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eMusic Ends Unlimited Service
October 9, 2003 6:27 AM   Subscribe

eMusic Ends Unlimited Service - starting in November, $10/month only gets you 40 downloads. They're "pleased" to announce $50/month for 300 downloads. eMusic has been one of my favorite sites for a while. Just a moment ago, I cancelled my subscription.
posted by Fantt (98 comments total)

 
That's a shame. I've been meaning to plan to get around to signing up.
posted by sudama at 6:36 AM on October 9, 2003


Cancel your subscription here.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:45 AM on October 9, 2003


Thanks Fantt - I hadn't gotten the email from them yet... Just cancelled as well - that's unfortunate, as I've been supporting/promoting them to my friends for a while now. I had cancelled about a year ago and just signed up again a month ago.

I suppose we're going to have a stack of individuals cancelling today and linking here. Off to find a better music subscription service - funny that it comes out at the same time that Roxio "reanimates" Napster.
posted by djspicerack at 6:47 AM on October 9, 2003


Man, me too, sudama. I guess we should've got while the gittin' was good.

This just seems like a bad business move. Won't their user base will shrink substantially, and offset any increase in profits they're attempting to gain? They could keep the unlimited thing and double the subscription rate to $20/mo or even a little more, and probably keep a lot more customers and lot more positive reputation. The subscription model of a large user base paying a relatively small sum monthly for (virtually) unlimited service seems to be working fine for companies that run MMORPG games.

On the other hand, I guess if people will pay a buck a song through iTunes, they'll pay a quarter a song through eMusic.
posted by eyebeam at 6:48 AM on October 9, 2003


I think it's ridiculous that they aren't willing to let you have unlimited downloads for even $50/month. That's insane. My guess is that some new suits took over, saw what iTunes is doing and started seeing dollar signs. They'll be seeing red ink soon enough.
posted by Fantt at 6:51 AM on October 9, 2003


25 cents a song is too rich for your blood? Excuse me if I have exceptionally little sympathy.

eMusic is a business. It needs to generate income for itself and for the labels and musicians that distribute their music through it. Being an eMusic subscriber for a while, I enjoyed the "all you can eat" concept, but I didn't see how it was sustainable in the long run. I think a 25 cents/song is entirely reasonable, and additionally, I think whining about tossing two measly bits a song to starving indie musicians, struggling indie labels and the one large music site that doesn't DRM itself into stupidity is just silly.

25 cents a song is still dirt cheap and a good deal -- and supports indie artists. I'll be keeping my subscription.
posted by jscalzi at 6:55 AM on October 9, 2003


All the posturing that if they could just find a way to cheaply distribute legal music and people will take advantage.

Then there are several companies that come out with $1/song services. But that is too expensive. That is still $14-$20 per CD!

So here we have $0.25 cent downloads and that is apparently too expensive. That's a whole $3.50 to $5 per disc. And they have another level of service for $0.16/song ($2.24 - $3.20 per CD) that is apparently still too much.

Just how cheap is acceptable?
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:58 AM on October 9, 2003


I think it might have something to do with the fact that people were used to just downloading at a whim - I crank out 40-50 tracks every time I log into that service, which is a couple times a week - now I'm over my limit in one day.

I still buy a ton of CDs, have a membership to BMG, and get a lot of them as gifts - I don't burn them and distribute them, and definitely want folks to make money off of their work, but I think it was just that the model worked pretty well, but not well enough for folks that d/led a lot of "mainstream" music off of emusic, i.e. TMBG, Bush, compilation CDs, etc. Generally I ended up finding independent artists emusic and then just hitting up their own websites to check out what was new and exciting, download mp3s directly/buying their discs.

Dunno - just seems to be a bit different to me. I suppose some people were just comfortable with what they had to offer. I have no problem dropping $1 a song here and there when I want something. mp3.com and other sites around have free music - otherwise, I'm not sure what the perfect "pay" model is yet.
posted by djspicerack at 7:10 AM on October 9, 2003


I dunno. Emusic certainly has had some interesting nuggets, like the entire Rocket from the Crypt catalog and most of GBV's albums, but for the most part there's a lot of throw away on there. I signed up for the unlimited $10/month download deal about a year ago.

Beyond the first month of downloading all the Brian Jonestown Massacre I could find, my usage really tapered off. The reason for this was that, in odd searches, I could find two Ride albums (Live Light - a disappointing, flat version of their live show, and Tarantula, which was utterly abysmal). This is pretty much an indicative sample of what you get on emusic: weak offerings from some amazing bands.

At $10/month it was worth it, anything north of that: not really.
posted by psmealey at 7:19 AM on October 9, 2003


If a company gave me quarter downloads for PC with no monthly fee and a solid catalog (not just the latest shitheel pop or creaky ancient 'classics' you can hear every 30 seconds on the radio, but good stuff catering to specific tastes), I'd quit stealing. I'd even go to 50- or 75-cents a tune downloads.

