If, according to industry heavyweights such as Rick Rubin, music subscription services are the future, why is that Yahoo Music is closing down its subscription-based offering?
The AP reports that subscribers to Yahoo Music Unlimited are to be transfered to Real Networks and Viacom’s Rhapsody America service during the first half of this year. “Yahoo subscribers’ music library and payment plans will remain the same for a limited time after the switch, but those wishing to remain on Rhapsody eventually will be required to sign up at Rhapsody’s rates.”
The catch? Yahoo’s subscription rate was as low as $5.99 a month for users willing to pay for a full year in advance, compared with Rhapsody’s $12.99 a month.
Subscription-based music services have proven to be a tough sell to consumers as it’s not clear that people are yet ready to ‘rent’ their music collections instead of owning them. Virgin Digital closed last year, MTV’s Urge merged with Real Networks’ Rhapsody, and Napster is attempting to reinvent itself once again, deemphasizing subscriptions in favor of DRM-free downloads. In contrast, however, mobile music services are rocking the subscription model like never before e.g. Vodafone-supported MusicStation and Nokia’s ‘Comes With Music’.
If consumers won’t adopt subscription-based music offerings voluntarily, then what’s the recording industry’s answer? Make them compulsory. Yes, I’m talking about the so-called ‘music tax’ idea, most recently talked up by U2’s manager, Paul McGuinness.
Also see: Digital music: 2007 year in review