Throwback Thursday: In 2003, Steve Jobs Trashed Digital Music Subscriptions

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"I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful," Jobs said. Now, Tim Cook's Apple Music subscription service will challenge that idea.

This story first appeared in the June 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

"Music has had a rich history of change, some of which we've played a part in," said Apple CEO Tim Cook on June 8 as he presented Apple Music, the company's new subscription streaming service. Some of that change includes a distinctly different corporate perspective of on-demand subscription music services from that of Steve Jobs, the company's late founder.

Back in 2003, when Apple revolutionized the record business with the launch of its iTunes Music Store, Jobs was rabidly anti-subscription. "The subscription model of buying music is bankrupt," said the then-48-year-old. "I think you could make available the Second Coming in a subscription model, and it might not be successful." 

His alternative was selling downloadable songs for 99 cents each. The Hollywood Reporter noted it would cost $7,425 to fill a 30-gigabyte iPod, then the largest available, with music. (To date, the iTunes store has sold in the neighborhood of 40 billion songs.)

Jobs, who died in 2011, believed that people "don't want to rent music" because unlike with movies or television shows, they listen to their favorite songs repeatedly. "If it costs you $10 a month, or over $100 a year, for a subscription fee to rent that song, that means for me to listen to my favorite song, in 10 years I paid over $1,000 in subscription fees to listen to my favorite song 10 years from now, and that just doesn't fly with customers. They don't want subscriptions." 

The $735 billion corporation's new streaming service, which launches June 30, will offer unlimited access to a 30 million-song library. The cost? $9.99 a month.