Why Sony-BMG's Music Subscription Idea Won't Work

from the wrong-way-to-go-about-things dept

With the recording industry's latest infatuation with "subscription" music systems, you would think that maybe they would look at why none of the existing subscription services have done all that well. Of course, that would take a bit of foresight, which some of the industry's top execs proudly admit isn't something they're big on. However, following hot on the heels of stories of the industry bundling a subscription service with iPhones and iPods, Sony BMG has announced that it is working on its own damn subscription plan, with details that scream "failure in waiting." Similar to the Apple rumors, you would lose songs if you ended the subscription, though you might be able to keep 30 or 40 songs (again, same as the Apple rumor). That would mean some kind of DRM. Yet, the story also claims that it will work on iPods, which means either that it's DRM-free (which disagrees with the earlier statement) or that Apple is licensing its FairPlay DRM (something the company has refused to do to date).

But the bigger problem is simply the fact that this would fragment the market. No one wants to shop at one store for Sony BMG musicians, another one for Warner Bros musicians, another for EMI musicians, another one for Universal Music musicians and yet another for indie musicians. And, at the price point Sony BMG is talking about ($9 to $12/month) if you want subscriptions to all the fragmented stores, you end up pay $75 to $100/month for DRM-encrusted subscription plans. That's not going to work. Time to go back to the drawing board and not come up with ideas that were discarded five years ago.

Filed Under: music subscriptions
Companies: sony bmg


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  1. identicon
    SteveD, 25 Mar 2008 @ 5:52pm

    An endless cycle

    I'm beginning to suspect that these companies will never be able to keep up; the more they change the faster the world will change around them.

    Rather then trying to teach an old dinosaur new tricks, wouldn't it be better for these groups to license their music to third parties? These third parties could aggregate all the music into one place, and compete with each other directly on how music is delivered to the customer to help drive innovation of service.

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