Microsoft inks deal with music labels for Zune Pass

Mumbai: Zune, Microsoft Corp.’s digital music and entertainment service, has inked agreements with major and independent music labels to bring significant new value to the subscription music model.
The Zune Pass subscription service currently gives consumers on-demand access to millions of tracks for $14.99 per month. Now subscribers will also get to select 10 tracks per month to keep and add them to their permanent collection (an estimated $10 value).
Agreements have been signed between Microsoft and EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, as well as independent distributors INgrooves, Independent Online Distribution Alliance and The Orchard. The Orchard delivers digital music, video and brand services globally, and represents labels including Barsuk Records and Fania Records. IODA represents labels including Arts & Crafts and Ghostly International. The new enhanced subscription model came about as a result of close collaboration with all of these companies.
Zune Pass subscribers will have the added benefit of retaining digital rights management (DRM)-free MP3 tracks from Sony BMG and UMG, in addition to MP3 tracks from EMI Music, Warner Music Group and a large portion of the independent music labels. With the addition of tracks from UMG and Sony BMG, Zune will soon offer over 90 percent of its music in the MP3 format.
"The way people consume music has changed. With the shift to digital from CDs, it is more challenging than ever to offer the right mix of deep content, music discovery and economic value. People want the freedom to listen to whatever they want across millions of songs, combined with the confidence that they can keep their favorite tracks forever," said Zune general manager of global marketing at Microsoft Chris Stephenson.
From its inception, Zune has bet on the power of subscription, not only as a consumption model but also as a way to highlight the music discovery features central to the Zune experience and the PC platform. The Zune service gives consumers convenient and unlimited access to the music they want, and also connects them to other music fans and expert sources to help them find the music they will love. The new enhancements to the Zune Pass subscription service offer unprecedented value for all music fans.
"The subscription model continues to redefine the digital music landscape, and today’s announcement is great news for consumers, artists and labels. "This breakthrough offer makes it easier than ever for consumers to discover new music and will encourage deeper engagement in the digital music space, and that is good for the entire industry," said Strategic Artist Management CEO Simon Renshaw.
A Zune Pass gives a subscriber access to millions of tracks that can be streamed or downloaded from a PC or directly from a Zune device when in a wireless hot spot. Downloaded music can be shared among up to three PCs and three Zune devices. In addition to unlimited downloads, consumers now also get to select 10 free tracks per month to keep and add to their permanent collection. These tracks can be burned to a CD or moved to other devices even if their subscription ends.