eMusic about to get a lot less awesome

eMusic recently announced that it is finally partnering with some major labels, first off all Sony, to bring some of their older back-catalogue releases to the download service. Sounds great, right? Except there’s a hitch: “minor price increases” which turn out to be not so minor at all, especially for folks who have old plans grandfathered in. Myself, for example: I currently pay $143.90 per year for 65 downloads each month. After my current plan expires, I’ll have to pay $171.99 per year for a measly 35 downloads each month. That’s something like a 220% price increase per track. Ouch. Ultimately, I will keep downloading almost exclusively stuff from indie labels, which means that the higher prices are effectively me subsidizing major labels even though I’m not benefitting from their new presence on eMusic.

So that kind of sucks (no: that totally sucks), but if it means that eMusic’s business model becomes more sustainable, I guess I can’t really complain too much. But Swindleeeee!!!!! thought of another interesting potential negative scenario:

I think the major downside other than the price increases is that people will be very mistrustful of having a repeat of the Rolling Stones fiasco. That apparently wasn’t eMusic’s fault, but if Bruce Stringsteen or whoever decides that they don’t like their music being cheapened by being sold at eMusic prices and is successful in getting it pulled, or if Sony upper management gets cold feet and decides to kill the entire deal, that’s going to leave a pretty sour taste in the mouths of eMusic subscribers, especially given that the new higher prices will likely remain in effect.

I would love it if eMusic introduced a price plan that restricted access to major label downloads but kept prices where they currently are (or with a much more modest increase). I’d sign up for that in a heartbeat.

So far I am seeing a pretty big backlash from diehard eMusic fans at places like 17 dots and, more locally, the 9:30 Club boards, with lots of folks saying they’ll cancel their subscriptions when the new pricing structure begins to affect their accounts. Wonder if it’ll be a big enough backlash to cause eMusic to reconsider?

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3 Responses to “eMusic about to get a lot less awesome”

  1. eMusic’s New Pricing | Avant Music News Says:

    [...] uproar is deafening. I’ve blogged about how I feel, as has Brandon Wu, and others. Check out eMusic’s official blog and the hundreds of negative comments that they [...]

  2. ben wolfson Says:

    Agreed. From my perspective (and presumably yours and that of many others) what was nice about emusic was its less conventional selection. Lots of small labels, out (or just not very commercial) music, etc. So the price structure change doesn’t even help me get what I want, particularly; the increased selection is mostly without interest.

    Admittedly if they were in financial straits, then on balance it might be for the best, but if it was just them caving to Sony’s demands, I’m decidedly less sympathetic.

  3. Ground and Sky » Blog Archive » Wait, THAT was part of the fucking deal?! Says:

    [...] this eMusic business is way worse than I thought it was. As part of the PR rollout for the new pricing structure and the [...]

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