iTunes Rumored to Launch Subscription Model – Finally!

I read today on the ListeningPost about rumors that iTunes is planning to launch an unlimited music subscription service in late October with the release of iTunes 7.8.  It’s reported the annual subscription fee will be $130/year (or $100 for MobileMe subscribers) and will give users the ability to download to nearly half of all the songs in the iTunes store in a 256-Kbps format.  The other half apparently will require a new deal with copyright holders.

It sounds like the model will operate similar to Rhapsody.  Subscription songs would be playable in iTunes and would be transportable and playable on certain devices – namely the iPod and iPhone.  According to the tipster, when you log on to iTunes, you will get the option to ‘Buy’ (purchase and keep) or ‘Get’ your music (download and Play throughout iTunes Unlimited Subscription).

Hooray for Apple for taking a step in the right direction. I’ve long been a proponent of the subscription-based music model and a huge fan of services like Rhapsody.  It just makes sense.  And with the emergence of even more technologies like Topspin, we will see more and more artist going direct to fans with subscription-based offers.

Now if only Apple would budge on their DRM policy and move to pure MP3s.

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Goodbye iTunes, Helloooo Songbird

I’ve been keeping an eye on Songbird for a while but was always a bit intimidated to try it out. A fractional (v 0.5) developer release with nightly builds? Come on, that’s a bit scary for the average bear. I finally installed it this weekend and can honestly say I have arrived at the pearly gates of music heaven.  

Developed by a group calling themselves ‘Pioneers of the Inevitable’ (love it), Songbird is a free open source media player and web browser rolled into one.  It’s like the power of iTunes and Firefox combined.  Not only can you manage and play your own music, now you can play the web too.  

For example, any media files stored on a website will show up as a playable file in the Songbird application that you can download or save to your library.  Even better, it has a built-in RSS subscription and MP3 file download so now you can subscribe to your favorite MP3 blogs as playlists!  Plus, it’s already integrated with HypeMachine, eMusic and InSound.  To get a better sense of all the features, watch their online demo here.

The potential of the application is mind boggling.  Just today I added the mashTape add-on that shows tour dates, photos, lyrics and videos of the artist currently playing and I thought my head was going to explode.  Now if they would only integrate with Sonos…..

Go get it now!

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