Even More eMusic Features Disabled?

from the anti-fan-is-not-a-good-thing dept

This is really unfortunate. eMusic used to be a great example of how treating customers right and with respect and trust could win over more customers — but in the last month or so, it seems like the company is throwing all that out the window and pissing off customers left and right. Beyond the big price increase at the same time as signing its first major record label (bad PR to announce both together), the company has censored critics and removed the feature that let you redownload songs you’d purchased before, at your convenience. However, now we’re hearing that there were a bunch of other features that were removed as well. An anonymous reader notes:

“July 1 was the first day in the Sony era over at eMusic. Despite published interviews with eMusic executives, FAQs on the eMusic web site and messages from eMusic employees on the eMusic forums attempting to clarify the new pricing structure, there were quite a few surprises. Some of the changes I’ve noticed (or read about in the forums) include:

  • Certain tracks can only be downloaded with “paid” credits, not the free credits eMusic hands out for trial memberships.
  • Individual track downloads disabled for tracks longer than 10 minutes – you must download the entire album
  • Certain (popular) sub-10-minute tracks disabled for individual download
  • No downloading individual discs in multi-disc sets
  • Most new albums use 12-credit album pricing (very few reports of 6 or 9 credit album pricing)
  • Many (a significant portion in the classical section at least) albums with fewer than 12 tracks cost 12 credits
  • Many albums previously available on eMusic have been re-priced (in some cases, tracks available for 1 credit on June 30 now require 12 credits)

IMO, the fact that eMusic did such a poor job communicating these important changes suggests that they deliberately withheld (or downplayed) this information, possibly to keep from fueling the outrage generated from last month’s Sony/pricing announcement.”

This seems like an increasing disaster. Hopefully some of these changes are mistakes, rather than permanent. But the way this whole situation has been handled is going to make a terrific case study in how not to do PR. eMusic has turned from a company that customers really loved into one that many seem to hate… and it’s happened in an incredibly short time frame. That’s really unfortunate.

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Companies: emusic

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Comments on “Even More eMusic Features Disabled?”

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AC's long lost brother says:

I USED to be an emusic lover

Now, I will just look for music as I want on Amazon. Too bad, they have a great classical collection on emusic that I love, but I’m not going to put up with getting less for more money. I cancelled, and unless they change their scheme, will not come back when they send me the bonus tracks 3 months from now.

qhartman (profile) says:


So, I just went into my download history last night and randomly picked a song to re-download and it let me do it without complaint. Didn’t use a download credit or anything. I’m as pissed about the changes they have made as anyone. When my current plan expires in October I will be losing a _ton_ of value, but I’m not seeing any evidence of this particular change myself… Just Sayin’

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Redownload

From eMusic’s FAQ page:

“Q: I see a track that I purchased is no longer being offered as a re-download: why?

A: eMusic offers limited re-downloads, without charge, when a track or album fails to download correctly or is corrupted. You will have to re-purchase a track if you’ve exceeded a reasonable number of re-downloads.”

In other words, they’ll let you re-download up to a “reasonable limit” for technical reasons. But, they won’t tell you what that limit is or how they determine the reason for re-downloads.

For me, I’m sticking with eMusic for a little while to see whether the backlash actually affects things but I’m pretty much done with them. Every aspect of the site that appealed to me, from the cheap prices that encouraged experimentation and discovery, to the friendly and knowledgeable community has now pretty much disappeared. A 12-track album that’s not a new release is now almost the same price as the average sale CD, if not more and it’s not worth risking that money on unfamiliar titles.

In fact, if sites like Amazon and Play were actually allowed by the record labels to sell to me rather than enforcing pathetic and idiotic regional restrictions, I wouldn’t even be giving them this benefit of a doubt. I feel sorry for the real victims here – the small independent labels who now won’t benefit from the experimentation many customers indulged in. May they find a new niche before they disappear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Redownload

“A 12-track album that’s not a new release is now almost the same price as the average sale CD, if not more and it’s not worth risking that money on unfamiliar titles.”

