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Music Businesses Media Media (Apple) Apple

Apple Mulls Flat-Rate "Unlimited Music" Option 355

Posted by Zonk
from the sounds-delicious dept.
Mike writes "Apple is in discussions with the big music companies about an 'all you can eat' model for buying music that would give customers free access to its entire iTunes music library in exchange for paying a premium for its iPod and iPhone devices. Finally, it looks like the industry (or at least Apple) is 'getting it'. The real question is not whether the big music companies will go for it, but rather, who will be the first one to get smart and agree to offer it?"
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Apple Mulls Flat-Rate "Unlimited Music" Option

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  • As long as (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imamac (1083405) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:22PM (#22799418)
    my purchase does not "expire". I want to own my music. And if it doesn't expire and I can get unlimited songs, just how expensive would this premium be? I expect it would be significant.
    • Re:As long as (Score:5, Informative)

      by wbav (223901) <Guardian.Bob+Slashdot@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:29PM (#22799500) Homepage Journal
      If you RTFA, the fee Apple is pushing is $20 and you keep the music as long as you keep the device. No word on CDs but I would expect that music would continue to play through iTunes, even if you sold the device.
      • Re:As long as (Score:4, Informative)

        by ahabswhale (1189519) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @05:05PM (#22800018)
        The article is poorly worded but they aren't talking about charging the consumer $20. The $20 is what Apple wants to pay the record companies per device. It's not clear what they have in mind for the consumer. In any event, they aren't getting any bites because Nokia already pays $80 for the same priviledge.

        Mind you, you can already get this feature from Rhapsody To Go for $14.99/mo for unlimited access to ~4.5 million songs. They've had this feature for quite a while now.
      • by eepok (545733)
        And if my device is "general multiple-format multi-media system"? What? My computer, laptop, other computer, MP3 player, and car stereo all exchange information in one way or another. They're networked and connected in one way or another.
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      Not only that, but will indy artists get any cut of that? or just the **AA guys? Apparently they don't share well with artists. I don't see any of this benefiting the people most proclaimed as suffering from music copyright infringement.... the artists.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TaoPhoenix (980487)
        I think Apple is mastering the Boiling Frog theory of sales.

        Right now, the conceptual actions of the **AA are hurting artists by reputation even more than the pure $ effect with their fear campign.

        Once Apple gets a lock on the Flat Fee model, they can work on weird ways to funnel the money to the artists. "Donate your dollar to the artist, save a dollar on an ipod" or something.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blhack (921171)

          "Donate your dollar to the artist, save a dollar on an ipod" or something
          What incentive would apple have to do something like that?

          They're a BUSINESS, not the saviors of the planet.
          They have a duty to their stockholders to maximize their profits.
          If anybody starts a revolution with the music industry, it certainly won't be apple. More than likely it will something like last.fm, imeem.com or the pandora project.
    • Re:As long as (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:32PM (#22799544)

      I want to own my music.
      Then stick to CDs or unencumbered MP3s. The idea of a subscription service is that you keep paying for it to hear all the music you want. You would end up canceling your subscription the moment you downloaded as much music as your hard drive could hold and that would be the end of it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AuMatar (183847)
        Only if no new music comes out that you want. And if that's the case, the problem is with the music industry.
      • by quantaman (517394)

        I want to own my music.
        Then stick to CDs or unencumbered MP3s. The idea of a subscription service is that you keep paying for it to hear all the music you want. You would end up canceling your subscription the moment you downloaded as much music as your hard drive could hold and that would be the end of it.
        Big initial payment, low monthly payment.
    • I think a lot of people wouldn't mind "renting" unlimited music for the right price. Say for $10/month I'd bet most people would be OK paying forever.

      Of course, that would require pretty strict DRM. Apple would have to scrap the whole "rip audio CD" thing, which would be a dealbreaker for me at least.
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Of course, that would require pretty strict DRM. Apple would have to scrap the whole "rip audio CD" thing, which would be a dealbreaker for me at least."

