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Execs: Future of music is subscription

updated 09:40 am EDT, Mon September 3, 2007

Execs: Future of music

Rick Rubin, founder of Def Jam Recordings and now co-head of Columbia Records, is arguing that the future of music sales lies in a direction beyond the iPod and iTunes. In his conception, people would pay for subscriptions, but with more generous options than available on the likes of Napster. "You'd pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come anywhere you'd like," he says. "In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cellphone, from your computer, from your television. Anywhere. The iPod will be obsolete, but there would be a Walkman-like device you could plug into speakers at home."

"You'll say, 'Today I want to listen to...Simon and Garfunkel,' and there they are. The service can have demos, bootlegs, concerts, whatever context the artist wants to put out. And once that model is put into place, the industry will grow 10 times the size it is now."

Commenting on the issue, Dreamworks SKG co-founder David Geffen praises Apple's involvement in the music industry, while criticing his peers, noting that many music executives dictate too much to their customers. "[Apple CEO] Steve Jobs understood Napster [the P2P software] better than the record business did. iPods made it easy for people to share music, and Apple took a big percentage of the business that once belonged to the record companies. The subscription model is the only way to save the music business," Geffen contends. "If music is easily available at a price of five or six dollars a month, then nobody will steal it."

The New York Times observes though that some in business oppose subscriptions, for the same reason they oppose the iTunes Store. Tracks by Justin Timberlake and Al Jolson both cost the same amount on iTunes, an equality which the critics say robs them of millions of dollars. Similarly, charging a single fee for subscriptions would eliminate the profits of premium fees, and require a sharing of acts traditionally used as competitive advantages.

"There would have to be a new economic plan," Geffen says. "And it would have to be equitable, depending on the popularity of the artists."

by MacNN Staff





  1. MasterPflow

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wishful thinking, Rick

    Most people have collected their own library of individual downloads at this point (like me). Why would I want to pay a monthly fee in perpetuity to listen to songs that I already have? As for new songs, I much prefer buying the individual song and keeping it in my library for quick and easy access. Rick is out of step with the majority of today's audiophiles. The subscription model is too little, too late.

  1. ruperts

    Joined: Dec 1969


    i don't think so

    the only music I listen to that does not belong to me, is music coming out of LastFM or an FM radio station. In fact, I'd prefer to subscribe to such a service than having to manage the hassle of downloading music that will expire at some point in time.

    The only area I can see a benefit for myself with the subscription model is for movies, since I'm used to renting films for a limited period and it has never bothered that I don't own the movies. In fact, I'd prefer to have a big dynamic choice of movies than a big static movie library.

    Mr. Rubin's logic is that of a music exec and not that of the consumer.

  1. sdf

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No ****ing way!

    There's no way I'm spending $20/month on music just so I can listen to whatever I want. First, the music industry doesn't produce 20 tracks I want per month. Secondly, I have much better things to spend $20 on in a given month.

  1. flec65

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Equitable? Really?

    Equitable for them but not for the consumers. All these execs want is that consumers don't own their content. They want total control on how they charge for that content and the possibility to change the subscription policies at will. They don't have any of these with the iTunes Store and I thank Apple every day for that. I totally agree with masterplow (1st post), I want to own the content and access it the way I want.

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Umm, how about...

    "The Walkman will be obsolete, but there would be a iPod-like device you could plug into speakers at home."

  1. Guest

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wishful thinking

    Mr. Rubin is just "Wishing" that the industry will go that way, but as all the people before me have said. It just wont happened, specially if one cant lisen to the music if stop monthly payments.


  1. horvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    NO!!!! I want to own not

    No, I want to own my music not rent it!! That's why Napster isn't working you idiot!! People don't like subscriptions because then they don't have any control over what they can do with the music they have. $20 a month is TO EXPENSIVE!!!!

  1. ricardogf

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Rubins and Geffens

    So the guys who want to control access to information and music now come up with this bullshit? So what is the difference between a "walkman" and an "iPod"? The "Rubins", the "Geffens" and the "Bronfmans" are only there to rip you off; but we won't let them if we are wise.

  1. nhmlco

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Whose Business

    "Apple took a big percentage of the business that once belonged to the record companies."

    Uh, no. Apple is a retailer who, just like Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon, sells the content produced by the industry.

  1. chas_m



    Put down the crack pipe


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