Thursday, October 6, 2011

How do you make iTunes Match even better? iTunes Unlimited

iTunes Match is pretty cool: $25/yr allows you to match your songs to iTunes library and keep them in iCloud at 256kbps AAC DRM-free quality. Any song that doesn't match gets uploaded to iCloud. You can then stream (yes, stream) or download your songs to sync any iDevice or PC/Mac. Translation? I can upgrade all my crappy 10-year-old CD rips and albums from "friends" into high-quality 256kbps AAC songs! That is huge, and to have easy access to all 9,000 of them anywhere I go is icing on the cake.

That's great, but how do you make the world's largest library of songs even better?

First, a little perspective
Services like Spotify and Rdio are great models...charge $10/mo to share music "likes" with your friends, discover new music, listen to new albums, save playlists, and download to your phone to listen offline. There's 1 major thing they don't have...the massive library of iTunes.

iTunes is massive. Huge. How big? Over 20million songs exist in their library. Sure it's nice to download an album for $9.99. How often do you do this? Once a month? Twice a month? A couple times a year? My guess is on average once or twice every two months.

A Better Way: iTunes Unlimited (not real, just my idea)
How about another option: iTunes Unlimited. Rather than $25/yr for Match, how about $99/yr for the services of Match plus the ability to stream as many songs/albums/playlists as you like? Now, I don't think Apple would just let you download any song in iTunes to keep forever, but do you really need to for your 24/7 internet-connected PC and AppleTV? You just need the ability to stream to your PC or AppleTV. But our iDevices aren't always connected to a network. How about another option. We all like about:
  • $99/yr tier ($8.25/mo) - 30 offline song downloads to iDevices per month
  • $119/yr tier ($9.92/mo) - 50 songs/mo
  • $149/yr tier ($12.42/mo) - unlimited
Of course these tiers would each include unlimited streaming to your devices. You could share your favorite songs with your friends in iTunes, and maybe Apple can actually make their Ping service usable. All while keeping playlists synced across devices.

Apple...make this happen!
If Apple implemented this, they would have a killer service that would be far superior to any cloud storage service (e.g., Amazon Cloud Player, Music Beta by Google) and social music discovery service (e.g., Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Slacker) combined.

All these tiers/prices/limits variables are off the top of my head, but it sure seems logical for Apple to pull something like this off. $10/mo seems reasonable and competitive for Apple to charge for such a killer service. They could even split the services if you don't want both: $25/yr for iTunes Match, $85/yr for iTunes Unlimited. Then provide a discount of $99/yr for both.

Would you buy into such a service? Please share this blog with your friends!

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