If iTunes music subscriptions don't happen, it's not because the industry lacks interest. Universal's already got a sub plan; Sony BMG is forging ahead with their own; and now Warner Music is investing serious resources and effort into pushing for a monthly music tax. They want US$5 a month tacked onto everybody's internet bill, and in return, everyone would have unlimited access to basically all known music. It's not as generous as it sounds.
Michael Arrington points out that a US$5 tax—besides essentially turning music into a service requiring us to perpetually suck on the industry's teat—would double its size, from US$10 billion to US$20 billion. So of course the labels are all for it. It's guaranteed revenue that would flood their coffers like never before. Warner's plan calls for the cash stream to flow into a pool that'll be split between copyright holders and artists. But we all know how hard labels want to screw artists.
And as Arrington points out, it would basically freeze innovation in the industry, meaning labels would be able to ream them that much harder. Not to mention, thanks to the fine print, we'd probably no longer own our music. But that's the whole point. And as usual, no-one seems to have thought of how this model would work outside the US. [Portfolio via TechCrunch]