eMusic: Prices Went Up, But Artists Aren't Seeing Any Of That Cash

from the it-all-goes-to-Sony? dept

You may recall quite a lot of attention paid last summer to eMusic's decision to raise prices at the exact same time that it added its first major label music (from Sony Music) to its service. This, understandably, pissed off a lot of people. Many people used eMusic because it focused on indie artists rather than the majors, and to find out that their prices were being jacked up to accommodate a major just didn't seem right. Of course, eMusic tried to claim that this was a "good thing" and also (har har) that the price increase had nothing to do with Sony. Even if true, announcing the two together was obviously a mistake. Of course, eMusic kept making things worse and worse by censoring critics (and then lying about doing so) while also quietly taking away features without letting people know. The whole thing was a mess.

Of course, if eMusic is charging more, you might think that at least the musicians who use the service are getting paid more. Think again. Musicians on eMusic are upset to discover that despite the price increase, they're still making the same amount. So now, not only has eMusic pissed off its users, but also musicians as well. At least Sony Music is happy.

This is really too bad. eMusic was a leader in offering DRM-free music, as well as a major supporter of independent music early on. It also had a reputation for being consumer-friendly and accessible to both customers and musicians. I guess all that is going out the window, though.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 3:52pm

    Now Sony is joining Bono behind the Techdirt woodshed for a spanking.

    *sigh*

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    As did iTunes

    I'd link, but you covered it recently and prolly have it at hand.

     

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  3.  
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    robphelan (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 4:46pm

    this is sad news.. i used eMusic for years and discovered many Blues and Techno musicians I would never have heard of otherwise.

     

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  4.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 4:55pm

    Re:

     

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  5.  
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    snarkosaurus (profile), Jan 7th, 2010 @ 5:19pm

    No surprise

    A few years ago, eMusic decided to change their plans. Before the change, the price was $19.99 for 90 downloads per month. The new pricing was $19.99 for 75 downloads per month. Other plans had similar drops, but this is the one I remember.

    They grandfathered in their existing customers, but tried very hard to get us to switch to the new plan by asking us to "upgrade" our accounts. There was absolutely no value added with the new pricing, and it was purely a downgrade, yet we got fairly heavy pressure to agree to the new pricing.

    I canceled my account a while ago, after the genre of music that I prefer got completely overrun by trash masquerading ad substance.

     

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  6.  
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    seriously?, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 6:09pm

    Re:

    Is that the best you've got?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 7:18pm

    Whenever a corporation claims that something it wants is for the benefit of the artists and the public when it's intuitively not it's generally a lie. Unfortunately stupid governments believe corporations and start passing laws that only hurt the public artists and help liars make more money. Hence the currently ridiculous intellectual property laws in the U.S.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 8:38pm

    Re:

    Unfortunately stupid governments believe corporations

    They believe in the money lobbied to them and in politics, isn't that the most imporatant part?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 10:46pm

    Fawk Bono & Sony:

    BOYCOTT TO HELL AND BEYOND!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2010 @ 4:28am

    Give it a break Mike

    This is the laziest and worst piece of 'reporting'* I've ever read (and that's saying something). Did you even read the original article in it's entirety? It's pretty clear that the money isn't going to Sony.

    Mike seems to have a personal grudge against emusic and has posted article after article* attacking them, most of which rely on the weakest conjecture and misrepresentation of facts.

    * Well no, they aren't articles, it's a personal blog with pretensions of being a genuine news outlet.

     

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  11.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jan 8th, 2010 @ 5:16am

    I dropped my eMusic account a few months ago, after years of being a happy customer. For most of that time, I loved the service. The subscription encouraged me to download music from independent artists I'd never heard of before, and explore genres I'd normally not listen to.

    The price was also right for experimentation - paying €2 or €3 for an album that turns out to be mediocre doesn't hurt if there's even one great track. Best of all, the music was DRM-free and I could be reasonably sure that most of my money was going nowhere near the RIAA and its cronies, whose tactics I despised. During those years, I spent more money on recorded music than ever before, or since - at least €30/month, often more.

    However, things went quickly downhill after the Sony acquisition. The prices skyrocketed for all users, yet the Sony catalogue was unavailable outside the US. Users outside of Europe and North America were also blocked from opening new accounts. American users also got download caps so that most albums would never cost more than 12 credits, yet everyone else had to pay 1 credit/track - making some albums 3 or 4 times more expensive (and in some cases more expensive than the CD). They also introduced download caps - rather than re-downloading any song you've bought as many times as you need, you can only download a few times (they never truly specified how many).

    So, almost overnight, users were charged much more to get much less from the service. I stuck around for a while, but even after downgrading my account from 100 tracks/month to just 12, I felt I was paying too much for the service there. Is this all Sony's fault? Probably not, but it can hardly be a coincidence that such anti-customer changes took place at the same time their catalogue was acquired. It's no secret that the major labels demand higher licensing fees and more restrictions for content, and since most of the indies involved didn't seem happy at the changes, we have to point the finger at either Sony or bad management.

    Luckily, sites like AmieStreet and Jamendo still exist for my non-RIAA music fixes (although the former has an annoying habit of advertising new albums to me that I'm not allowed to buy - thanks regional idiocy!). For albums not available there, CDs are usually cheaper than eMusic's current prices if you wait a few months, and come with all the fair use rights that digital stores take away.

