Zune made an awesome addition to the Marketplace subscription today. In addition to the all you can download subscription, you are now able to download and keep 10 tracks per month even if you cancel your subscription. The way I see it is kind of like buying a album every month and getting a free subscription.
As Ina Fried at CNet points out, this is a move by the Microsoft and the labels to drum up subscription rates since they are lower than what they hoped. But subscription is not the only thing hurting in terms of music sales, physical sales are declining faster than digital downloads can keep up.
With the economy tanking (believe the hype, we are up for some tough times) and unemployment increasing at a rapid rate, music listeners have less discretionary funds to spend. For many people music is a relatively inflexible good, it’s nearly a necessity- call it food for the soul. But with personal finance tightening these listeners won’t listen to less music they will seek cheaper and cheaper ways to get music. Free is difficult to compete with, whether that means birttorrent, ripping friends CDs, or even listening to the radio.
Fighting P2P is proving to be more and more futile. I believe record labels are realizing this by loosening up their content as seen with this Zune Marketplace move as well as allowing more DRM free content. When labels are faced to compete with free, this is nothing but great news for consumers- further driving down the cost of music. This Zune news is just the beginning, I’m sure DRM free subscriptions are right around the corner.