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iTunes Pass: A Subscription Model

February 25, 2009

Many people believe that the future of music will somehow be subscription based. Either through something like Spotify, or through an ISP subscription, or through the artists themselves.

Recently that world got a little close to reality, as iTunes has teamed up with Depeshe Mode (!?) to release the first of many micro-subscriptions.

For fans who still want to buy the album, they can now pay a flat fee ($19) prior to the albums release and receive “new, exclusive singles, remixes, videos and other content.” That extra content shows up for the fifteen weeks ending June 16, and fans get the album on its official April 21 release date.

The idea being that this exclusive content has the the early edge on torrents and file traders, and therefore has more value then an album that’s released and quickly spread around the net.

This is a cool idea and definitely a step in the right direction but I wonder how big an artist based subscription model can get?

I guess if you loved Depeshe Mode, or NIN, or whomever, most hardcore fans would pay the fee to get new music and exclusive content, but isn’t the idea of exclusive content outdated? With fans sharing music so quickly, what’s to stop the fans signed up to the iTunes Pass from uploading the new tracks as soon as they get them?

Yet iTunes isn’t the only company who is in on this artist subscription model. The Republic Project offers a  model where fans pay to see bands in the studio on HD Cameras, making the album, providing tour diaries, participating in chats, etc. But still my question is: Why make fans pay for this exclusive content?

If the name of the game is getting anyone to listen to your music, why put constraints on your music/videos which would only help to increase your fanbase? I hear you saying that these bands already have large enough fanbases to sustain these sort of actions. But last I checked Depeshe Mode was not a huge band. Don’t they want to expand their fanbase?

The iTunes Pass is a cool idea and kudos to both Depeshe Mode and iTunes for trying it, but still, it is a drop in the bucket that is the modern music world.

Yet as I write this I hear the word niche pop up in my head, and I can’t help but think that maybe the bucket doesn’t really exist anymore and maybe bands simply need to fill their own cup, so to speak, to make a worthwhile career.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. atulsworld permalink
    February 27, 2009 5:07 pm

    iTunes is a monopoly and the bottom line is that musicians now have to make money “because” of their music not “from” their music direct. Yup, I am a musician too and believe in giving everything away for free. If someone likes my band enough they will find a way of funding/paying us.

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