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eMusic drops song credits, adds price tiers to fight iTunes

updated 11:20 am EST, Sat November 20, 2010

eMusic changes to pay-per-track to fight iTunes

eMusic has this weekend changed its pricing model to get major labels and more directly compete with Apple's iTunes and Amazon MP3. The deal drops eMusic's distinctive bulk song credits in favor of a variable price, pay per track model that finally adds wider access to major label music, including current music from Sony and Warner as well as year-old music from Universal. Most independent music will still cost the equivalent of the base song credit plan, at 49 cents per song, but will see major label songs sell for 69 to 89 cents.

All of the catalog remains unprotected MP3 files.

The deal tries to strike a balance between the company's original philosophy and the demands by major labels to raise the effective pricing. eMusic's prices are less efficient for very frequent downloaders but still run well below pricing at most other stores. Apple, Amazon and most other US-based stores sell tracks between 69 cents and $1.29, although they have music from EMI that on Apple now includes the Beatles.

While the company has been relatively stable, its subscriber base has been virtually unchanged for a year or more at about 400,000 members. The need for a subscription, along with a limitation to independent music, has kept many users going to more expensive stores but potentially paying less since they only need to pay when they buy music.

by MacNN Staff





  1. MacNNforums

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Class Action Lawsuit

    Emusic was once "iTunes' cooler Cousin", as reviewed by Rolling Stones Magazine. Now, sadly, their biggest fans are the class action lawsuit attorneys lining up to represent claimants after eMusic broke agreements with customers who paid for services they will no longer receive.

    So sad.

  1. leamanc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Blame Universal Media Group

    As a long-time eMusic subscriber, I gotta say this really sucks.

    I like a lot of stuff on bigger independent labels--4AD, Matador, Merge, all of which are now gone off eMusic. I loved eMusic because they catered to those labels years before anyone else did. Even before there were other viable online music stores, including iTunes.

    I also loved the pricing structure. Sometimes getting a fixed number of songs (50 songs a month in my case, for as long as I can remember) worked in your favor. I like to get full albums, and with an album with six or seven long songs, you could sometimes walk away with five or six full albums a month from eMusic.

    The dollar-based pricing structure just takes away what made eMusic different.

    I am most disappointed because they caved to the demands on Universal Media Group (UMe). eMusic had been adding major labels in the last year or so, without having to considerably change their structure. But apparently UMe demanded a total overhaul. I can't believe that eMusic caved just to satisfy this one media conglomerate. Yes, they gained something like 250,000 new songs, but it was at the cost of alienating a lot of their core audience.

    I am pretty sure the old pricing structure won't come back, but hopefully the labels they lost will find a way to get a deal where they are not feeling shafted by eMusic. Thankfully for me and my tastes, 4AD and Matador stuff is still available on AmazonMP3 and iTunes, but at a higher overall cost.

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