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
    herodotus, 3 Jun 2009 @ 6:00pm

    This blog represents an interesting new culture to me.

    We see all kinds of people here who have this adversarial attitude toward the RIAA (which I agree with completely).

    We have all kinds of people complaining about subscription services charging more than they used to, as if prices going up isn't about the most normal thing ever. If it is such a bad idea to raise prices they will lose money and will probably lower them. Again, normal everyday business stuff.

    We have this odd adversarial attitude toward musicians, as if they all expect to be payed for doing almost nothing, like some sort of ASCAP welfare recipient.

    We have a thriving subculture of freetards who are 87% at odds with the views of their host, but who never seem to realize that they are, even though he tells them again and again and again.

    We have numerous people romanticizing musicians, as if they are so fucking weak that their muse will die if they don't get a big monthly royalty check. (To all of whom I suggest: google the name 'Charles Ives' for some enlightenment.)

    We have a thoroughly healthy antipathy toward major labels.

    In short we have all kinds of people talking about music and musicians who seem to know fuck all about either of them. As a musician who is largely sanguine about this brave new digital world, I have to admit I find all of this rather fascinating.

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