Microsoft recently release a couple of videos touting their new “ZunePass” music subscription service. Here’s one:
Another one explains that you get to keep 10 songs per month with the ZunePass service. It sounds like a good argument on the surface, but does the math really work? I think it depends on how you consume music.
First the idea that it costs $30,000 to fill up an iPod is pretty ridiculous. They pick the largest capacity iPod (120GB Classic) and presume that someone would buy that many songs from the iTunes store. I’m an avid music fan, and I have about 5,000 songs in my library. Most of those I ripped from CDs that I already owned and had purchased over a long period of time. The people I know who have massive music collections in digital form — I do have some friends with 100+ Gigs of music — have not purchased them through iTunes.
Nonetheless, I have purchased about 1,110 tracks from iTunes, so in my case let’s see how the math works out:
I’ve spent about $1,100 on music from iTunes (this doesn’t count the discount from buying full albums, but whatever) and I’ve gotten to keep 1,100 songs.
If I used the ZunePass service, at 10 songs a month, it would take 110 months to accumulate the same collection, or $1,650 — not to mention that it would take 9 years to do it. Longer than the iTunes store has been open (it launched in 2003).
True, I would have access to millions of tracks and could listen to them whenever I wanted, but if I stopped paying the $15/month subscription fee, those songs would disappear forever. Some people are okay with that, and I don’t have a problem with the idea that some people prefer to rent their music. I just don’t think Microsoft’s argument for it is any good. As usual, Penny Arcade cuts to the absurdity of it.
By the way, the $1,100 I spent on music from iTunes works out to almost exactly $15/month since the store opened. So for my musical consumption habits, owning the songs is a better deal. What about you?