This is funny. Catalog music is generally more expensive in a physical music store because it takes up shelf space that could go to fast-moving new releases. But in the virtual world, the costs of “storing” new releases and back catalog music are the same. Less demand should equal lower cost.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Redownload

Note that I said “sale CD”, and if I’m buying online I’ll be comparing to online retailers not brick & mortar stores. Quite often, the CDs will be cheaper, especially if I time my purchases with the regular sales these sites often have.

For example, I go to play.com (my usual source for CDs) and look at a few items in their current sale (all new stock, all prices include delivery). I look at some of the music in the sale that I’ve bought at eMusic over the last year. The Prodigy’s back catalogue costs €6.49. Simian Mobile Disco’s debut album is the same price, as are Cinematic Orchestra’s Ma Fleur and Friendly Fires’ eponymous album. Thea Gilmore’s Harpo’s Ghost is only €3.99.

By comparison, these albums would all cost €6.49 on the lowest-priced current eMusic plan, dropping to €4.92 on the lowest per-track priced plan. At best, eMusic are matching the price of a physical CD (which has resale value, better sound quality and liner notes) and at worst they’re charging a 50% premium. For comparison, on my old plan I was previously paying €0.29/track, meaning that a 12-track album would have cost €3.48 and an album with less tracks would have cost less, regardless of how new or old the album was.

Now, they offer less than Play’s CD sale, a lower selection in many areas, a lower value product and are topping it up with an transparently anti-consumer approach to restructuring their site. Why would I choose that over the CDs unless it’s something I *have* to listen to now – in which case there are many non-subscription sites with similar or lower pricing without commitment.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

What a stupid thing for e-music to do

What a stupid thing for e-music to do…..

218 note/entry)
They should have implemented a new section/ability that allows the following….

Full album downloads @ $??.?? USD
Song Downloads @ $??.?? USD

With the above prices being set, song by song and album by album, by personel at the record company and with some pre agreed upon percent to e-music. This way any Label could have come in and just added their songs.

IMHO … This seems to be another attempt by the record industry to control and unduely burden someone doing something right.

This move by e-music is probably its downfall because it limits its ability to join forces with other labels.

jaredean says:

Re: You people are wrong.

what planet have you been on? do you even use e-music? i seriously doubt it, because if you did and spent any time at all reading what users are saying you will see it is almost unanimous in that we all HATE the way it is being handled…doing away with grandfather accounts (i’ve been with them since 2002, back when it was unlimited downloads), blocking single tracks unless you get the album, limiting re-downloads, increase in price, etc. etc. etc…it is a joke.

You are also WRONG about the piracy…while i’m sure there were some, there wasn’t nearly the amount that would have been if they hadn’t TRUSTED us from the get go with MP3’s and unlimited downloads…that was the philosophy from the start – TRUST the customer and it worked, i feel, very well…there is no way i’d trade/upload my songs…i had too much respect…

But, i will be canceling my account if they don’t make MAJOR changes to their new way of doing things…talk about not caring about us loyal customers…


PaulT (profile) says:

Re: You people are wrong.

Yeah… because stopping a paying customer from downloading the music they’ve paid for 5 times instead of just 3 really puts a dent in P2P sharing…

It only takes a single copy to get shared on P2P networks. Blocking paying customers from legitimately replacing corrupted files won’t stop that. In fact, it can have the opposite effect, driving customers to P2P to replace their legal purchases.

“Sony has been signed increasing the amount of choice for customers that has been greeted very warmly by the current customer base.”

I take it you’re not an eMusic subscriber then? I’m seeing reactions ranging from cautiously vague optimism to outright hostility, with a leaning toward the latter. Offering another 10k track to get ripped off by doesn’t help if the pricing’s the thing you object to, especially when we’re now blocked from downloading many of the individual tracks that might be interesting.

jsut says:

I was initially opposed to the plan fee changes and Sony business, but decided I might as well give things a go for a while. These additional changes are making me think that I won’t be renewing my subscription.

