This came out about a month ago on DMN here, and now both BusinessWeek and Telegraph UK are offering more details: Universal Music Group is in talks with Sony (NYSE: SNE) BMG and Warner Music about launching a music subscription service, dubbed Total Music, that would be free on certain devices, including possibly Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) Zune and some mobile devices. The hardware makers (or ISPs or anyone else but consumers) would pay the subscription on behalf of their customers, and for them the incentive is to break the Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) dominance in the device and music downloads market.
BW: “In essence, Morris & Co. are telling consumers that music is a utility to which they are entitled, like water or gas. Buy one of the Total Music devices, and you’ve got it all. Ironically, the plan takes Jobs’ basic strategy– getting people to pay a few hundred bucks for a music player but a measly 99 cents for the music that gives it value–and pushes it to its extreme. After all, the Total Music subscriber pays only for the device–and never shells out a penny for the music.”
UMG meanwhile recently refused to renew its long-term contract to sell music via iTunes, but continues to offer its music on a month-by-month basis.