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Universal Rallies Against iTunes Stronghold

A surplus of Apple harms
the Universal diet

Now that Universal Music has begun making waves in the digital music world, a clearer picture of the label's intentions are emerging, reports BusinessWeek.

To much gasping and twittering, the label recently announced it would not renew its contract with Apple's iTunes. Following that it announced it would make unrestricted downloads of music and shows available through Amazon, Google, Best Buy and other services.

But Universal's ambitions are larger than that. The company is embarking upon a new online venture with rivals Sony BMG Music and potentially Warner Music. Universal has locked in the former while talking with the latter.

The new service, tentatively dubbed Total Music, would put a focus on hardware alternatives to Apple's iPod.

Rival manufacturers would pay $5-per-month per user for a subscription service that would provide access to free music for certain players.

The subscription fee would go to the record labels and, if their guess is right, device makers would see increased sales. That might add $90, under some estimates, to the price of each device.

Subscription services have not, to date, been the most attractive to users who prefer to own the music they pay for. But industry analysts say Universal is welcome to try new models if it means swaying an Apple monopoly.


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