        If Apple would allow me to download lossless music at or better than CD quality, with no DRM, I'd be a customer in a heart beat. I'd happily pay a reasonable price to be able to do what I do now with CD's online. I'd then be free to burn it to CD for backup, and then listen to it at max fidelity on home systems, and re-rip it to lossy formats for environ

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jordyhoyt (1013713)

      I want to own my music.

      What happens when the music you buy turns out to be music you don't actually like all that much? Or maybe after a few years your tastes mature and you don't really like that album you bought so much anymore, what then?
      I own a Zune and gladly pay the bad music insurance [penny-arcade.com] because I know my tastes fluctuate wildly. The freedom to download 20 albums at a time (guilt-free mind you), then scrap the 18 I decide I don't like is, to me, paramount to actually "owning" music I might regret buying.

      • What happens when the music you buy turns out to be music you don't actually like all that much?

        The same thing that happens now when I buy a CD, and it turns out I don't like it. I sell it, give it away, or trash it. So?
      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Or maybe after a few years your tastes mature and you don't really like that album you bought so much anymore, what then? "

        I'd say that was a case of lousy music to begin with??

        Hell, I'd say I STILL like 99% of the stuff I bought when I was growing up and beyond. I've yet to outgrow Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, the Stones, Metallica, Hendrix, Prince, Queen, Eagles, Tinsley Ellis, Yes, Keb Mo, The Who.....

        I guess I mainly only buy music that really hooks me, and I know I'd listen to over and over. I dunno if i

  • As an Ipod owner (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:23PM (#22799426)
    ..who has never paid for any music from iTunes, this is one hook that I would consider biting (besides the hardware I'm already stuck with)
    • As a consumer, I'd love to have a limitless supply of music any time I want it. But this model seems to guarantee the destruction of what little power remains in the hands of artists. Today, a music label makes money from finding talent, marketing them, getting their music published, etc. Yes, they rip off said talent, and yes, they often find one hit wonder pop crap. But, having said that, it at least provides a model where artists get paid in proportion to the how much music they sell and, theoretical
  • Free? (Score:5, Funny)

    by flynt (248848) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:24PM (#22799434)
    "free access to its entire iTunes music library in exchange for paying"

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
  • by Higaran (835598)
    But I don't know if it will fly, but then again, with a proper payment model to the record labels I think they may take it. I could see them say yes to having a song or album put into the unlimited use catagory once it is 6 months or a year old or something like that. I don't see them agreeing to this with new releases since that kind of is their bread & butter, find the next big thing, sell the krap out of it and move on. Apple is a big player in the music industry but I don't think they have enough
  • by nebaz (453974) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:27PM (#22799474)
    The real question is not whether the big music companies will go for it, but rather, who will be the first to one get smart and agree to offer it?

    I disagree. Big companies still supply the music. The ITunes store would go out of business overnight of all of the labels pulled their songs from it. There are still some indie bands out there, but in terms of sheer scale, the big companies still hold many of the cards. Granted, it would be foolish of them to cut up a revenue stream, but the big companies still have the product to sell, and their input should not be dismissed.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:28PM (#22799488)
    I will NEVER give any one company the power to switch off my entire music or movie collection with the push of a button, or because of a computer error, or because their company went bankrupt or got sold.
    • by sunking2 (521698)
      Yah, cuz without my music I'd be nothing! You can have my music when you pry it from my cold dead hands!
    • by businessnerd (1009815) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @05:00PM (#22799936)
      If you had read the article, then you would know that what Apple is proposing, is unlimited physical downloads that never expire. That means they cannot switch off your access, and if your hard drive crashed and killed everything on it, you could simply re-download your whole collection. If the company went bankrupt or sold, then as long as you still have the software or the device that can play the file format, then you are fine. This is not the same as other subscription services like Napster.
      • by Hatta (162192)
        As long as you still have to ask Apple permission to play your DRM'd files, they can switch off your access.
        • by 2nd Post! (213333)
          It is a good thing then that Apple is such a strong proponent of DRM-free music. Now we just have to wait for all the music in the iTunes store to be DRM free...
    • Of course, I mean you would be paying a $20 price premium on your ipod to have all the music you could ever want.. Why would those greedy bastards want to pull the plug if I get a new player, and make me pay a whopping $20 again!?!?!
    • by vertinox (846076)
      I will NEVER give any one company the power to switch off my entire music or movie collection with the push of a button, or because of a computer error, or because their company went bankrupt or got sold.

