Zune Music Pass + The New Great Debate

Zune Social: tromboneforhire | By: Marques Lyons | 9/30/2011 |

Well, Herman Cain...looks like someone is putting a 9.9.9 plan into effect, eh? :)

So, we had a bit of Zune excitement yesterday when the Zune team announced that not only were they going to Canada with the Zune Music Marketplace and Zune Pass, but they were making some modifications to the current subscription model here in the U.S.

For $9.99, you'll have unlimited streaming access to songs in the music marketplace *and* the music videos that are available as well. If you're in the current $14.99 plan and wish to stay there (the $9.99 plan will be missing the 10 free songs), then you can grandfather your way in. The new $9.99 plan takes effect on October 3rd, so if you want nothing to change about your current situation, continue to do what you've always been doing.

Note that if you grandfather into October 3, you'll also get the unlimited streaming of music videos. That feature will be essentially for ALL Zune Pass subscribers.

So once the aura of "Oh my FKN Gawd, Zune said something!" died down, people (myself included) began to inquire a bit more about this new plan and what it means for new customers. Many have made the valid point that the 10 free credits was one of the great differentiators for Zune as opposed to what Spotify or Rdio has to offer. So if you were to sell someone on Zune Pass, starting Monday, what would you tell them is a key point to going with Zune versus going with say Last.Fm, when Last.Fm is a PC, Phone and Xbox service like Zune is.

Of course, Zune lowered their price so that they could better compete with these other services that are hitting the scene, but after thinking about it I agree with the value-add question. Of course 10 free songs on a $9.99 plan makes the plan itself free, but you have to wonder how much were the agreements with the labels to allow users to simply stream videos all they want and not purchase them. $14.99 subscribers minus 10 songs is $5 so maybe that $5 helps cover agreements. Just a thought...

Many (myself included) also wonder what's the value of being able to have unlimited streaming of music videos. Remember, you can only stream them (at this point) via the PC software or the Xbox 360. Who'd want to sit in front of their PC and look at vids all day and who'd want to do that on the Xbox, when Youtube will become an app on the service. I could only think that having a music video playlist (for parties) would make things fun or having music videos play behind the song when you're going through a playlist. I would hope that I'm not expected to just pick each video as the previous one ends.

As I noted yesterday, one of the parts of the post that caught my eye was the "More to come" line. As few words as that has, that has a great impact. Microsoft has still yet to announce what they're doing on the TV (or total entertainment front) with announcements about grand partnerships still to be revealed. I'm sure more music services will appear (iHeartRadio announced during their music festival that they were coming to Xbox Live) and in my conversation with Slacker Radio long long ago, they expressed interest in being an app on the service. Why wouldn't they? Xbox Live reaches millions of users every day.

So where does this leave Zune. Zune *is* Microsoft's first-party solution for music, TV and movies but the question still remains how this service will fit into the grand scheme of Microsoft's entertainment package going forward.

Until we get clarifications about that let's deal with present matters. What do you all think of the current Zune Pass subscription that goes into effect on Monday?

Sound off, Zune Nation!

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