Would you pay $18.99 to get a bunch of exclusive content around the new Depeche Mode album (plus the album itself)? That’s the offer being touted by Apple with a new iTunes Store feature called iTunes Pass.As the blurb puts it:”Get an iTunes Pass from a hand-picked selection of your favourite artists. iTunes Passes can include songs, albums, music videos and more – including content that is exclusive to iTunes Pass. All iTunes Pass songs and music videos are delivered in the iTunes Plus format, which features our highest quality 256 kpbs AAC encoding and no DRM.”Whenever new stuff is added to your iTunes Pass, you’re emailed with an alert, and they’re then automatically downloaded via iTunes. So far, there’s one available, for Depeche Mode’s new album Sounds of the Universe. Apple is promising that the price fans pay for an iTunes Pass won’t be more than the “fair market value” of the individual content, too.”As we work to better understand music consumers and help create stronger connections between fans and artists, we are pleased to work with Apple and Depeche Mode to kick off iTunes Pass,” says Ronn Werre, president of music services at EMI Music, the band’s label.”We think it’s a great new platform that will change the way artists engage with their audiences and also a powerful new way for us to build value for our artists’ music. And with iTunes Pass, Depeche Mode are once again demonstrating that they are true trailblazers and innovators when it comes to creating amazing music and connecting with their fans.”Quite. But what we’re wondering is why EMI wouldn’t do this themselves, so they can harvest the data and manage the relationship between the band and its hardcore fans? Obviously, letting Apple do it saves some of the costs and hassle, but given EMI’s recent talk about D2C services and community management, it seems a slightly surprising decision.

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