      I dunno. I like the way Netflix works and I could see the same for music because there is a lot of movies I know I might like but I haven't seen them so I don't know if its worth the purchase.

      So if I watch a DVD that I got from netflix that I really liked, I could go out and buy it if I wanted to add to my
    • by Jonny_eh (765306)
      With a subscription model, look at it like you're renting music every month. In that case, I could care less about DRM, as long as it worked.

      Do you get pissed off when you have to return a DVD to netflix or Blockbuster?

      You should only expect DRM free if you actually BUY the music. But if you in fact get DRM free with a subscription, that's great too!
  • "Getting it"? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rrohbeck (944847) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:28PM (#22799492)
    You can use that term when they have DRM free content.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 7Prime (871679)
      Amen... sounds like the writer of the artical was paid to say that. There's nothing to "get" people aren't asking for this. In fact, iTMS, as it stands, is a pretty great model right now, all they need to do is get more companies on board with the DRM-free scheme.
  • by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:30PM (#22799512) Journal
    We've all seen this before, and it doesn't work. Nobody wants to pay for all you can eat when it isn't. If you are paying monthly for permanent access to their entire library going forward, lets talk. I'd pay 100 bucks for that.
    But to pay 100 bucks to use it "unlimited" as long as you are DRM'd? No thanks.
    • From the article: "It would allow downloading of any song at any time so long as the purchaser still owns the device, and the songs would be yours to keep."

      If they are really yours to keep then I'm not sure it's such a bad deal. At the very least it's just another choice people have.
    • by Cheesey (70139) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:49PM (#22799784)
      Yeah, Napster [napster.co.uk] offers this service already. For £10/month you get unlimited access to their song library - so long as you don't mind the Windows Media DRM and total lack of support for non-Windows platforms. So Apple shouldn't have too much difficulty in their negotiations, since Napster has already paved the way. It'll be the same service, plus support for Macs and iPods. This is hardly a revolutionary new idea.

      With this kind of service, DRM is a big turnoff. But I am not sure how this service could possibly be offered without DRM. The need for a special client program is also a turnoff: why not just provide the catalogue on a website and rely on the media player for DRM authentication?
    • by Carthag (643047)
      I could part with a hundred bobs for unlimted access to the iTunes store, that's chump change.

      Who cares if it's DRMed? It's not like Apple is going under, and for a one-time fee of 100 dollars, I wouldn't have to buy any other music (aside from the stuff I would want to truly own, without DRM, which isn't that much).

      This is all ridiculously academic, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      "We've all seen this before, and it doesn't work. Nobody wants to pay for all you can eat when it isn't. "

      a.) There are two million 'nobodies' subscribed to Rhapsody right now.

      b.) Cable/Satellite TV already uses that model, only it's not on-demand. Not only is that successful, but they're throwing ads on top of it! Heh.

      The big problem with it isn't the business model, it's getting people to wrap their heads around the idea that it's not the same as iTunes. Music subscription isn't a music store, it's an
  • What?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:30PM (#22799514) Homepage
    "Finally, it looks like the industry (or at least Apple) is 'getting it'"

    Apple has the most successful internet music distribution system available. From the millions of iPods sold to the billions of songs sold on iTunes. And needless to say, everyone else who has tried the "all you can eat" music pricing model has failed.

    So please inform me exactly what Apple is finally getting! Thanks. I won't be holding my breath.
    • by jandrese (485)
      Maybe they're going to try an "all you can eat" model with a music selection that doesn't completely suck?
    • by richmaine (128733)
      Amen. I personally *FAR* prefer Apple's current model. Objective data (sales) suggests that I'm not the only one.

