Earlier this year I signed up for eMusic, a long-running service that operates on a “download to own” model; you pay a monthly subscription fee and redeem that money for DRM-free MP3s.
I joined eMusic only because I saw an offer for a bunch of bonus credits and also needed to get a copy of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS immediately (long story). I had every intention of joining, using the free credits, and quitting. Who needs another monthly bill?
But I forgot to quit, and now I look forward to the monthly charge. The subscription model has changed my music shopping process–it’s like giving yourself a monthly music allowance. Psychologically, it’s easier to allocate pre-paid money for something unknown than it is to buy it outright. So I finally have those songs I bookmarked on Pandora back in 2008 and the album that’s spent years on my Amazon wishlist.
And the subscription model leads to more music discovery. If you know you have money to spend on the site, you’re more likely to browse around and see what your neighbors are into, what’s newly-released, and what’s recommended for you.