Subscription music services: Are we there yet?

Microsoft on Thursday announced a new music subscription model for its Zune music player and the big question in the back of the room is this: Will subscription music services ever become dominant?Sure, there are a few folks that subscribe to their music.

Microsoft on Thursday announced a new music subscription model for its Zune mus

zune1.png
ic player and the big question in the back of the room is this: Will subscription music services ever become dominant?

Sure, there are a few folks that subscribe to their music. And Microsoft has signed agreements with EMI Music, Sony BMG Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group in addition to a bunch of independent labels (Techmeme, statement). The deal: You pay $14.99 a month, you keep 10 tracks a month for your permanent collection and Zune customers keep the DRM free music.

Sounds logical although Microsoft's Zune doesn't have the market share to make subscriptions mainstream by itself. I never quite got the "I want to download and own" music mantra. I'd prefer a subscription model since I'm tired of managing a collection. Just get me the rights and let me discover stuff. Then again, I'm only conceptually on the bandwagon since I have an iPod and am not running out to get Napster ToGo, Rhapsody or some other services.

Also see: Matthew Miller: Zune 3.1 firmware gives you 3 new games, price drops for flash Zunes too

Sam Diaz: Can a price cut, TV ad give Zune a lift?

CNET: Subscription music guide

On the whiteboard, the music subscription model looks like a no-brainer. Of course, you'd want access to all the songs in the world. Of course, you wouldn't use half of them. But that's half the fun--you could listen to everything. Some experts such as Wharton professor Peter Fader have noted to me repeatedly that the subscription model for music will ultimately dominate. I think he's right, but I'm like that little annoying kid in the back of the car always wondering if we are there yet.