6/16/09

eMusic Adds Sony Catalog, Raises Prices, Lowers Downloads

I've been a subscriber to eMusic since 2005, back when they let you download unlimited files for a low, low monthly fee. They realized pretty quickly that this was an unsustainable business model, and over the years they've tweaked their pricing/number-of-downloads tiers and ended up somewhere pretty reasonable. For a long time now, eMusic has been a great alternative to iTunes, offering (relatively) cheap, DRM-free, well-tagged MP3s from a wide variety of independent record labels and artists. And that's the way we liked it, dagnabit.

Recently, eMusic announced that they will be adding nearly 200,000 tracks to their download library from Sony's catalog. Coupled with this news is the far less welcome news that they will be lowering the number of monthly downloads for all their plans and simultaneously raising their prices. Predictably, reaction from their subscriber base has been pretty negative. I for one have little interest in the Sony catalog - I love(d) eMusic because it was the place I could go to find independent music for a good price. Unlike many subscribers, I don't feel like they "sold out" in any way by working with a major label - the more music, the better. What I do take issue with is the lowered number of downloads, the higher pricing (in my case, the price will actually double for me, since I was on a grandfathered pricing plan based on how long I've been a subscriber), and the confusion I suffer whenever I try to understand all of their pricing plans.

I'm not sure yet what I'll do when my account comes up for renewal next year. It's cool that their new 180-day plan lets you download up to your limit at any time in the 180 days (much nicer than having a limited number of downloads every month), but the sticker shock may just be too much for me. It's too bad, I've loved eMusic for a long time and up until now I've been very happy with them.

What do you think? Are you a member of eMusic? Will you be keeping your subscription? If you're not a member, are you more likely to join now that they're offering more music? Tell me in the comments.

1 comment:

Lightnin' No Last Name said...

I can't see renewing at these prices after my current subscription expires. I'll probably just jack them for the highest value tracks I can get in the meantime. We'll see if laziness keeps me a subscriber, but right now, wading through Amazon's mp3 store seems like a more attractive alternative - the daily $2.99 specials, the $5 deals...