When Virgin Media, a UK Internet service provider, and Universal Music Group announced their plan to launch a music subscription service, the recording industry took major, positive steps in a new direction. The new service will feature UMG content, will offer DRM-free downloads and unlimited streaming and will be available to all Virgin Media customers.
Ultimately, for the industry, this means a new era in how music is packaged, bundled and priced. It is a step away from the traditional manner of pricing music per transaction. Flat-fee pricing has existed for streaming services but is foreign to downloads. (eMusic is the obvious exception, but it only recently announced plans to add Sony catalog and will offer only titles two years or older.) If “music as a service” is ever going to be a reality, this type of subscription service is a good first step. In its current incarnation, the service is far from perfect, however, and its future is clouded by a number of unknown factors.
read the wins, downsides, and unknown by Glenn Peoples