Zune’s New Subscription Service Lets You OWN Your Music

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The subscription service model is one that appeals to a niche crowd of music aficionados as it allows for all-you-can eat access to huge catalogs of music for one low monthly fee. The only problem with this model is that when it comes to favorite songs, people will often want to “keep” them - that is own them forever and ever. Before today, you couldn’t have it both ways – you both couldn’t own music and rent it; you had to choose one or the other. That dilemma is now no more thanks to the new Zune Pass.

The Zune Pass subscription service has been modified so that you still have the opportunity for the unlimited sampling that a subscription music service provides, but you can now also keep your ten favorite songs, too.

Ten songs – I think that equates to about a CD’s worth of music every month, give or take.

This service is $14.99 per month – a pretty decent offering for ten free songs plus unlimited streaming for up to 3 PCs and 3 Zunes.

Getting together an offer like this was no easy feat. Agreements between Microsoft and the record labels EMI, Song BMG, Universal Music, and Warner Music, had to first be signed and put into place along with agreements with independent distributors of digital music like INgrooves, Independent Online Distribution Alliance and The Orchard.

In addition to this new model, Zune owners have access to unique features not found elsewhere, like buy-from-FM, an option that allows for immediate download of songs heard on the built-in FM tuner. There’s also a Wi-Fi store, a recommendation engine that learns what you like and suggests tracks you might enjoy, themed channels for discovering music by genre, and a dynamic visual mosiac called Mixview which lets you discover music by clicking around a visual display of related albums and artists.

Oh, and did I mention that the majority of the music in the Zune Marketplace is DRM-free?

To learn more about the Zune Pass or to sign up, visit the Zune.net site.

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