Depeche Mode negotiates iTunes first

Band's new material offered via 'Season Pass'

DENVER -- The iTunes Season Pass offer, which has proven to be a popular option for the TV shows offered via the store, is being brought to music.

Depeche Mode will be the first music artist to offer content via iTunes under the Season Pass model. In advance of the act's April 21 release of their new album "Sounds of the Universe," fans can begin buying a $19 "subscription" today.

Those who sign up 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 afterwards.

The move is the latest example of a music industry trend towards offering album subscriptions. Rather than simply offering a single album, artists are experimenting with 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. Most subscription offers to this point have been offered through artist Web sites, visited by only the most hardcore fans.

Additonally, 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.