Being able to redownload purchased tracks was one of the main reasons I decided to go with eMusic in the first place. I was very annoyed when I learned I couldn’t redownload iTunes purchases after a hard drive failure.

Also, when the current version of eMusic’s download manager was in beta it had a tendency to corrupt most of the final tracks on my album downloads, and I’ve still not replaced all of the broken tracks — I’d been putting it off since it’s such a breeze to redownload from them.

I’m wary of the new structure for album pricing too, but can’t really comment til I’ve tried it out myself. It doesn’t sound consumer-friendly at all though.

Anonymous Coward says:

I was an eMusic customer for several years, but had to let my subscription expire a while back due to financial reasons. I was getting ready to renew again (unfortunately losing my “grandfather” status) when I heard about the Sony deal and the upcoming changes. I was leary at first. After all I could see where a possible price increase might be due, and upping the music catalog by a substantial amount might make a price increase a bit more palatable. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt even though the addition happened to be Sony (although given Sony’s long storied history of trying to screw and BS there customers I found it quite doubtful this wasn’t there doing). Given all the other changes that are taking place, I’m left with little choice but to assume this is yet another power play by Sony, and I will not be renewing my subscription after all. Futhermore, over the past three years, I’ve turned 9 people on to eMusic (who might themselves turned other on to the site) and three have already said they won’t be renewing, and 4 more are iffy right now. Most of us liked eMusic for the fact we could find quality music with the major label BS, and we found no lack of good music ( I had 100 albums in my saved for later folder when I had to quit). With plenty of quality independent music out there, and more and more bands leaving major labels every day eMusic was proving you didn’t need major labels to succeed (whether it be the artists or consumers). Sadly this is likely to create a short term boost, but long term loss.

danny says:

Unfortunately I jumped on the Emusic gravy train a little late. I’ve only had the service for about 2 years. I am really disappointed in the way they are handling this changeover. It reminds me of the way Blockbuster treats their online customers. taking away benefits and giving a bs excuse.

I understand some labels were simply not being compensated fairly by their pricing structure. But this price increase has made it so that downloading small indie bands is no longer viable. I can’t afford to continue at this price range.

I can get a lot of this back catalog elsewhere. and with having lost a lot of benefits I simply do not want to feed this beast. as is we will be paying 5 dollars per album approximately. I’ll stick around just to fill in some of the holes in my collection. Cash, Elvis, Lou Reed, and some Dylan. After I have downloaded their material there is no reason to stay at this price tier.

Sony is most definitely pulling the strings in this deal.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

eMusic succumbs to stupidity

I was browsing the jazz section and saw an album with 3 tracks, totalling about 39 minutes, which is a really short album. 12 credits to download.

This is insane. If it were a 78 minute album, I could see that, but this is half the length of a CD but they are arbitrarily charging the same as they would for twice as much material.

I was a dedicated and enthusiastic customer for eMusic for 3 and a half years, and did everything I could to promote them on online forums and by word of mouth.

I no longer feel it’s appropriate to promote them and I am considering cancelling my subscription soon.

Thanks eMusic. I can promise you will lose a ton of loyal customers, especially the kind that reject iTunes and Napster, etc. I guess the only bad thing you _haven’t_ done is adopt DRM, and at the rate things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that. It seems you’ve sold out to Sony and the losers will be the indie groups and their fans.

Alain says:

What the hell is wrong with Emusic management ???

Which emusic subscriber really cares about having part of Sony catalogue on emusic ?? Totally disconnected with their earlier philosophy. They are treating long dated customers in the best way to decide them to cancel their subscriptions. I am really hesitating to do so..

They just broke a great business model that was fully working !!! Amazing !!!

