Are Subscription Music Services Doomed?

Best Buy sure doesn’t hope so, because they just dropped $121 million on the mainly-subscription Napster online music service. But Fortune asks a good question: will subscription music services ever catch on with mainstream music listeners, or are they just doomed?

So far the answer is a resounding “who cares.” After years of being on the market in its legal reincarnation, Napster only has about 700,000 subscribers. Most consumers simply don’t want to rent music, even if a fee of $10 to $15 per month gives them access to millions of tracks from the major labels. The idea of not ever actually owning that music puts most people off. Apple has also shied away from subscription services with its iTunes Store.

“People like listening to music for free on the radio or their computers and people like buying music to own,” said Eric Garland, CEO of Big Champagne, a digital entertainment analytics company, in the article. “Subscription is a hybrid of the two. But variations of those two offers haven’t really connected. Nobody wanted to rent vinyl LPs or CDs either.”