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Posts Tagged ‘eMusic’
So this eMusic business is way worse than I thought it was. As part of the PR rollout for the new pricing structure and the major label additions, eMusic was pimping the fact that you could download albums with more than 12 tracks but only get charged for 12 tracks. What they didn’t tell anyone (as far as I can tell, at least) is that you also get charged 12 tracks for downloading a lot of albums that are less than 12 tracks. I went to grab a Cecil Taylor record that has 2 tracks; in the good old days that would have cost me 2 downloads. Now, I have to spend 12.
This change doesn’t appear to affect all albums with fewer than 12 tracks, but it does seem to affect a solid percentage of them in a quick random check I did, including those on indie labels. This effectively completely destroys eMusic’s price competitiveness over iTunes and Amazon, as far as I’m concerned. I was definitely going to re-up my subscription when my current plan expires in October, despite all the controversy, but this might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I am really disappointed. Fuck.
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 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?
Some good eMusic news — lots of interesting things in this piece. The juicy bits are:
This is great, because eMusic is way behind the curve in user experience. It’s nice that there are user reviews and reviews pulled from AllMusic, but the user interface is terrible and there are things like the eMusic discussion boards that might as well be on a totally different site. I’m psyched about this integration with Web 2.0 entities, should make browsing a lot more fun.
But the other thing that really caught my eye in this article was this:
Given eMusic’s absurd cheapness, this is one hell of a statement.
I am having an absolutely infuriating eMusic customer service experience that has been dragging on for about three weeks now. I’ll tell the full story when it gets resolved, but right now my advice to potential eMusic users is: find a subscription plan you want, go with it, and stick with it. Trying to upgrade or change is a dicey proposition, and the customer service reps are slow to respond to e-mails (there is no phone number) and frustrating dense when they do.
Newsflash: Seventh Records has put four albums up on eMusic, including two Magma live albums! The two albums are Théâtre du Taur and BBC 1974 Londres, though oddly the former omits the second disc (which consists of MDK in its entirety). The other two albums include one by Simon Goubert and one by Collectif Mu, with whom I am not familiar.
Hopefully Seventh puts some more Magma up in the near future — their albums would be particularly downloader-friendly in that many consist only of a couple tracks. I would love to round out my Magma collection with some of the more obscure live albums that I have no intention to purchase at anywhere close to full price.
Newsflash: hard-to-find Scandinavian jazz comes to eMusic! Two great little labels who have very limited distribution in the U.S., Jazzaway and Smalltown Superjazzz, have recently put up a bunch of stuff for download on the service. The former is home to groups like Crimetime Orchestra (whose Life Is a Beautiful Monster I only found at a reasonable price after a year’s searching on eBay) and The Core, while the latter houses The Thing, various other Mats Gustafsson projects, and more. Great news for those of us who can’t easily get some of this stuff!
Missed the Ahleuchatistas/Eyesores show. Had awful allergies and headache all day and something made me think that Ahleuchatistas would probably not make my head feel any better. Damn.
Amidst the news of labels like Tzadik leaving eMusic, here’s some great news: ReR USA has put up all the This Heat albums on the service. Considering I never dropped the cash to get the box set that came out a while back, I might go this route and download some of their stuff — although I admit that I really fetishize the ReR box set packaging. (The Art Bears box set is one of the most beautiful things I own.)
Doh. There have been recent rumors about various indie labels being dissatisfied with eMusic — specifically its royalty system, which according to a post today at Digital Audio Insider pays less than 28 cents per song to be split between the label and artist (and that’s much higher than I would have guessed, frankly) — and today I noticed that all the Tzadik albums are gone from the service. Bummer.
eMusic is all over the place these days — in addition to the Ars Technica and Digital Audio Insider posts, I somehow just descovered eMusic’s own staff blog, 17 dots, which highlights new music and also features a very long philosophical post from eMusic’s CEO on the state of digital music distribution and the eMusic model. Also, the music/technology/business blog HypeBot started today a four-part series on eMusic, including coverage of recent label dissatisfaction; and an old thread at I Love Music has been revived with renewed discussion over eMusic’s business model.
Whether or not said model proves to be efficacious (and, much as I love the service, their scant payouts seem to make statistics like “eMusic receives on average more than $13 per subscriber every month. Compare this with the $7 per year that iTunes receives” less than relevant), it is undoubtedly at the center of the current debate regarding the future of music distribution, especially as regards indie music, and so I’ll be following it closely.
Nice! On the front page of eMusic, today’s featured “eMusic dozen” (in which eMusic staff pick a theme and choose a dozen albums under that theme that are available for download, complete with descriptions of each) spotlights ReR Megacorp. Amidst the expected stuff like Henry Cow and Faust, there is plenty of stuff that I’m not really familiar with but may now end up checking out.