Sony BMG moves to music by subscription

Music giant Sony BMG is working on a music subscription service, according to CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. Schmidt-Holtz says the Sony BMG offering would allow consumers to use any existing digital music player – including the iPod – to listen to all the company's music.

Utilised by the likes of Napster, such services charge the user a monthly fee for unlimited access to the website or company's music catalogue.

Schmidt-Holtz says the new Sony service would cost around $9 to $12 a month, and added, 'It's even possible that clients could keep some songs indefinitely – that they would own them even after the subscription expired.'

With major music companies like Sony BMG suffering big losses due to declining CD sales and illegal downloads, it is thought many execs look upon the idea of assured monthly payments from consumers with something between relief and downright ecstasy.

A problem arises, however, if any of the majors ask listeners to subscribe to its music without the involvement of the other major labels. How many times would consumers have to pay a month if we wanted access to all the music we like, not just the tracks from a single stable?

Offering a possible solution to that problem, there have been rumours of a deal between Sony BMG, Universal and Warners to create a subscription service called Total Music, but no solid news has emerged.

Never one to be left out, Apple is also considering a new business model, cleverly tying music ownership with hardware sales: you pay more for your iPod up-front, and then get to listen to unlimited music thereafter.

Technorati Tags: digital music, Downloads, Napster, Sony, Sony BMG, Universal, Warners