The sudden love of subscription-based music from various corners of the music industry is mainly about bringing back old DRM wine in a new bottle (har!). Not that they're the first to say it, but this Valleywag post pretty much explains why Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is suddenly thinking that yeah, maybe consumers do want to rent their (i)tunes:
No, this is about the twisted dynamics of the music industry. Selling unprotected MP3s is all the rage now, even though label executives have insisted for years on copy-protected formats, like the kind Apple sells through iTunes. Forget Jobs's propaganda about Apple wanting to "free" music from copy protection. He doesn't care one bit about the digital-rights management software, or DRM, that record labels insist on. And he knows that most consumers don't care about the issue. He just wants to sell iPods, and his customers just want to buy them.
What Jobs does care about is other music stores having something Apple doesn't. The labels have been favoring competitors like Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) with licenses for MP3 files — because they now fear Apple more than they fear piracy. And Jobs knows that DRM doesn't work to stop piracy, anyway. But what it does do is lock music to devices, because hardware manufacturers can't risk breaking the DMCA's circumvention provisions.