Thursday, October 13, 2005

My life is a subscription, so why can't my music be one as well?

Let's first define subscription for the context of this blog: An agreement to receive or be given access to goods or services for a specified period of time, or for a series of consecutive terms.

I subscribe to pretty much everything: Phone (landline and cellular), electricity, water, Satellite TV, Tivo, Satellite Radio, Cable ISP, newspaper, magazines, fantasy football tips (not doing me much good though), etc. My life (or is it my body?) is pretty much just a subscription.

Even gasoline is a form of subscription. Think about it: you can't use your car unless you pay for gas, and how many people wouldn't jump at the opportunity (especially right now) to pay a flat-rate monthly fee for gasoline? I know I would. So, all other car mechanical items aside, my world would allow me to drive my car as much (and as far) as I'd like to, with no incremental cost (above my monthly subscription fee) for gasoline.

I'm trying to draw an analogy between driving cars and listening to music, though it isn't perfect, because my mp3 player is not exactly the same as my car. For one thing, there is no 'free' gasoline alternative as there is with music. But suppose there was. Suppose you could acquire gasoline via Black Market for free or really cheaply, but every time you did it you were breaking the law and taking a risk of getting caught. If an alternative to this was a Gasoline Subscription, that was reasonably priced, then this hypothetical world would fill in the missing pieces to my analogy, and provide the basis for better getting my point across. So, back to the point: my car (/mp3 player) may look good, and have all kinds of great features, but it is severely limited in its functionality w/out fuel (/content), which I have to continually purchase. Gasoline (/music) gets me from Point A to Point B via my vehicle (/player). My consumption of fuel is similar to my consumption of music. They both take me a certain distance, and once consumed need to be replenished in order to go further. Though we'll never see a Unlimited Gasoline Subscription offer (perhaps there will be an unlimited electricty subscription offer someday though), there are Unlimited Music Subscriptions available right now. I just-so-happen to work for a company that offers this very service: Napster.

Why should you prefer having access to every song vs. purchasing music on a case-by-case basis, or breaking the law and pirating music off the Net? If you're like me, then you don't want to pay every time you want to consume music. I love music, and listen to a wide variety of artists and genres. As is true for everybody, my mood determines my music preferences at any given time. Every now and then, I'm in the mood for music that I listened to during my high school or college years. I definitely don't need to own that music...I just want to listen to it for an hour or so (to get me from Point A to Point B). I also like to listen to many of the Tuesday new releases to keep my options fresh.

The Napster music subscription provides this: A 'key to the door of the music vault' for a reasonable flat-rate monthly fee. You can have any song, at any time, and you don't have to buy it to consume it. Listen at home. Listen at work. Listen in your car. Listen while you take walks or run. Listen while you exercise. Listen while you party. Listen while you sleep.

Have your cake. Eat your cake. But don't buy your cake.
What's your thought?

Next up: Apple's subscription model: Just because you're buying, doesn't mean it's not a rental -- yes, you will have to buy it again.