Did No One At eMusic Think About PR Impact Of Raising Prices At The Same Time Sony Signed?

from the braindead-PR dept

eMusic is a rather successful indie music e-commerce player (reports put it at the 2nd largest music store), that has focused on charging people a subscription that lets them download a limited number of songs each month. It also supported DRM-free MP3 files long before others finally came around. I have many friends who love the convenience that eMusic provides (I tried it, and didn't find enough of the music I liked to stick around) and are willing to pay for the convenience alone. However, it's almost hard to believe that no one on the PR/marketing side of eMusic failed to predict what would happen this week when the company made two announcements: that it had signed its first major label, Sony, and that it was raising prices. The reaction was quick and almost universally negative.

The complaints hit on a number of points, but the two big ones (obviously) are the price increase and the fact that many people signed up with eMusic because of its indie music focus, and related to that: their dislike of major record labels. What's stunning is that eMusic couldn't foresee what a negative reaction this would bring. The company has raised prices in the past, which also created some level of anger -- but people had to know that announcing both the Sony deal and the price raise at the same time, was going to be a PR nightmare. What I can't understand is why they didn't separate out the announcements. They may have felt it was a "pulling the bandaid off quickly" sort of moment, where they could take flak for both announcements at the same time, but they didn't seem to consider the fact that the two issues are completely linked in users' minds. It's not "eMusic had to raise prices" and "eMusic added Sony music." It's become: "eMusic had to raise prices to get Sony Music's catalog into the system."

That makes both eMusic and Sony Music look dreadful -- because here's a major record label, whose music many eMusic subscribers didn't want in the first place, now being seen as having made life worse (and more expensive) for everyone. By connecting the two issues, it seems like both eMusic and Sony Music are getting hit a lot harder than if the announcements had been separated.

Filed Under: major labels, music, subscriptions
Companies: emusic, sony

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  1. identicon
    Nik87, 3 Jun 2009 @ 8:31am


    I am a long-time eMusic subscriber. Last year they lowered the number of tracks at every tier. Getting less music for the same amount of money did not make me happy. However, I truly enjoyed all of the indie music I could find there. I derive great pleasure from discovering left-of-center artists. Music that is played on most radio is so boring to me, I don't usually hear it. I am talking about over the air radio, not Internet radio.

    So, they are going to run with the big dogs now, having signed Sony. Me? I don't care if they have Sony music of not. Funny how just a few months they posted the reasons why it was GOOD for them not to deal with the big 4. They twist reality to make it fit for the day.

    Sony? I can get that at Amazon.com. And pay less. The business plan right now is you are given a certain amount of credits depending upon how much money you pay a month.

    If the new Dave Matthews Album is Sony and has 19 tracks, I would have to use 19 credits. I am *sure* that works out to more than $9.99 (or less at Walmart).

    To reiterate: I did not support eMusic, write hundreds of reviews to have them offer me less and less for my buck. And in this economy? Screw eMusic. They were posers after all.

    I will say this, after I leave this page, I am going to eMusic and use any credits I have left, and they are going to lose a good customer of over four years. They know where to find me if and when they get over themselves.


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