Zune Pass An All YouCan Eat Subscription Service

Okay, there is one exception to the preceding rule, which applies only to song purchasing. In addition to the dubious song purchasing plan that Microsoft invented to slowly siphon every last cent out of your wallets, the company has also created a Zune subscription service called Zune Pass. This service could actually make a lot of sense for you if two things are true: One, you're still young or interested enough to want to discover new music on an ongoing basis. Two, you own or are going to purchase a Zune device in addition to using the Zune PC software.

Here's the deal: Zune Pass costs $14.99 a month in the United States. Okay, this sounds a little steep at first, and Microsoft isn't offering special deals if you sign up for several months or one year at a time, but this $14.99 buys you ongoing access to all of the several million songs that Microsoft sells via Zune Marketplace. As long as your subscription is active, you can download and listen to any protected song they offer, both in the PC-based Zune software and on your Zune portable media player.

But wait, there's more. This $14.99 a month is actually a good value because each month, Microsoft allows you to download and keep up to 10 songs. That's a $10 value, so the real cost of this subscription part of the Zune Pass is only $4.99 a month, and that's a steal, especially if you are in the market for new music and are buying digital albums anyway.

As with anything that sounds too good to be true, there are some caveats. You can't burn any of the subscription-based songs to CD. The subscription covers music only, not music videos. And as soon as your subscription lapses—poof!—any songs you've downloaded are gone. (Except for the 10 free songs you get each month; those are yours to keep.)

If you're old and crusty, this may not seem like a good deal, but if you're young and have constantly evolving musical taste, Zune Pass may be just what the doctor ordered. Over time, you will discover more and more new music and find out what you really like. By the time your tastes settle down, you may be ready to start buying certain music.

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