Microsoft lets Zune music subscribers keep 10 tracks per month

Zune PlayersRevamping the music subscription program offered with its Zune players, Microsoft Corp. said that the customers can keep up to 10 song tracks per month, even if they later cancel the deal. Microsoft added that the tracks that are not locked with some kind of digital rights management (DRM) technology will be eligible, which means that nearly 90% of the Zune Pass tracks are open to the offer.

With the new Zune Pass advantage, subscribers can use the Zune desktop software as usual to buy individual songs, and the service keeps track of how many free ones remain for the month. In most cases, the song will come in the MP3 format, which can be freely copied to multiple devices and computers. In fact, Microsoft has also signed deals with two major music labels - Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group - so that Zune users can buy MP3-formatted songs.

Commencing right away, people who subscribe to the $14.99-per-month Zune Pass will not only be allowed to retain 10 tracks per month, but will also be able to listen to the library's on-demand tracks. Those tracks selected for keeping can be burned to CDs or moved to other devices, even if the user drops the subscription to Zune Pass.

About the change announced by Microsoft, Aram Sinnreich, a media analyst at Radar Research, said: "To really change things at this point, subscription services really have to go entirely DRM-free. But this strategy is a step in the right direction; it means that the record labels are thinking differently now about the subscription model."

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