Wake me up when that happens, would you? Until then, avast ye scalliwags!

*runs up skull and bones, rips a borrowed Bjork cd*
posted by UncleFes at 7:21 AM on October 9, 2003


I'll be cancelling my subscription.
posted by Robot Johnny at 7:21 AM on October 9, 2003


It's cheap per song, but it doesn't feel as cheap as something like the iTunes music store.

"99 cents a song? Awesome!!"
vs.
"$10/month for 40 songs? That sucks!!"

I think if they want to survive they need to go to ala carte per song/per album pricing.
posted by zsazsa at 7:23 AM on October 9, 2003


I cancelled my service a month ago. They were harassing me because "I was downloading too much."

While $0.25 per song is indeed cheap, their "downloader" is FAR from reliable. I wasted my 40 song trial run because it kept messing up, and only ended up with about 20 songs in the end.

Plus, there was a steady stream of labels who were leaving the site (some small, some big).

If they had a "listening service" where you could hear before you download, the $10 would be good, but half the time, because it is a lot of underground and indie music you have never heard before, you have to sift through a lot of garbage to get to the few jems.

I found a few good bands there, notably the great "Bee-HIve and the Barracudas." I would probably have missed them under this new "service."
posted by Quartermass at 7:32 AM on October 9, 2003


If they had a "listening service" where you could hear before you download

Oo! I want that too. Add that to my list.

*draws cutlass, hacks off a few more Luomo songs*
posted by UncleFes at 7:40 AM on October 9, 2003


I guess I'm waiting for the $30/month all you can get universal music service - universal meaning all tracks from all released albums worldwide. Couple that with all other media - movies. tv, anime, etc and I would be willing to pay $85-$100/month. I would guess other people would be willing to spend that much too... again, maybe more...

I would think the media companies of the world would salivate at the prospect of getting a slice of that pie. Why can't they all just get along?
posted by Fantt at 7:41 AM on October 9, 2003


I'd probably keep my account if they hadn't already pissed me off when their proprietary, obfuscated, bug-ridden "download manager" replaced a perfectly good open protocol. They now seem to have some kind of momentum going, headed for becoming entirely useless and dead.

I may keep the subscription for a while, until I find something better. So, are the p2p music networks any good these days?
posted by sfenders at 7:43 AM on October 9, 2003


Napster 2.0 anyone? $1 per burnable song? Sounds better than iTunes for me since I don't use an iPod.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:45 AM on October 9, 2003


BoingBoing has a good take on the situation.
posted by Fantt at 7:47 AM on October 9, 2003


Damn, this makes me sad. No wonder the boards were down.

A big problem with the "per song" model is that some CDs have dozens of 1-2 minute tracks. Many subscribers were already in a tizz about the download manager only queuing up 40 tracks at a time - it meant they could never get their album in one click (emusic had a feature where you could queue up all album tracks with 1 button). And unless emusic has a "buy all tracks on this cd for $x" scheme in mind, it's going to piss off even more users.
posted by Sangre Azul at 7:53 AM on October 9, 2003


Quartermass...

Their downloader is quite annoying, I agree with that. It drops out way too much, especially when it's supposed to be left there to work while you do other things. I'd never been harassed for downloading too much, which I found fascinating - how did that work?
posted by djspicerack at 7:54 AM on October 9, 2003


I've just cancelled as well.

25 cents a song is still dirt cheap and a good deal -- and supports indie artists. I'll be keeping my subscription.

The problem is twofold. First, they've consistently maintained that unlimited downloads was the way to go, and they built their customer base around that idea. No matter how cheap it might be per song, they will now still be chargin me per song. I don't like being metered. The same is true of internet service or phone service. Corporate America, repeat after me: metered=bad.

Second, it's not $.25 per song I like and want to keep, it's $.25 per download. I like to have a fairly fluid collection, downloading new stuff, and deleting stuff I don't like or don't listen to anymore. The benefit of the unlimited service was that I could treat it differently than my physical music collection. I was not buying each song, I was paying a subscription to listen to eMusic's collection, and listen as much as I liked. Now they want to treat digital music exactly the same as a brick and morter storefront, and I think that's a mistake.

I hope enough people will cancel over the next few days that they get the message and think twice.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:56 AM on October 9, 2003


Napster 2.0 anyone? $1 per burnable song? Sounds better than iTunes for me since I don't use an iPod.

You don't have to use an iPod with iTunes, and iTunes' songs are burnable and $0.99/each
posted by kirkaracha at 7:59 AM on October 9, 2003


djspicerack - Several users found out the hard way that 2000 tracks/month was the upper limit emusic was willing to tolerate. This limit triggered an automated "nastygram" email, and further usage got several people's accounts suspended.

