Ovi's Blog on technology and the web

Subscription-based media

In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten used to subscribing to blogs as my main source of news and information. Mix that with listening to most of my music through a portable player and it’s gotten me thinking about how I consume media.

My primary music player is a Zune, both as a portable device and on my computer. The software allows for a service of paying a monthly subscription fee to download any amount of music to listen to (through the Zune software and player, ofcourse). What if instead of buying albums as I do currently, I just subscribed to the Zune service and downloaded any albums I wanted at anytime. It would be much simpler and in the end cheaper. I figure on average I get about 2-3 albums a month. If each album is about $15, it would be cheaper for me to just subscribe to the Zune service at $15 a month to get those albums.

The biggest problem a lot of people struggle with and is the idea of owning their music. It’s why albums still have top sales and why individual downloads are more successful than the subscription model. But what about instead of getting music, we just listened to music, where instead of owning the music we liked, we just had a list of it and played it from different places, be it online or off a hard drive or other music device. If we thought in that way, our library of music could potentially be limitless and there would be less effort getting to it.

Now what about other forms of media? Cable TV shows are part of your cable subscription. Plus there are packages like HBO and other film channels. For movies, there are services like Netflix. Videogames have a service called GameFly that’s similar to Netflix. Even books have something called BookSwim. They each have their pluses and minuses. I enjoy all these forms of media but there are times where I can go for months without doing one or the other. Being subscribed to them seems like a waste. But I guess the real problem is finding the time to enjoy them all.

Note: I ended up subscribing to Netflix during the writing of this post.

Originally published October 22nd, 2007