      With the current model, I buy just what I want and then I have it forever. Yes, even if Apple goes out of business or otherwise changes their mind.

      Even Apple's current DRM'ed stuff has a far less painful DRM than any other I've seen. I haven't actually ever wanted to do anything with it that I wasn't allowed to do. Plus Apple allows you to burn to a completely un-DRM'ed cd. No DRM at all would be
    • Re:What?! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by *weasel (174362) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @05:41PM (#22800418)
      Given that Apple doesn't talk about things like this, if they are in negotiations with the record companies then it must be the record companies who are leaking this information.

      Which is probably why the rumors are heavy on the fairy-tale customer-facing product and the investor-pleasing record-company-facing revenues, and really light on the implicit restrictions and technical questions. I'd imagine the RIAA simply figured out that while $x/mo doesn't work for consumers, "$Y for as long as you own the device" does. (even when device turnover rates are used to ensure mathematical equivalence)

      The only thing Apple seems to be 'getting', is pushed by the record companies to offer some of those seductive 'recurring revenues' that Napster/MS/et al keep promising.
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:30PM (#22799518) Homepage Journal
    that got dropped out of the summary, "may". Its still rumor at this point, maybe you shouldn't be trying to pass it off as fact.
    • While the article summaries here often leave a lot to be desired, let's give credit when it's due.

      The article:

      A report by the Financial Times (registration required) cites unnamed executives who say that Apple is in talks with record labels to offer access to the entire iTunes music library for a lump sum price.

      The summary:

      Apple is in discussions with the big music companies about an 'all you can eat' model for buying music that would give customers free access to its entire iTunes music library in exc

  • by ruin20 (1242396) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:31PM (#22799532)
    Although this seems to go against what is mentioned in the article, techdirt broke this story about six hours ago. From their site http://techdirt.com/articles/20080319/015959582.shtml [techdirt.com] :

    While this would get a lot of attention, you only get access to the music for the lifetime of the device or subscription (if you didn't pay a lump sum). While there's a small concession that you'd get to keep 40 to 50 songs after the device died or the subscription ended, you'd lose the rest of the songs. In other words, despite Steve Jobs' supposed dislike for DRM, this music would be quite DRM'd. Limited subscription plans have been around for ages and they've never gone very far because of those limitations. People know better by now, and so should Steve Jobs.
    • by argent (18001)
      Yeh, I can't imagine this happening without DRM... this would basically be a subscription model. Not only that, but they'd have to add additional restrictions to iTunes to prevent people from burning (or possibly even playing) the music. I really don't think this would be a good thing, over all, it would mean a serious reversion of Apple's DRM policy.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yeh, I can't imagine this happening without DRM...

        I can.

        To beat piracy, you must provide better service, not worse. As long as there are Flac torrents out there, I will never buy DRM'd AACs. But when I do find a band I like selling Flac downloads, I buy them.

        Understand, DVDs almost do not count anymore, as CSS has been braken everywhere for years, and every new scheme is more desperate and futile than the last -- yet NetFlix still makes money. If Apple provided this service without the DRM, they would st

    • by Otter (3800)
      The two articles seem to agree, or at least not disagree: the iPhone-only service would be subscription-based, while the iPod/iPhone would be ownership with DRM'd files.

      (I will commend you for having read two articles, which is two more than any other posters seem to have looked at!)

    • Techdirt didn't "break" this story. Neither did ArsTechnica. The FT did. Both articles cite the FT, so why can't Slashdot?

      This is the real reason newspapers are dying: fucking blogs take a story, add a few sentences of pithy commentary, and other fucking blogs cite the blog instead of the original source.

      Oh, and in case you're wondering whether the "40 to 50 songs" detail was original reporting -- no, it wasn't.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:32PM (#22799552)
    WTF are they talking about?
  • ...would this add to the price of the iPod?
  • I only pay a monthly fee for broadband, which allows me unfettered access to ANY song I could ever hope to have... I have yet to see any DRM on it either!
    • by Infonaut (96956)

      I only pay a monthly fee for broadband, which allows me unfettered access to ANY song I could ever hope to have... I have yet to see any DRM on it either!

