Depeche Mode will be the first music artist to issue an iTunes Season Pass. In advance of the April 21 release of the band's album, "Sounds of the Universe," fans can begin buying a $19 "subscription" today. The Season Pass has previously proven to be a popular option for TV shows offered via the store.
Those who sign up for the Depeche Mode subscription immediately will get the new single "Wrong" as well as a remixed version of "Oh Well." Subscribers will also get a variety of new music and exclusive videos between now and the release date, the full digital album and additional content released later.
The move is the latest example of the music industry experimenting with album subscriptions; artists are upselling loyal fans to higher-priced bundles paid for upfront, and subsequently trickling out content over the course of weeks, months, or even an entire year.
Bringing the model to iTunes, the world's largest music retailer, is a significant step. For the most part, subscriptions to this point have been offered through artist Web sites, which exposes the offer to only the most hardcore fans. Additionally, the iTunes Season Pass service offers artists a turnkey technical platform for releasing a steady stream of content
over time. The process of charging for album subscriptions and managing the offered content has been a significant hurdle holding back the model to date. While there are several technologies out there than can handle it, none are as widespread or familiar to the music industry as iTunes.