it is finally able to sync the iPhone I am done with iTunes. Of course we know Apple will not have any of that(can you say Pre?).

      iTunes is a pile of junk. I have a blazing system yet iTunes runs like crap. They managed to get Safari to load individual pages as their own processes so that the whole app won't crash if it starts having issues. They should implement this in iTunes.

      I would love to see a rental subscription as long as it is unlimited downloads for $20 or less a month.