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Zune Pass adds 10 permanent monthly tracks

updated 07:55 am EST, Thu November 20, 2008

Zune Pass Keeps Ten Tracks

Microsoft on Thursday gave its Zune Pass feature an upgrade by letting owners keep ten of the songs they download each month as part of the unlimited subscription service. The plan includes music from all four major labels as well as independents such as Arts & Crafts or Ghostly International and doesn't require any alterations to the $15 monthly subscription rate or to the choice of format for music, which can include either unprotected MP3s or the proprietary, locked Zune format.

Music from Sony and Universal is also being sold in MP3 form at the same time and should result in 90 percent of Zune Marketplace songs being available without copy protection, Microsoft adds.

Such mixed plans aren't new but are increasing in popularity with services such as Nokia's Comes With Music and are seen by the music industry as a potential solution to falling sales at some services. Both Microsoft's and Nokia's plans try to mitigate the fears of being locked out of music after canceling a subscription while still providing some of the advantages of unlimited access, such as being able to download the same tracks as friends or to subscribe to curated playlists like Zune Channels.

Apple has been historically resistant to unlimited plans and saw its company chief Steve Jobs famously criticize them for pushing users to "rent" music and distort the ownership experience. However, the addition of a partly permanent option is relatively new to the industry and has yet to be tested on a larger scale.

by MacNN Staff



  1. simdude

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not a bad deal

    I never liked the subscription approach, but with the 10 songs/month, this is a pretty decent model now. It's still a little more than the 99 cent songs in iTunes, but not much more and you can load up the player with tons of music each month.

    I've always been pretty critical of the Zune and gave my sister a hard time when she bought one for her daughter a month ago, but after spending some time playing with it and seeing this new service it doesn't suck as much as I thought. I don't ever see myself switching because I'm so heavily invested in iTunes music now, but for people that don't have a lot of DRM iTunes stuff I don't know if I will criticize so quickly. Of course, I think all of this is irrelevant for mac users as I don't believe there is a mac interface.

    Has anyone else used these Zunes long term and have more experience with reliability/usefulness etc? they still don't look as nice as the nano or iTouch of course.

  1. CT Mac User

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Pass on Zune

    I think they mean pass on the zune don't they?

  1. davincij

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Great Service

    I've been a long time iPod user. I've owned the 1st ipod with the physically turning wheel, a 20gb 2nd gen iPod, 1st and 2nd Gen Nanos, a Touch and a Classic. I finally decided to give the Zune a try and I love it. I think the player's interface is great and the service is awesome. I really expected it to suck but I was pleasanty surprised.

  1. lamewing

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Me too

    I also have owned several iPods (1st gen 5gb, 2nd gen 20gb, 4th gen 20gb, photo 60gb, 5.5 30gb, 5.5 80gb, mini 4gb, nano 1st gen - wow!!!)

    I did try the first gen Zune and the newer versions. Overall I like the hardware, but the only thing the truly kept me away is MS close-minded, ethnocentric point-of-view. MS REFUSES to add East Asian font support on their hardware (only 4 or 5 files) as they feel people don't listen to East Asian music in the U.S.

    Riiiiiiight. I have been studying Japanese for 2 years and 90% of my music is in kana and kanji. This support is the main reason I have stayed with the iPod.

  1. dpicardi

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Overall the Zune pass

    sounds like a decent deal. I would be much more inclined to pay $5/month for limited (say 200-300) dls and 2-3 songs I can keep. I think Apple would be able to sell this model all day.

    $15/month is a little to steep in this economy...even though I can see the value of it.

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