About Kevin

Kevin is a Grammy nominated artist, podcaster, and indie musician advocate. He resides in Portland, OR where he is the Director of Marketing for CD Baby (cdbaby.com). Oh, yeah, he also plays guitar in Smalltown Poets.
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    Music Subscription Service – Will it be voted off the island?

    The Isle of Man, a small island in the Irish sea, plans to institute a music tax which would make every citizen pay a tax in exchange for an unlimited music subscription service. Payment of the tax would be added to the internet service provider bill and would be required, even if the user doesn’t listen to music through the service. What the Isle of Man has planned is extreme, but serves to highlight why I think the subscription model in of itself, is not the future(Or at least the near future) of the music industry. Not only is sweeping legislation required for it to work, but it makes some big assumptions.

    1.Music fans will all be happy to consume music only in that manner

    2.People don’t find the need to “own” their music(Remember what happened when Yahoo music closed? Lots of money down the drain for those subscribers)

    3.There is a long term perceived value – That $15 a month adds up over time!

    The Isle of Mann will be an interesting test case and the world will be watching!

    • http://www.arthurpope.com Arthur Pope

      I’m torn.

      I have hated the idea of a music subscription service since first I heard of them. I do want to own the music. I want it unprotected. I want to buy music from the artists I like so they get the benefit of the purchase directly.

      But on the other hand, I would love to be able to listen to anything I wanted without having to worry about paying for something I will end up not enjoying as much as I had expected at first. I would take more chances on a subscription model.

      I think the solution is for musicians to offer more of their music for free on so that potential fans have more to base their music dollar decisions on. …and Pandora :)

      I don’t think any kind of music subscription model is a good bet for consumers at this point. And this whole Isle of Man thing seems ridiculous.

    • http://kevinbreuner.com Kevin

      My biggest concern is exactly what happened to the folks who subscribed to Yahoo Music. The service closed, and then they were left with nothing. If you had been subscribing for years, that’s a lot of money gone with no music to show for it. I don’t think I would even buy into a subscription service by Apple, because you never know. With this Isle of Man attempt, I can just see a new administration coming in and shutting the whole thing down. The only way I consider music to be mine permanently, is if I have the mp3 on my own personal hard drive, or if I own the CD. That way, when the world goes Madd Max, I’ll still have something to listen to.
      Also, I may sound silly saying this, but I’m not sure consumers really want access to everything. It sounds good, but it takes all the anticipation and excitement out of saving up to buy that new album from your favorite artist.

    • http://prophetnoise.blogspot.com Prophetnoise

      I’m right there with you on this one. While i’m not 100% against subscriptions, i’d feel safe in saying they’re 95% a bad idea. I’m sure someone will figure out a way to make a subscription system work. Until then, meh. And even after that, i’m sure it won’t be too widespread.

      What gets me is the dangers of enacting a state imposed music tax. There are already hidden media taxes on any recordable media (in the states.) The P.R.O./No P.R.O. debate is hot enough. Now we’re going to start getting the government’s hands on that same pool of money? That cant be good.

      And beyond that, when tax dollars are involved in art, the government has control of the arts. The slippery slope gets steep fast from that point. The same goes for the freedom of the internet. I’m going Orwellian for effect here, but art and the internet are our voices and thoughts; our freedoms. Global taxes on both can give way to a tight government grip silencing both outlets.

    • Kevin

      I agree! Giving complete power over art to one entity(especially the government) is never a good idea.

    • http://www.myspace.com/ballardpop Darren Riley

      A strange place to try out such an experiment. The Isle of Man is largely populated by British tax exiles, who are usually exiles because they’re rich and they’re usually rich because they’re of a certain age to earn a large amount of money.

      So, they’re trying to get an island full of middle-aged people get interested in a radical new model for music consumption. Whilst we already have a compulsory entertainment subscription service in the UK (the BBC, which is excellent) I can’t see a compulsory music service being accepted as readily.

      Anyway, it’s nearly May now and I’ve heard nothing about it over here so I assume it will get quietly abandoned.

    • http://kevinbreuner.com KevinB

      Yeah, I don’t think it will ever happen. I hope their government has better things to attend to than setting up a music distribution service that is doomed to fail from the beginning.