A survey from the NPD Group says that millions of Apple users would be willing to pay for cloud-based music services on the iTunes platform.
The research firm asked iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPod Touch users to consider various music subscription-model concepts.
More than a quarter expressed strong interest in a free cloud-based music option, and many were willing to pay a subscription fee to access their own music libraries from multiple devices and platforms.
Between seven and eight million iTunes users in the US would have strong interest in one of the paid subscription options, says the report. They said they'd be willing to pay at least $10 a month - either for streaming music or for access to their personal music libraries on multiple devices.
According to NPD, a model that offered iTunes users free access to their own music libraries would attract around 13 to 15 million subscribers.
"After the service’s launch, user numbers could conceivably rise substantially, as they upgrade to newer connected devices and actually experience the benefits of cloud-based music," said Russ Crupnick, vice president and senior entertainment analyst for NPD.
"If the consumers who indicated strong interest in a paid subscription actually adopted one of those services at $10 per month, the market opportunity is close to $1 billion in the first year, which is roughly two-thirds the revenue garnered by the current pay-per-download model."
He said it was impossible to say what effect these services might have on the traditional pay-per-download model, or whether consumers would spend more on digital music overall.