      Can you take your broadband with you on the bus, in your car, taking a walk, on a plane, to a friend's house, or to the office?

      • by morari (1080535)
        No, but I can put the byproduct on lower priced, large capacity media players than anything Apple pushes.
    • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:52PM (#22799830)

      I only pay a monthly fee for broadband, which allows me unfettered access to ANY song I could ever hope to have... I have yet to see any DRM on it either!

      So, you don't have Comcast?

  • by iamhigh (1252742)

    Then the owner can make unlimited music downloads from the iTunes Store for the life of the device. Once downloaded, the tracks are yours to keep, even if you get rid of the original iPod or iPhone.

    Crap. There is NO WAY record labels are going to let me download and keep forever every song I want. Wouldn't this bankrupt the music industry??? I buy an ipod for $200 and for the next 5-10 years I get free music? This must be only for playing on portable devices, ONLY. If they let you burn this to CD, it will never work.

  • Since the average iPod owner buys about 20 tracks from the iTunes, Apple wants to make the premium about $20, arguing that it should cover the average consumer's downloads.

    I think this is a bit naive (and I don't think it's Steve Jobs): people tend to eat more at a smorgasbord than if they have to pay for each entree, and this effect would be even greater when they have room for thousands of entrees in their digital stomachs. :)
    • this effect would be even greater when they have room for thousands of entrees in their digital stomachs. :)

      Not at all!!! Most of my friends only download 10 or so songs from iTunes.

      They usually buy cd's at Musicland or FMV and rip them to iTunes.

      They would still pay the $20 a month fee just in case Brittany Spears, Nickleback, and Metallica release new albums all in the same month.

      They never use myTunes, and love DRM because it's the only fair thing for consumers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drtsystems (775462)
      Except think of it from their point of view: unlike an all-you-can-eat buffet which the more you eat the more it costs the restaurant, digital downloads of songs already paid to record and produce cost (near) nothing (sure there are bandwidth costs but that is fractions of pennies per song). So as long as Apple/the music companies make the surcharge more than the average amount of songs downloaded per ipod, they are making money. So everyone downloads 50 gigs of music for their ipod... so what? Then apple
    • by vux984 (928602)
      people tend to eat more at a smorgasbord than if they have to pay for each entree, and this effect would be even greater when they have room for thousands of entrees in their digital stomachs. :)

      Right, but think of it this way:

      Its like PPV TV, right now you pay per show you watch. Suppose the average person with PPV service buys 6 movies. And the network broadcasts the movie in a timeslot regardless of how many people 'buy it'.

      So the costs of providing ppv is fixed. It costs the same to broadcast the movie
  • And I'm not about to start now, even under an unlimited option. About a year ago I realized I have pretty much all the old(er) music I ever wanted, starting with classical and ending with happy hardcore, and all of it in mp3 or flac. At this point I actually started replacing the lower quality mp3s with flac, just for the hell of it. :) Given the slashdot audience, I'm sure there are many in my position.

    And there are much better sources for new, independent music than iTunes, where the money goes straight t
    • by Tink2000 (524407)
      It's still DRM music

      Yep, sure shows you don't use ITMS. Nice jeorb there.

      Your completely anectdotal post? Not so much.
  • Sweetness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ChinggisK (1133009) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @04:52PM (#22799824)
    I never saw the big deal about not "owning" your music. As long as I get to listen to the music I want to when I want to, I don't care who owns or doesn't own it, so I'm perfectly happy with my unlimited subscription to Napster. That's the one thing that's always kept me from buying an iPod- I like to be legal about things, but I don't want to pay $.99 a song to do it. If they were to offer a subscription or even a one-time pay $100-$200 thing for unlimited music forever, I know I'd be all over that, and I'd be purchasing my very first Apple product.
    • by MsGeek (162936)
      Heh. I have Zappa in MY iTunes.

