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. icon
    Tgeigs (profile), 3 Jun 2009 @ 7:00am

    Sounds like maybe eMusic got greedy and screwed the pooch:

    "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"

    Did anyone make THEM aware of that? If you're the 2nd largest music store and you've been successful at charging a subscription fee, you're earnings statements probably look pretty decent. Why sign Sony? Did they want to break out of indie music? If so, what was the reason for the disconnect w/their fans?

    "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"

    I completely agree. I know people that use sites like these BECAUSE they dislike Sony and their ilk. It's a sort of enemy of my enemy is my friend mentality. Then they stumble across some good indie music and bang, their hooked. However...

    "It's become: "eMusic had to raise prices to get Sony Music's catalog into the system.""

    Bull. It ALWAYS WAS eMusic choosing to raise their prices to bring on Sony's catalog. The problem is they didn't take their lessons from the Sony Reich on how to be all sneaky and shifty about it.

    But again, what the hell is the disconnect with their customers? Was there a recent change in ownership or an influx of outside investment in eMusic? Because otherwise, this move just doesn't make any sense. Was eMusic management always a bunch of Indie posers, the way Good Charlotte faked their ridiculous "English" accents?

    "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"

    I couldn't disagree more. Blame will be placed squarely eMusic's managment, mark my words. Because this move made eMusic "look dreadful", and Sony look like....Sony. You don't get mad at the enemy when Benedict Arnold commits treason...you get made at Benedict Arnold.

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