Following the successful marketing ploy of selling entire seasons of TV shows through iTunes, Apple is migrating the tactic to music and introducing a season-ticket sales model for specific recording artists.

The first band to give the new iTunes Pass a spin is Essex 80s throwback Depeche Mode, with the $18.99 (£13) package now on sale to US residents only.

New album

Anyone buying the Pass is effectively subscribing to whatever Depeche Mode wants to throw at them between now and the end of the subscription on 16 June.

As well as two exclusive singles and various videos, the centrepiece will be a new album released on 21 April and called 'Sounds of the Universe'.

Engaging fans

Darren Stupak from the band's current label, EMI, told Reuters: "If you're a fan of any band, you want to get new content, you want to keep seeing something from the band."

"You're giving them something every two weeks. It's great because you're engaging the fan with content that's ongoing rather than having them search it out", he concluded.

Not convinced

Nevertheless, not all fans are convinced by the pay-up-front approach. Among the comments on iTunes fans make points such as, "I love Depeche Mode, but ... I'm not willing to shell out $20 for who knows what."

Other comments include, "It's like gambling to see whether you will actually get your money's worth" and "I'm not falling for it ... I will wait".

Regardless, it's clear that buyers will need to feel they've had value for money by the end of their subscriptions and maybe then the album will be on the road to a comeback.