Apple through its iTunes and Nokia through its “Comes with music deal” are preparing to offer unlimited access to the major music companies catalogues through monthly subscription plans. See today’s report in the Financial Times. Such services would be pitched at the $7-8 per month level, with Apple apparently needing a large slice of the revenue (this we understand is Apple’s style).
I wonder if this will work for music? I wonder if it would work for those of us with non-mainstream interests? Surely premium music would elude this framework? One can al least think about such a scheme in the case of music since the 4 majors control a large part of the recorded music pie. Book publishing is incredibly much more fragmented (also by language), so it is scarcely conceivable that a technology platform could negotiate a global rights pie with umpteen different major print publishers.
Mind you its an idea which might be attractive to some. Would such an over-arching subscription scheme be one way for Google to negotiate a settlement with the publishers and author’s societies which are opposing its Google Book Search project? Google would then need to start charging subscriptions for full access to the in-copyright resources in its database.
If this is to be the Google digital books charging model, I would guess that the other players in the market have some years in which to test alternative approaches. Which is what we are doing with the Open Searching/Subscription Content Reading offering that we this week launch for Berkshire Publishing.