Wednesday, March 19, 2008

All you can Eat Music

Apple through its iTunes and Nokia through its "Comes with music deal" are preparing to offer unlimited access to the major music companies catalogues through monthly subscription plans. See today's report in the Financial Times. Such services would be pitched at the $7-8 per month level, with Apple apparently needing a large slice of the revenue (this we understand is Apple's style).

I wonder if this will work for music? I wonder if it would work for those of us with non-mainstream interests? Surely premium music would elude this framework? One can al least think about such a scheme in the case of music since the 4 majors control a large part of the recorded music pie. Book publishing is incredibly much more fragmented (also by language), so it is scarcely conceivable that a technology platform could negotiate a global rights pie with umpteen different major print publishers.

Mind you its an idea which might be attractive to some. Would such an over-arching subscription scheme be one way for Google to negotiate a settlement with the publishers and author's societies which are opposing its Google Book Search project? Google would then need to start charging subscriptions for full access to the in-copyright resources in its database.

If this is to be the Google digital books charging model, I would guess that the other players in the market have some years in which to test alternative approaches. Which is what we are doing with the Open Searching/Subscription Content Reading offering that we this week launch for Berkshire Publishing.


PersonaNonData said...

Hopefully we are moving towards a more logical model for online music content (and more perhaps); however, there was an element of this announcement that I found bizare which was that the user wouldn't own all the content they downloaded. They would own some subset but there was a suggestion that they would be limited to a maximum amount of downloaded content. There will be some arguments at the publisher why this needs to be but as the average consumer of music this turns me off. Personnally, I would sign-up tomorrow for a $9.99/mth ITunes contract if just like I own the CD I would own the music I downloaded.

Adam Hodgkin said...

The lawyer in me has to say: you own the CD but you dont own the music on it. Of course, the music industry completely fell into the hole that it dug for itself, and downloads are now expected. Nay demanded. I bet the music industry bigwigs now wish that they had had the foresight to turn the jukebox into the mode for web delivery, not the SonyWalkman. But they are stuck with a Walkman/iTunes model for consumer satisfaction. Somehow personal libraries are going to have to be made to work in music....