Universal Music is in talks with Sony BMG and Warner Music about launching a downloadable music subscription service to challenge iTunes’ dominance.
The service, dubbed Total Music, would be optimized for rival devices such as the Microsoft Zune as well as mobile phones and would be free to the user. In the proposed Total Music model, device manufactures would pay the music companies for access to their catalogs.
Here’s a quote from BusinessWeek:
[Total Music will] get hardware makers or cell carriers to absorb the cost of a roughly $5-per-month subscription fee so consumers get a device with all-you-can-eat music that’s essentially free. Music companies would collect the subscription fee, while hardware makers theoretically would move many more players.
Personally, I can’t believe that companies are still trying to make the “subscription” music model work. I don’t know anyone who uses Rhapsody or Urge.