This is yet another observation that I had a week or two ago that’s been sitting in the WeblogPostIdeas queue for far too long. It’s a rather obvious actually, but it seemed to “click” after Rio released a firmware update that included PlaysForSure support to a few of their more popular models. This meant that a sexy little 2.5, 5, or 6 gig player that can be easily had for less than $149 could make use of subscription audio and not just the $n per download model.
In a perfect world I could go online, pay my $.99 (or $.89, or $.79), download a song, and be able to do whatever the hell I’d like with it. Unfortunately we just don’t live in that type of world. Yes there are a few companies out there that “Get It” and provide unencumbered plain-jane mp3s when you pony up your cash. Yes there are ways of getting around iTunes and other types of DRM, but it’d be nice not to commit a crime in order to use the music you paid for in a manner that you see fit, like stashing a copy of it on your laptop, desktop, protable player, music server at home, and your desktop at work. I mean that’s just something you should be able to do with something you’ve paid $.99 for.
But I digress. You pony up your buck and you don’t actually own the music and you can’t really do what you’d like to. That’s realy okay. Like I said, there are ways around most of it, but that’s not something that Joe User should have to deal with.
That’s where Yahoo! Music Unlimited comes in. It fills that gap between price per downloads that you don’t own and higher priced subscription services.
What have they done right? They’ve gotten the price point down to the “no-brainer” level. Really. Five bucks a month (if paid annually of course) for all you care to eat, and you can listen to it as long as you pony up monthly or annually. It’s easy to pay more than that on a coffee run to Starbucks. Yeah you don’t own your music and there are restrictions, but that’s not much different than the stuff you paid your buck for.
Having said that, it’s not perfect. Y! Music Unlimited only works if you’ve got Windows, which leaves out Mac, Linux, and other people out of the loop. Still, for a lot of people this music service makes a lot of sense.