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Posts Tagged ‘eMusic’

Musea now available at eMusic

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Alert for prog fans: albums on the prolific Musea label are beginning to show up at eMusic. There’s already some great stuff up, including both Carpe Diem albums, Weidorje’s only album, a couple Wapassou albums, and so on. If you haven’t taken the plunge, maybe now is the time. For me, the Musea catalog is a perfect match for my eMusic downloading habits, as many of their releases are albums I’d probably enjoy but would never spend a full $16-$18 on. Now everyone’s happy: Musea is getting a little bit of money from me, and I’m getting a bunch of music I would never have otherwise heard.

A little while ago there was a discussion on the ReRmegacorp Yahoo! group about the merits of electronic distribution. That Mike Borella was a proponent of releasing all future ReR releases electronically is no surprise to anyone who follows his Avant Music News blog — apparently he now buys all his music electronically and has not purchased a CD in two years. A few months ago, I made my first tentative steps into the world of downloading legal MP3s; now I’m pretty much sold. I still buy a lot of music on CD, but only music I can’t otherwise get online. I realized that when I get a CD, the first thing I do is rip it into a high-quality MP3 so I can listen at my computer (which I have hooked up to my stereo) or on my portable player. Most of the time I don’t even really look at the liner notes.

Besides, with eMusic so ridiculously cheap, why pay $15 for a CD when I can have it for less than a dollar? Under the iTunes model, buying CDs is still economically justifiable, but under the eMusic model it’s lunacy. Given how little the end user pays, I would be very, very interested to hear the details of how exactly the artists and labels make enough money to justify hosting their albums at eMusic.

Popol Vuh at eMusic!

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Big news for those of us who do the legal-downloading thing: eMusic has put some of the SPV catalog up, including 19 (count ‘em) Popol Vuh releases! Pretty awesome news — I’ll use this to fill in the gaps in my Popol Vuh collection, like the lesser-praised albums that I wasn’t planning on buying on CD anyway.

Also, Alex Temple has begun updating his blog again — his project of writing about all of the albums in his collection in alphabetical order. As for my own similar project, well, I’ve slowed down, but I’m still working on it slowly but surely. I wanted to try to post what I’ve done so far, but I’m having trouble getting the PDF to look right. I’m going to put it up soon though, as soon as I figure out the problem, just so folks can see what I’ve been up to.

eMusic carving out their no-DRM niche

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Great, great article at ArsTechnica (an excellent computer-geekery site), regarding the rise of eMusic thanks to their business model eschewing cumbersome digital rights management (DRM) copy protection schemes. The problem with this model is that none of the major labels are willing to distribute their product electronically without DRM, so eMusic has to “settle” for indie labels.

Well, turns out this isn’t a huge problem after all. In an encouraging sign for the state of music today, apparently eMusic has a 12% market share of digital music downloads — and if the article is right, there’s plenty of room for growth, as the “bands found on the site account for almost 30 percent of sales in the US music market” — all this despite the fact that not one major-label release is anywhere to be found. I think that’s pretty great. And, equally amazingly given the ridiculous cheapness of eMusic downloads (you can literally get full albums for 25 cents), apparently their business model is making money.

On a side note, I find it fascinating, and pretty shocking, that the average age of eMusic’s customer base is… drumroll… 39! Really? I wonder what the average age of an iTunes customer is — or for that matter, the average age of anyone that downloads (legal) music. Probably at least a decade younger.

Reader response

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Some responses to comments on earlier posts:

First, regarding this project I’m doing, writing a few paragraphs about every single album I own. This is coming along, but slowly. (It’s hampered by the fact that last month I got far too many new CDs. I am toning it down in the next couple months for logistical and financial reasons, so this problem should recede a bit…) I’ll be happy to post a PDF of an unfinished version, once I have a bit more written. As for actually using some of the blurbs for reviews, I’m a little hesitant to do so, but if there are any that I’m really happy with, I’ll consider it. The thing about reviews — and this goes back to the whole philosophical reflection I had earlier about the role of reviews in general and G&S specifically — is that they’re pretty definitive. At least, that’s how they’re interpreted. So I like to be a little more considered when writing a review that ends up being (theoretically at least) a reference for a lot of people. Still, a good idea Sean, and if it gets you to write some reviews, it’s probably worth it :)

Thanks Mike for the Animal Collective recommendation. I downloaded it from eMusic (which I have started using to try out albums and bands that I’m not sure I’ll like) and find it interesting, if not yet actually captivating. Still, I feel like it’s a grower. On the live-music train of thought, I’ve convinced three or four friends to come with me to see Charming Hostess next month — it’s amazing how easy it is to get people interested just by repeating their “Jewish/Balkan nerdy-sexy-commie-girlie” self-description. Well, at least among my group of friends. Also, it helps that they’re performing in an über-hip, locally-owned coffee shop/performance space, Busboys & Poets.

