Microsoft Thursday launched a new subscription model for its Zune music service. If you fork over the monthly fee of US$14.99 for unlimited music, you can add 10 tracks to your permanent collection every month--free of charge.
All of the major music studios and a few independent ones have signed on for new deal--that includes EMI, Sony, Universal, Warner, INgrooves, Independent Online Distribution Alliance, and The Orchard. Permanent Zune collections can be shared on up to 3 PCs and 3 Zune devices; Sony and Universal are also offering DRM-free music for your monthly free downloads.
This seems like a pretty good deal: pay your subscription fee, listen to what you want and keep the tracks that really appeal to you. But will it be enough attract new customers? Maybe. Subscription models are a popular alternative to the iTunes pay-per-track model, and there have been rumors and hopes that Apple would offer an iTunes subscription soon. That hasn't materialized yet, but if Microsoft increases its market share from its current paltry four percent, Apple may be forced to reconsider its own model.
Zune is offering a free 14-day trial for new customers, but if you own a Mac computer don't get too excited. Even though Microsoft recently launched Zune 3.0 the company is still leaving Apple users out in the cold. Pity.