I got an email late last night from the Smashing Pumpkins announcing a new subscription service for upcoming material. The service, as outlined in the announcement promises subscribers a minimum of 5 hours of audio and video updates over a three month period for $40. So what exactly does this mean?
Details seem to be scant outside a few bullet points, but a subscription service misses out on a few key things that many general music subscription services don't seem to get: People want to own something. When the tap is closed off, fans still want something show for their investment.
The next question it raises is the quality of the content itself. When a person buys an album, countless hours have gone into the product to refine it and take it to its final state. With content supposedly being posted within twenty four hours of being produced, what is the value proposition here?
I applaud Billy Corgan for seeking new ways to monetize the music business, but I am left to wonder how this will really play out. I'm a pretty big Pumpkins fan (and have been for a long time) but I can't help but think that he's starting to grasp at whatever he can to make some dough, despite this experiment being a "working model that is not profit motivated but rather information and access motivated". If this were so, I would think that (at least initially) the content would be there for free. I would opine that if he really, truly wanted to monetize this, he needs to prove the subscription's worth. The content that has here to for been posted on the Smashing Pumpkins website has failed to impress me thus far, I just can't see myself plunking down a chunk of change for some of the same-old-stuff we've seen for the past two years.
Digg ran a really great interview with Trent Reznor, point man for Nine Inch Nails. Trent is on the forefront of really taking music to the next level as far as business models go, and who has arguably been the most successful at monetizing free music through the marketing of the Nine Inch Nails brand itself. Trent realizes that the music itself has become a commodity, but its in the brand and the live experience that really generates the $$$ for NIN.
So will I buy into Billy's experiment? Likely not. I'll just wait for the next album to come out (if it even comes) because I know that I after I pay ten bucks for it, at least I'll own the tracks at the end of the day.