As eMusic Embraces Major Labels, Its Indie Core Is Leaving
from the as-if-that-wasn't-predictable dept
eMusic built itself up on a reputation for being a great way to get access to all sorts of indie music. The service, which has been around for ages, and pioneered offering authorized DRM-free MP3s, worked by letting you pay a certain subscription fee per month, which allowed you to download a specific number of songs. Over the years, the price went up, which upset some users, but things really took a turn last year when the company suddenly decided that it absolutely needed the major record labels in its collection. It started with the disastrous idea of adding Sony Music tracks at the same time as a big price increase… and then quietly trying to remove features (and then more features) without telling people. It also appeared that eMusic was deleting comments from critics. While the company denied this, there was a lot of evidence to support the claim.
Since then, the company has also added music from Warner Music and (just recently) Universal Music… but it hasn’t really helped. Its userbase has remained about the same, so if the new music is enticing new subscribers, they’re being offset by defections. But, more importantly, it looks like some of the bigger name indie labels are pulling their music off the site, as they can’t come to a reasonable agreement with eMusic.
So, if I’m reading all this correctly, it sure looks like the company did quite a deal: it signed up major labels to get music that most of its subscriber base didn’t want in the first place. In doing so it took away lots of popular features and jacked up prices. Now, the service is losing the content of some of the biggest indie bands.
This seems like a case study in not knowing your own audience.