On “Check the Rime,” Q-Tip may have once rapped that “record industry people probably smoke crack, look at the way they act.” And indeed crack-smoking seems to be the most logical explanation for the biz’s complete and utter inaction toward writing a profitable fiscal model eight years into the 21st century. Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, the majors are finally attempting to move to a subscription model that would tack on five bucks to your monthly Internet or cell phone bill in exchange for the ability to download, burn, and stream their music.
This idea has been bandied about since Napster first began to wreak havoc on the industry a decade ago, but it seems to be picking up steam in recent months. First, Columbia Records co-chief, Rick Rubin claimed the subscription model might save the industry six months ago in The New York Times, and this week Sony BMG honcho Rolf Schmidt-Holtz told a German paper that Sony has been “in discussions with other music labels and partners to offer an online music subscription service.” Warner also confirmed to the LAT that they too had been in such discussions.
While talks reportedly remain in the early stages, it’s difficult to imagine that this strategy is going to pay off, what with companies like Rhapsody and Napster already extant and struggling to break even–and not even touching the obvious reality that people aren’t going to want to pay $5 a month for something that they can already get for free with a rudimentary knowledge of Google. Ultimately, it seems that the industry is taking the cross your fingers approach and taking financial advice from yet another Tribe song: “Luck of Lucien.”