I’m a long time XM Radio customer, starting over five years ago with a $9.95/month plan. Since the merger with Sirius, I’ve seen my plan increase to $12.95/month. A few days ago I received an “Important Information About Your XM” email from XM Radio saying that my monthly rate will increase by $1.98/month for a “U.S. Music Royalty Fee.” (I guess they didn’t make it $2.00 because they thought I would notice the increase.) So, now it will cost almost $15/month for a service that has increased 50% over the past five years. This is after the merger with Sirius that was going to make the service more affordable for everyone.
After the iPhone 3.0 launch, I found a free Sirius/XM application for the iPhone that allows you to stream Sirius/XM channels. I though this would be a great thing until I found out that this free application requires you to be a Sirius/XM subscriber and to play an additional $2.99 for a “Premium” upgrade. This would push up my monthly cost to $18!
So where does the Zune come into all this? I purchased a Zune when they first came out and used it for a while but it was replaced by an iPod Nano and iPod Touch. The Zune desktop software (Windows only) is now up to version 3 and Zune software has much improved. The Zune Pass is a monthly subscription service that gives you unlimited access to music in the Zune Marketplace for $14.99/month. In addition, you can download 10 DRM-free songs each month.
I mainly use my XM Radio to listen to music in car and I’m thinking I can save some money and get 10 free songs a month by switching out my XM service for a Zune Pass. By bringing back my Zune and signing up for a monthly Zune Pass, I can download lots of music on my Zune for trips in my car and build up my DRM-free music collection (for use on my iPod). As an added bonus I can download and play songs on multiple (Windows) computers. I generally use my Mac for day-to-day use, but I also have a couple of Window machines nearby, so this is not a problem.
I think Satellite Radio is a great thing and would love to keep the service but I feel it’s pricing itself out of business. Before you had a choice between two satellite radio services but now we are down to one, and a costly one at that.
Now, if I can just figure out where I put my old Zune player and hope that it still works.