Should you rent or own music?

Don Tapscott writes, "In a restructured Internet-friendly music industry, consumers would no longer download songs at a fixed price per tune, but would instead pay a moderate amount each month to listen to an unlimited number of tunes streamed to them over the Internet. I'd happily pay a few dollars per month to get access anytime, on any device, anywhere, to any music ever recorded." Read more in It's time to treat music as a service rather than a good.

Should you rent or buy music? Hmmm, should you rent or buy software? For that matter, maybe we'd be happier renting hardware too. I plan to buy the new Apple phone but I bet I'd be happier if I could rent one for a year and then exchange it for (what you know will be) a better version the next year.

We've talked for years about "metered" software--you know, pay by the transaction. Except there's a natural affinity to owning rather than renting (or leasing), or perhaps it's a belief that the manufacturer can rack up your rates at any time, or maybe just the fear that you don't know how many transactions you'll use but it's probably a lot. Remember that first mobile phone payment? It surely wasn't the $65 I was expecting!!

If you're in hardware or software, before you offer a product with the typical up-front purchase price, maybe renting or leasing (or SaaS) is a better fit for the buyer and better cash flow for the vendor.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.


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