Josh says:

Wow, probably not renewing.

I got emusic when you got 40 tracks for $10. That was a great deal and I got tons of great independent music for a great price.

Now the plan they upped me to after restructuring earlier ($12 for 50 – still not bad) is $12 for 30 – shit – especially with the new policies and restrictions.

Nice job, eMusic – especially after your reasons for not carrying “top 100” or “mainstream” music was to be able to give the independent artists a place. Way to choose $$ over art.

Dennis McDonald (profile) says:

new restrictions on sales

I went this morning to download a track from a classical album and found out it is only available as part of the album download. (I already have performances of the other tracks.)

I have 9 credits left this month. The album requires 12. So I can’t download the album even if I wanted to.

Now tell me again, how do these new policies benefit me, the customer? And why should I continue subscribing to a company that has reduced its services while at the same time increasing prices? (Scratches head in puzzlement.)

Dennis McDonald (profile) says:

new restrictions on sales

I went this morning to download a track from a classical album and found out it is only available as part of the album download. (I already have performances of the other tracks.)

I have 9 credits left this month. The album requires 12. So I can’t download the album even if I wanted to.

Now tell me again, how do these new policies benefit me, the customer? And why should I continue subscribing to a company that has reduced its services while at the same time increasing prices? (Scratches head in puzzlement.)

Smooth says:

glad I cancelled...

What I find ironic is that even if emusic does successfully attract customers with the new business model, another site will just copy the subscription approach and out-compete them. With more major labels, deeper popular-music catalogs, and minus the wrath of Indie-music lovers – sites like iTunes or Amazon could draw business away simply by offering a substantial discount on something like a $250 gift card.

zilong says:

A bit of perspective

Given my personal experience, I have been surprised by the unqualified negativity of many people’s responses. Consider the following:

1. The plan that I subscribe to comes out to $0.42 per track, compared to at least $0.89 for any major service based out of the US or Western Europe.
2. The tracks are DRM-free and higher quality than what you get from other major services.
2. The price increase is not just for the major labels. (I agree that announcing both together may have been a mistake.) They have stated that the indie labels (and thus, I hope, the artists) will be getting paid more per track than they were previously.
3. I can only view increased selection as a good thing. Just because I like bands on indie labels doesn’t mean that I can’t find stuff that I enjoy on majors. (My current list is about half and half stuff that they had before vs. new stuff that was just added.)
4. Regarding the album pricing scheme, of the 14 albums currently on my list, two cost a total of 3 more points than it has tracks, while five cost less points. Overall, the album pricing will save me 13 points on a total of 158 tracks, putting me at about $4.35 per album for albums with a pretty high average track count. Again, quite reasonable, all things considered.

While I understand that no one likes to pay more than they are accustomed to paying for something, it still seems like eMusic is one of the best deals around.

Jason (user link) says:

To Rocky and A Bit of Perspective- With the new Sony catalog, eMusic is definitely not still a less expensive option. Many of the hit tracks are available as full album only downloads, meaning you’re essentially paying $5 for one song (since you won’t be listening to the other 11 songs) that you could get on amazon at a higher bit rate for $1.

zilong says:

Re: Jason

Agreed, if someone wants to buy mostly singles (and a lot of people are like that), eMusic is unquestionably not the place to be. A huge proportion of the major label singles on the site are, in fact, album only.

On the other hand, I would guess that most such individuals are mostly interested in purchasing songs that they heard played on the radio. Such music fans would be disproportionately unlikely to have been eMusic subscribers, since the indie label stuff that eMusic has carried got almost no airplay in the first place.

David says:

What a shame, I loved to discover all this beautiful random music! But this is simply not an option anymore with the price hike and all.

Too sad to be angry. I will even not be allowed to rejoin since I am based in Australia and Sony can make more money here selling CDs.

I urge everybody who cares about independent music to quit the service and hope that they get the message and sack the CEO.

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