Are you ready to rent music?

During the keynote address at the Billboard Mobile Entertainment Live event, an interesting question comes into play: is $10 per month reasonable for subscription music?

Subscription music pricing

Is $10 per month a fair price for on-demand subscription music?

Not long ago, I wrote an article aimed at helping music fans enjoy free audio from a variety of online streaming sources. Of course, I'm a firm believer in using the Internet to discover new music. But there is a threshold between discovery and entertainment for many listeners, and I think paying for a subscription music service is a great way to cross it--especially if you want to take your music "to go" on mobile devices.

There are a variety of pay-to-stream options on the Web, from Slacker's $4.99 Radio Plus service, which lets you skip commercials and cache stations to mobile devices, to the $9.99 on-demand options offered by everyone from Napster to Rhapsody to Rdio. In fact, $10 per month is pretty much the standard price for fully-featured subscription services.

Sitting at Billboard's Mobile Entertainment Live summit, I got to listen to a brief interview with Janus Friis, co-founder of Kazaa and Rdio (among other things). One question posed was whether he thought the current $10 rate is a fair price for an on-demand service such as Rdio. His answer was that it is, what with the fact that it's about the same price as a single album, but he believes that--naturally--it would be even better if it could be cheaper.

Subscription music has been around for a while now, but it has been slow to catch on. The general sense I've gotten over the years is that people have some problems with the idea of "renting" music. But what about now? I'm curious to find out what the rest of you think about the going rate for subscription audio. Please let me know by taking the poll here, and feel free to elaborate in the comment section below.

 

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