      The trick to that is to own the CD. Used CDs work just as well as new ones, and mean that the RIAA get exactly jack and shit from your pocket. Then rip, mix, download to your iPod...bliss.

      I also have The Beatles in MY iTunes as well. Same deal.

      The only thing I get from the iTunes store is podcasts. For free. Bwahahaha. If there is a song I am itching to get, and I can't find the CD at Second Spin or Amoeba Records in Hollywood, then maybe I'll break down and buy it from the iT
  • Sure, Apple and the Big record labels stand to make a killing from plans like these but how exactly do the Musicians get payed? You know, the people who make the music. Musicians already make next to nothing on the $0.99 you pay to download a track off of iTunes. Downloading isn't killing music. Greedy record labels are killing music.
  • by kuwan (443684) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @05:00PM (#22799942) Homepage
    The other side to this that News.com is reporting [news.com] is that the music industry feels entitled to a cut of iPod sales. The key piece from that article is as follows:

    At this stage in the game, the music industry feels it is entitled to something.

    Entitled to something!? Are you kidding me? Entitled to a middle finger up their ass maybe. Certainly not entitled to stealing the profits of another company's successful product.

    I'm not sure it's Apple that's thinking about this but rather the Music companies trying to push this on Apple. What they'd really want is a monthly fee from you every month of every year for the rest of your life. Oh and if you decide to stop paying, well then you're shit out of luck. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick with paying for the music I want once and keeping it forever.
  • I buy my music on CD and rip to 256Kbps AAC. I don't buy music from iTunes, and I see no reason why I should pay even more for an iPod than I normally would in order to cover a RIAA tax.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Higaran (835598)
      I hate to say this because I know it sounds kind of bad, but it's because then you'd be a sucker, and your only buying in ipod just for the sake of having an ipod. If your doing it that way, then buy a diffrent mp3 play and don't pay as much riaa tax.
  • Quite honestly, its why I have a Zune, I want the freedom to not care about what I'm downloading. I go to get a song there may be 4 versions of it plus a half dozen live ones, what the hell, grab them all and decide later which ones I want to delete from it. I'd agonize endlessly over each purchase if I did it in any other way. I've already calculated, despite paying the $14.95 monthly fee for about a year and a half now i'm way way way ahead paying for it this way given the amount I've grabbed without w
  • This Wouldn't Work (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DigitalisAkujin (846133) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @05:05PM (#22800014) Homepage
    What would stop me from getting an unlimited account for one month, downloading the entire iTunes catalog, and then canceling the service?

    Even if they DRM the music I can still stream rip it. I mean after all, the data still has to be transmitted to me and stored on an iPod somehow.
  • I can't wait to find out who will claim this violates their "unlimited music distribution model" patent.

    It's just a matter of time.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @05:42PM (#22800432)
    The music labels already don't care very much for Apple and its iPod + iTunes monopoly. They are losing control of paid distribution (never mind P2P) to their new gatekeeper and key master, Steve Jobs. The following quote is excerpted from an article posted earlier today, How Apple Got Everything Right By Doing Everything Wrong [wired.com]

    But not everyone sees Apple's all-or-nothing approach in such benign terms. The music and film industries, in particular, worry that Jobs has become a gatekeeper for all digital content. Doug Morris, CEO of Universal Music, has accused iTunes of leaving labels powerless to negotiate with it. (Ironically, it was the labels themselves that insisted on the DRM that confines iTunes purchases to the iPod, and that they now protest.) "Apple has destroyed the music business," NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker told an audience at Syracuse University. "If we don't take control on the video side, [they'll] do the same." At a media business conference held during the early days of the Hollywood writers' strike, Michael Eisner argued that Apple was the union's real enemy: "[The studios] make deals with Steve Jobs, who takes them to the cleaners. They make all these kinds of things, and who's making money? Apple!"

