Universal Music and SonyBMG are hoping to enlist fellow major label Warner Music in order to once again attempt to wrestle some degree of control of the digital music market back from Apple and its iTunes service. The plan is to offer a free service that is open to as many digital audio players as possible with one notable exception. The cost of a subscription will be absorbed (or added) to the cost of hardware so Doug Morris and other execs are repeating moves from earlier in the year and one that Apple passed on. Infuriated, UMG and others think that instead they’ll hold back on a deal with iTunes and try it themselves. Sadly, they’re trying to reverse time (not possible), ignore clear customer demands (stupid to do) and as they’ve done two or three times over the past 6-7 years build a service that serves their business model and wishes for the digital music space but isn’t tethered to reality.

That’s not to say a free service that works for all digital audio players won’t attract folks – you can’t beat free, but changing habits and reversing the flow towards Apple should be based on a gap in the market, a compelling experience and not the petulant stamping of little feet by music execs seeking to hold on to something, anything…

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