Universal Music Group to Challenge iTunes With Inferior Online Store Four Years Too Late

Photo: Courtesy of Universal Music Group

Following Universal Music CEO Doug Morris's recent decision not to renew the company's contract with Apple's iTunes comes news that the record label is planning its own online music store. Like iTunes, Universal's Total Music will offer a vast selection of songs and albums for download — the company is in talks with Sony BMG and Warner to make their catalogs available too — but unlike Apple's store, it will be wildly unpopular.

Total Music will be an all-you-can-download subscription-based store (like Napster, Rhapsody, and countless other services that no one uses), but instead of asking users to pay (as if they would anyway), Universal is trying to get non-Apple hardware manufacturers like Microsoft to eat the $5 monthly cost for every MP3 player they sell, meaning MS would have to give up about $90 per Zune (assuming the players explode after eighteen months of use). So Universal's plan to save the recorded-music industry is one that depends on people signing up for a wonky subscription service and buying unpopular digital-music players, which will now likely be more expensive. How could it possibly fail?

Universal Music Takes on iTunes [Business Week]