     

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  12.  
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    :), Jan 8th, 2010 @ 5:35am

    Looking elsewhere

    Magnatune and Jamendo are still free to use I believe.

     

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  13.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 8th, 2010 @ 5:48am

    Lesson to all other services for indies

    You make deals with the majors and they will screw you over as well as make you look horrible.
    Do not make deals with them. Let them suffer as much as possible and stick to the indie roots that make you awesome.

     

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  14.  
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    KevinJ (profile), Jan 8th, 2010 @ 6:10am

    Re: Give it a break Mike

    "* Well no, they aren't articles, it's a personal blog with pretensions of being a genuine news outlet."

    This has been said previously on many occasions. Techdirt is not a news outlet, and has never claimed to be. I recall previous posts from Mike that clearly say that he is not reporting news, but that he is giving us his opinion on topics.

    "Did you even read the original article in it's entirety? It's pretty clear that the money isn't going to Sony."

    I did read the original article, and I have to say that there is money going to Sony Music. How else do you think eMusic was able to license Sony's music library? With kind words? Maybe candy? A one-time payment that gives them permanent access to the Sony Music library? Without knowing any of the particulars of the deal, I'd bet that Sony would insist on continuing payments to keep the Sony library available.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2010 @ 6:50am

    Re: Re: Give it a break Mike

    I did read the original article, and I have to say that there is money going to Sony Music. How else do you think eMusic was able to license Sony's music library? With kind words? Maybe candy? Well now you are being disingenuous, of course Sony are receiving payment. We're talking specifically about where the money from the increased subscriptions is going. Is the extra money going straight into the pockets of Sony? Mike says yes, the original article (by an artist) and common sense says no - there are other more rational explanations. Hey I don't like the majors very much, but if we're going to bash them (and emusic) then lets do so based on evidence and not kooky paranoid plots created in the imaginations of a few disgruntled ex-customers.

     

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  16.  
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    KevinJ (profile), Jan 8th, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Give it a break Mike

    "We're talking specifically about where the money from the increased subscriptions is going."

    Your original post was a little vague on that "from the increased subscriptions" part. You said "It's pretty clear that the money isn't going to Sony." Which did not specify the money from the increased subscriptions. Now your being more specific, and as such yes there are more reasonable explanations. I was actually trying to be sarcastic with the part you quoted, sorry if you didn't catch that.

    "Is the extra money going straight into the pockets of Sony? Mike says yes, "

    Where does Mike say it is? The only spot I see would be "At least Sony Music is happy." Well, they're still getting their license payments according to their contracts so why wouldn't they be happy. After that Sony isn't even mentioned. Unless you can point to much more specific quote from Mike, I think your seeing opinions that aren't there.

    "...in the imaginations of a few disgruntled ex-customers."

    Actually, I've never used eMusic. I prefer streaming services, or listening to a radio stations web feed. Again I was trying to be sarcastic with that part of my post. Next time I'll make sure to include a sarcasm tag for you.

     

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  17.  
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    Joe Schmoe, Jan 8th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Features and controversy aside, eMusic is just not cool anymore.

    I've found a lot of good music there [in the past], but anymore, it's like there is NO quality control in their catalog. The back door is open and they take in any and all pap.

    Maybe it's just the newness of a different catalog, but I can't go more than 5 clicks into AmieStreet before I want to buy something. I can literally slog thru 100 pages at eMusic and not want to download anything... I've quit looking and am only holding my membership open, and at a reduced level, util I clear out my wish list.

     

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  18.  
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    JR, Jan 8th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Include me in the list of people who quit eMusic right after they upped the price and added Sony. Used to be an excellent service before it sold out to The Man.

     

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  19.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 10th, 2010 @ 7:17pm

    Re: Re:

    "Is that the best you've got?"

    I have a better one ...

    Like all web sites dealing with the record labels ... eMusic will get spanked and fail due to contacts and pressure from the record labels.

    Learn from history and you wont repeat it

     

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  20.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 10th, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    Re:

    "BOYCOTT TO HELL AND BEYOND!"

    No dont boycott .... enjoy the moment!!!

    Watch as things begin failing for the record labels. Evolution occurs, things change. I believe the words "We the people". We choose to listen to indie artists, we choose to ignore the artists forced upon us by the labels, we choose to listen to what we want to when we want to. It isnt piracy thats killing the record labels, its choice. We leave them because there is a choice. That is what the labels cant prevent... Choice...

     

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  21.  
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    DG, Dec 9th, 2013 @ 9:04pm

    Customer since 2004; ready to leave

    It's been almost ten years since I joined emusic. I just about ready to cancel my service. I certainly benefited from a larger music collection, but I think they did as well. I pay every month, and quite frankly, some months I forget to download. Recently, it's been three days since I wrote to customer service with still no response. Their website infrastructure needs work, and bad customer service is not the way to get around it. I went online to see other customer responses. It's really a shame to see such a great company not keeping up and growing with the technology. There should be an app for my phone and better deals not worse downloading platforms. With amazon quickly entering the online music marketplace, I think emusic better change it's tune soon. Otherwise, they will be another distant memory in online startup history.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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