Why Buy When You Can Rent Digital Music?
from the return-of-subscriptions dept
When the first authorized music download services showed up online, they were mostly subscription-based services, and they failed miserably. The larger success didn't hit until Apple moved to a per song download offering with iTunes. However, many are predicting that the wave of the future will be subscription services, but they don't necessarily explain why. Arguments on both sides make sense. People do often gravitate to flat-rate pricing plans, even if just for the certainty of it (witness ISPs, mobile phone plans, telephone plans, etc.). However, as the article notes, all of these subscription services seem to work on the idea that if you ever cancel your service, you lose access to all the tracks you've downloaded -- though, it's not clear why that's a necessary feature. In fact, it seems overly burdensome, requiring the music to always remain within a framework that can be checked to make sure a subscription is current. The reasoning, probably, is that without that, people would just sign up for one month, download everything they want and quit. While there may be some people who do this, most won't bother -- and there are other defenses against this. The best of all, of course, is simply to keep producing good music that people will continue to want. However, if you watch the way the recording industry functions, it's as if they believe they'll never produce good music again. That's why they feel the need to overly protect the stuff they've done in the past. Subscription services can be done well, but being overly protective will kill the incentive for many people to sign up.