The renting craze extends to automobile leasing, too. Should you own? Or, lease? Fortunately, for both homeowners and car owners, the math leads to the solution. For most of this century we’ve been renting movies but buying our music. Now, music sales are down, and subscriptions (renting) is up.
Follow The Money
Apple’s iTunes Music Store is the world’s largest retailer of songs and albums. Nobody else is even close. But some experts say retail sales are down, and point to subscriptions as the cause.
What’s a subscription? Pay for music each month, listen to as much as you want on any device. Sounds good, right?
So far, no company has a lock on the music industry subscription service the way Apple has with online music sales but that’s changing.
There’s Netflix, the largest of the streaming TV and movie services. Pay one price, stream TV shows and movies to your home and most devices for a monthly fee.
Everybody’s nemesis Amazon supposedly is testing a subscription service for books. Think of it as ‘Netflix for books’. Pay one price per month and get access to hundreds of thousands of books; audio books, too.
Does anyone see an issue here?
The Cable TV Model
As sales of buy-to-own media goes down, rental subscriber numbers go up. It’s beginning to resemble the cable TV industry, whereby we pay one monthly fee to watch any of a few hundred channels. And pay even more for premium channels. Every month. Month after month.
That’s the trend that the music, TV show, and movie industry wants to see. Monthly payments. Why?
Well, back in the day we purchased vinyl albums for our music. Then, we bought them all over again with 8-tracks and cassette tapes. Then we bought them all over again with CDs. Then we bought them all over again with digital downloads.
That’s where the water left the pool. There’s nothing left for media content companies to sell. For now, pending chip implants in the brain, we’re not buying what we used to, and favoring monthly rentals; subscriptions– to TV show, movies, and now music.
Instead of owning what we watch or view or read, we’ll rent access to everything. Get it all with a subscription. I see a number of issues here. First, who collects the money? Then, where does the money go? Finally, is anyone making any money besides those who collect the subscription fees?
It seems odd to me that so many people want to cut the cable TV cord and get out from under the monthly subscription fee, yet are willing to plunk down monthly money for music, and now, perhaps, books, too.
Even application developers are in on the subscription model. Both Microsoft and Adobe have monthly plans for popular software titles. For me, the whole subscription model boils down to a battle of math vs. wants. I want more. I want to pay less.
Over the past few years we’ve averaged $20 per month buying music from iTunes (stocking a library of nearing 7,000 or so songs). So, a $10 a month rental fee to get access to almost every song or album made is enticing.
Our cable TV company gets nearly $100 a month from us. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and judicious use of Amazon and iTunes would probably cost about the same amount.
My husband and I buy a couple of books every month, and the price tag ranges from $25 to $60, so a monthly subscription fee to get access to over half a million titles is also enticing.
As much as I like to own my own content, monthly subscription services are starting to look pretty good.