    The labels have already locked themselves into Steve's golden iHandcuffs with DRM on the iPod + iTunes platform with fixed price songs so they will be very careful before they give over even more power to Apple to run their business, or what is left of it anyway. I do not see them agreeing to a monthly subscription for the entire iTunes catalogs, such a move would signal complete and utter desperation on the part of the music labels.
  • by steveha (103154) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @05:51PM (#22800530) Homepage
    Rhapsody is an all-you-can-eat music service. I have Rhapsody and I love it.

    Rhapsody costs $12-$15 a month (depending on your options), and you can listen to the music as long as you keep paying the monthly fee. If Apple can actually talk the big labels into granting unlimited lifetime downloads of music, that you can keep, for $20... I'll be stunned. That's a huge value there. Even at $80 that's a huge value.

    I could see the labels going for a $20-per-iPod tax, maybe. I can't see them going for a special model that costs $20 extra. You just know that anyone who buys the $20 extra model is going to actually use the service. Maybe the statistics show that currently the average customer buys $20 worth of songs, but this all-you-can-eat plan slices away any future chance of that dollar amount going up. We're talking about an industry that is pricing CDs at $20... can Apple really get them to do this?

    P.S. If you have never tried an all-you-can-eat music service, I suggest you try the two-week free trial for Rhapsody. You will probably see the appeal. It's easy and fun to find new music. Sometimes I don't make up my mind whether I like something until I play it all the way through a few times; it's nice to be able to do that.

    http://learn.rhapsody.com/ [rhapsody.com]

    Disclaimer: I don't work for Rhapsody but I do work for the company that owns it.

    steveha
  • Just use Amazon's service.

    You own what you buy, no DRM too. And it's relatively cheaper.
  • by ObjetDart (700355) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @06:02PM (#22800716)
    Years ago EMusic had an unlimited download model. It almost destroyed them.

    The problem is that once you make it unlimited, a small but not insignificant percentage of users will immediately attempt to download the entire iTunes library. Hey, disk space is cheap, why not try, if there's no additional charge per track?

    The only way this might work is if Apple doesn't have to pay even 1 cent to the record companies per download for people who download tracks under the unlimited plan. At least that way their only cost bandwidth.

  • by dstone (191334) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @06:03PM (#22800732) Homepage
    Playing this out to its logical (but not necessarily intended or ethical) conclusion in Canada...

    1. The Canadian Copyright Act allows one to make a copy, for personal use, of someone else's music.
    2. There is no DMCA equivalent to prevent the breaking of DRM in Canada.
    3. For the cost of an iPod plus the $20 Apple buffet fee, a single pioneering Canuck could download infinite iTunes.
    4. The other 31,000,000 Canadians could leech his entire music collection for free.

    The true North, strong and free. Free as in Apple Hefeweizen.
  • Getting what? I've never seen any outcry for any service such as this. I think it sounds downright horrid. Not to mention every other subscription service has failed misserably. I chose iTunes specifically because they stayed away from this kinda corporate bullshit.

    There's no "listening" going on, this is all internal ideas, and they're not going to benefit anyone but the music corporations and Apple. Be careful what you wish for...
  • by msimm (580077) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @06:07PM (#22800764) Homepage
    Does anyone else remember when eMusic offered a flat-rate all-you-can-eat service? I found myself listening to a huge variety of music I'd ordinarily avoid, like jazz and blues. It's a very nice way to sample a lot of music and honestly a 30 second clip *is not* a reliable way to review unfamiliar music (or genres).

  • by yoha (249396) on Wednesday March 19, 2008 @07:26PM (#22801530)
    Everyone commenting on this thread should state whether they have downloaded music or movie content, within the last 30 days, from a source not authorized by the producer of the content. This disclosure should be made without qualifications or caveats (i.e. "I only downloaded it to sample" or "I intend to buy it later" still count as unauthorized d/l's).

    It's just my hunch, but the free as in freedom or beer advocates are just worried about paying for something that they used to get with a five finger discount.

    My disclosure: I have not downloaded content from an unauthorized source.

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