updated 12:30 pm EST, Thu November 20, 2008
eMusic Hits 250m Songs
Veteran online music store eMusic today said it has registered its 250 millionth download since its subscription service began in 2003. The company is one of the few outside of Apple to reach the milestone and is owed partly to eMusic's business model, which offers unprotected MP3s compatible with Apple and Microsoft players but uses a subscription model which guarantees a certain number of songs at rates that typically fall well below the 99 cents per track found at iTunes and other stores. An entry $12 monthly plan gives users 30 downloads per month, or about 40 cents per song.
The store also focuses heavily on independents rather than major labels, most of which still have yet to sign on despite a recent shift towards unprotected music. eMusic's catalog is relatively small at 4.5 million songs but compares closely to other stores like those from Amazon and Walmart that have similar scale but shift towards major publishers.
eMusic has a relatively small subscriber base of about 400,000 users but has regularly been profitable through its recurring fees. Its absence of rollover for song quotas also lets it pocket the income from unpurchased tracks and compensate for its bulk pricing.
By contrast, Apple has sold more than five billion songs since opening its own store the same year as eMusic but only generates revenue when customers buy music. The company regularly describes iTunes as a loss leader meant to spur sales of iPhones and iPods. [via TechCrunch]