And, looks like Pelican and Mono have announced some spring tour dates, and they’re coming to DC in May. That’ll be a nice followup to the Isis show a week or so earlier.

Jazz as “the opposite of business”

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Nice ending paragraph from an article in today’s New York Times about the 2005 releases of a 1957 Thelonius Monk Quartet archival on Blue Note, and Coltrane’s One Down, One Up (which is at the top of my wish list).

This is how jazz works. It is not a volume business. (Its essence is the opposite of business.) Its greatest experiences are given away cheaply, to rooms of 50 to 200 people. Literature and visual art are both so different: the creator stands back, judges a fixed object, then refines or discards before letting the words go to print, or putting images to walls. A posthumously found Hemingway novel is never as good as what he judged to be his best work. But in jazz there is always the promise that the art’s greatest examples - even by those long dead - may still be found.

If this is the case, then, and I say this because I have Tzadik on the brain thanks to eMusic, John Zorn and company are following the right model — releasing scads of great live recordings alongside (or, in the case of bands like Electric Masada, in lieu of) relatively contemporaneous studio recordings. Tim Berne is another great example, as his Screwgun releases are often basically just high-quality audience DAT recordings packaged onto CDs.

On that topic, I’m currently most enthralled with the latest 50th Birthday release, Painkiller’s. This series has been a real goldmine for me, although I’ve been avoiding the non-band stuff (Zorn solo and with guests) except for Volume 5, the duo with Fred Frith, because I know that stuff will just grate on me more than anything else. But the stuff I do have is fantastic, including this one (Volume 12).

I joined eMusic

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

Yesterday I signed up for after posting the below entry, to get my 50 free downloads. Sure enough, it’s on a purely track-by-track basis, so I downloaded the entirety of FantômasDelìrium Cordìa, all 74 minutes and one track of it, and still had 49 tracks left to download. Hmm.

I also discovered that while Tzadik has nearly 400 albums up on eMusic, it’s equally if not more exciting to find that both ReR and Atavistic have some 125 albums each up there as well. This is alongside plenty of indie labels, jazz labels, metal labels, and so on — eMusic is strong in all those areas, weaker in classic 70s music, mainstream prog, and, actually, contemporary mainstream rock and pop.

I also may have to rethink what I posted yesterday about exclusively using eMusic as a kind of scouting service. It does seem a little silly to pass up on what is essentially an enormous amount of incredibly cheap music. Still, I’m not quite sure what my approach will be. Most of the things I really like I’ll probably still buy on CD, but for other things I might just settle for the MP3s.

I’m thinking about joining eMusic

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005

Most everyone who’s been paying attention knows by now that Tzadik has put their entire discography, nearly 400 albums, online at I think this is unbelievably awesome, and is going to result in Zorn’s label getting a lot of money out of me at least. However, I’m only using emusic for the unfortunately brief (30-second) free previews, figuring out what I like, and then going to a real record store to buy the actual CDs. I’ll probably sign up eventually for $10 a month just to download a full track from each album that sounds promising, and make more informed decisions based on that.

Call me old-fashioned, maybe, but the true reason behind this decision to buy actual CDs isn’t necessarily that I like having a real CD with real packaging — although that is also true. The real reason is that emusic is kind of behind the times and only offers downloads as lossy MP3s. If they offered FLACs, I might rethink. Still, this is extremely cool, and who knows — I might download full albums I might not like quite enough to buy the actual CD of.

Also, another eMusic flaw is that they seem to charge by track — you pay a certain amount to be able to download a specific number of tracks per month. They don’t seem to have a download-by-album option, so you pay a lot more for an album that has 20 short tracks as opposed to 3 long tracks. Maybe once you sign up a solution to this problem becomes apparent. It does seem like a pretty major issue.

You can browse Tzadik’s catalog at emusic from this starting point.