Comments on: eMusic gets Universal Music catalog, overhauls song pricing Where media and technology meet Wed, 16 Nov 2016 08:48:25 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jackdaw Tue, 12 Oct 2010 18:58:00 +0000 I’ve had an eMusic account since 2006 and have endured several changes of plan, in other words substantial price increases. My original plan gave me tracks at just over 22¢ a piece; the price jumped to nearly 40¢ each when they signed up Sony — this after email promising that “Your old plan will be guaranteed as long as you keep your account active and in good standing.” Now, the price per track increases to a minimum of 49¢ — and, more to the point, I will be able to download less tracks per month even with my rather pathetic monthly loyalty bonus. What I liked about eMusic was the ability to download a lot of tracks with the general idea that, because of the low price, I didn’t have to love ’em all. That’s obviously no longer the operating principle.

I can only see this move by eMusic as a sign of desperation. Clearly, as admitted, the old business model is not working and it would appear that they’re not getting new subscribers with what they have on offer. Otherwise, why would it be necessary to risk alienating those of us who really should be grandfathered in with our original plans? There’s simply too many of us to support the expansionist plans without all-round price increases (for something we don’t really want, old mainstream music!)— and there are not enough new customers.

But, I’d argue, eMusic has analyzed the situation in a drastically wrong-headed radical way. Have they not heard of MOG and Rdio? We can stream any amount of music from Universal and every other major label plus many, many independents for a mere $5 a month. Why should we wish to pay considerably more just to own an mp3 copy? So many songs you only want to hear three or four times, if even that, and then that’s it, move on to something new. If, after streaming we still want to buy our own personal copy, we can get many mp3 albums from either Amazon or iTunes for only a dollar or two more than from eMusic. Why should we wish to be tethered to a subscription plan? Loyalty? I think not since eMusic has shown itself as fundamentally disloyal, not honoring promises of plans continuing and essentially deserting the original independent ethos.

Besides that one-two punch of MOG/Rdio and Amazon/iTunes, there are many other sources for digital music from podcasts to piracy to radio programming to SoundCloud plus iTunes is reportedly getting set with a streaming service and there’s one other 800-pound gorilla, Google, that you know isn’t going to sit quietly in the corner forever. A price increase from eMusic is moving counter to all the trends.

Ultimately, I think this move by eMusic is likely to prove to be the nail in its coffin because there is now no clear reason to pay a subscription every month whether one is looking for music or not, whether there’s anything you like that month, whether you’ve just lost your job and need to cut expenses — there are so many arguments against a higher priced subscription right now that you have to wonder just how desperate eMusic is. It is unlikely that I will continue my subscription and, until now, I’ve been pretty much the ideal customer, a ravenous music fanatic. I’m still a ravenous music fanatic, but eMusic is almost certainly no longer going to be where I look to satisfy my cravings.