eMusic gets Universal Music catalog, overhauls song pricing
Be careful what you wish for because you might just get another major label’s catalog.
eMusic, the independent music lovers’ independent digital music site, is well, no longer that independent. As of November, it will now have music from the world’s number one music company Universal Music, adding more than 250,000 tracks to eMusic’s catalog bringing it to 10 million.
But with the big dog joining the pound eMusic has had to adjust its monthly subscription model. It will no longer offer a fixed number of song credits and will instead switch to good-old fashioned dollar and cents pricing for individual songs. For example right now a starter package of $11.99 will get you 24 song credits a month but going forward $11.99 a month will get you as many songs as $11.99 will buy. eMusic argues that their price points are on average 20 percent to 50 percent cheaper than iTunes or Amazon MP3 store which means many of their songs are around the 50 cent-mark.
This is an excerpt from the notice eMusic US subscribers got when they logged in today:
“New pricing in a nutshell”
“Under the new currency pricing system, eMusic members will enjoy savings of 20%-50% compared to iTunes a la carte prices. The majority of albums on eMusic will be priced from $5.19 – $8.99. Single track pricing for members will vary as follows:
○ $0.49 for most tracks currently in our catalog
○ $0.69 – $0.79 for more popular content
○ $0.89 for tracks that generally sell for $1.29 at iTunes
We won’t know where specific titles (or exactlyhow many) will fall in the categories above until November. But we think you’ll find that eMusic still offers the best deal out there on a consistent basis.”
Yet the wider issue might be that eMusic could lose its unique selling point as a independent music lovers primary destination as its changes to become more similar to mainstream music sites like iTunes. We’ve had at least one eMusic fan in the office make that very point. So they expect more obscure indie rock bands with five fans and less Lady Gaga (pictured). It might be unfair to make that generalization about majors because companies like Universal own many great independent labels with deep catalogs and rare songs — but perception is half the battle. eMusic fans can expect more mainstream music CEO Adam Klein had promised in an interview with Reuters last month that he hoped to have all majors on board this fall — only EMI remains to join following earlier deals with Sony Music and Warner Music.
For its part eMusic is fairly honest about why it needs to make the changes now as it tells its users on its notification page:
“Q: I don’t want the additional content. Can I leave my account as is?
A: Sorry but all plans on eMusic will convert to currency pricing in November 2010. We know that some of our longtime members are on special plans that offer significant discounts. The truth is, eMusic can no longer sustain a business with these older plans. So all current members will be migrated to new Preferred plans that include a special loyalty bonus. We hope you bear with us until November to check out the savings offered by the new pricing system. We think you’ll find that eMusic still offers the best deal out there on a consistent basis.”