Apple launches a new iTunes Pass feature for groupies

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Is there an artist you love? I mean really love, as in you’ll buy anything they do before you have any idea what it is? A lot of people probably do, and for them, Apple has a new feature on iTunes called “iTunes Pass.”

While the idea behind this new service seems a bit vague, as I understand it, you buy this pass for a certain artist or group and you’ll automatically receive anything new that they release into the iTunes store during a set period of time. You might think of it like a season pass for a television show on iTunes, except this is for music. Apparently, it can include albums, special tracks, remixes, videos and more.

Unfortunately, right now if you want to try out iTunes Pass you have one option: Depeche Mode. The band’s newest album Sounds of the Universe is being offered as part of the first iTunes pass. For $18.99, you get access to the first single right now as well as another track that regular pre-orderers won’t get. And when the album comes out, you’ll obviously get that too.

As I mentioned, you’ll also get any bonus material and things such as music videos that come out before the pass expires on June 16, 2009 (it’s not clear why they picked that date). All content obtained through this pass is iTunes Plus, meaning it has no digital rights management (DRM) protection on it, and is in the highest quality that iTunes offers.

This page on iTunes has a bit more information about iTunes Pass. Apparently, there are no refunds, returns or cancellations of iTunes Passes. Like season passes for iTunes television shows, iTunes Passes will email you when new content is available and automatically download it if you choose. And the page contains this rather odd statement:

The purchase price of iTunes Pass will not exceed the fair market value of individual items offered as part of iTunes Pass.

Okay, so iTunes won’t rip you off if you sign up for this pass. Good to know, I guess.

I suppose this is an interesting idea for super-fans of select artists, but for most people, I think the a la carte option of regular iTunes will be just fine.


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