Online-music rental services -- where users get access to a library of songs for as long as they pay a monthly fee -- keep hanging around, despite little apparent interest in them. In an attempt to breathe some life into its subscription service, called Zune Pass, Microsoft is now giving subscribers 10 songs they can permanently keep
per month. The company says its research shows that more consumers might consider subscription services at current pricing levels if they got "to take something with them." But isn't that just saying consumers prefer to buy music, rather than rent it? Rentals work for one-time-use items like movies and books, but for things like songs, which people tend to listen to multiple times, subscriptions aren't attractive. The argument that subscriptions are good for discovery doesn't really hold water, either, given the proliferation of online services that let users listen to huge libraries of music for free. One other angle to this news: why would anybody purchase digital content from Microsoft after the PlaysForSure fiasco
, in which it shut off its DRM servers, making it impossible to transfer PlaysForSure-"protected" content to any new devices, rendering it largely useless?