At least, that's what folks said on the boards. *Many* folks, some admitted leeches, others just naive enthusiasts. Subscribers also did discuss and were receptive to going to a metered plan, but the # of desired tracks was more in the 1000s (logical, it seemed, if emusic put its foot down at 2000 tracks/month).
posted by Sangre Azul at 8:01 AM on October 9, 2003


monju,

after reading Fantt's post to boingboing's writeup, I'm guessing that they're not going to "think twice", and are going to get hammered. If you ever notice how many people subscribe to RSS feeds for boingboing on services like bloglines, you know that a ton of people are going to see this and it's not going to take to long before emusic sees some serious backlash.
posted by djspicerack at 8:04 AM on October 9, 2003


I understand that they need to cover their bandwidth costs; this sort of application chews up a lot of it and it's undoubtedly costing them a lot of money to serve up all that content. Maybe they should try the SETI@Home approach - instead of running one massive server with all the music files on it, they could send out a little distributed server app for people to run. I bet people would be willing to give away the bandwidth they are already paying for, just to be part of such a system. In fact, I'm such a believer in the inherent goodness of human nature that I bet people would even be willing to go through their CD collections, rip tracks that nobody had uploaded yet, and share them with the rest of the service. That'd sure lower eMusic's operating costs; there'd be nothing left for them to do but pay lawyers to fight off the copyright vultures.
posted by Mars Saxman at 8:07 AM on October 9, 2003


The artists and labels need to make money too, at 10 bucks per month for unlimited downloads I don't understand how there was any money left over to distribute to the artists. Perhaps if the model was that the average user doesn't download anything, sort of like gym memberships. The gym I go to has 10 people who pay and never show up for every person who shows up on a regular basis. I'm not sure that would be the average though, presumably people would only sign up if they were already Napster or Kazaa users who either wanted to be legit or wanted higher quality rips.

I think of it like this, suppose I find some artist I never heard of. I then go out and buy up their entire catalog in a month. Maybe they've released 8 discs with 12 songs per disc. So for 10 bucks I've downloaded 96 songs or about a dime per song. The site wants their cut, the label wants their cut after that and anything left over from the dime goes to the artist, which is probably zero.

This is more or less how I do purchase music. I hear something I like, then I go out and backfill the artists catalog. Except I do it by buying CDs or (more recently) by going to Apple's music store. The difference is that with emusic the band makes less money per track if they're popular whereas with the Apple store their income is fixed. From an artist's perspective I would have to think that the Apple store, or emusics new operating model would be more intriguing.
posted by substrate at 8:07 AM on October 9, 2003


Sangre Azul - 2000 tracks a month "seems" like a lot to me, but I could see where they were coming from and would understand if that were in their T&Cs or something (sorry, I work in marketing - terms & conditions)... But if they never said anything, and it was always "unlimited" anywhere you saw, then they really can't say anything... Unless they can ditch your account kind of like "employment at will"... Where you can quit and they can fire you for any reason, any time. Once, I had a web host that told me I had unlimited bandwidth, and then I actually got really really close to the number of GB that they would halt you at, and I got a message about purchasing extra bandwidth. When I replied to customer service, asking about my "unlimited" - they said it was "unlimited, within reason..." whatever that means. This seems to be the same case. Needless to say, I don't use that webhost anymore.

I can say that I've probably gotten close once or twice to a big number, especially in the months after I initiated my subscription the first time. But it's interesting to hear that this has been floating around a while. And when you publicly state that the business model is for unlimited-ness, and then you revert, that's a problem. You're going to tick off a lot of people who bought into your thought process, right or wrong.
posted by djspicerack at 8:10 AM on October 9, 2003


I signed up during the summer in the 3 month subscription. An amazing deal while it lasted: I ended up with around 50 CDRs filled with MP3s. 2000 tracks/month wasn't a hard limit. I went over it constantly and got no email.

Also, they killed off the message board right before the change, which was scummy. There's a fan-based board here.
posted by donth at 8:10 AM on October 9, 2003


Mars,

I believe CNET's download.com has begun doing that with their new tool on some pieces of software. I can't think of the name of their program, but I think it starts with a "K" - anyone else use this thing? It's quite interesting, kind of like a "download manager/p2p for business" kind of thing.
posted by djspicerack at 8:12 AM on October 9, 2003


"I don't like being metered."

And? Not to be entirely unsympathetic, but I do think there needs to be some accomodation for a workable business model for eMusic. eMusic isn't dealing in a commodity like a phone service or an internet connection -- it's dealing with discrete objects (songs) which have individual artists and labels attached to them. I would suspect it's more efficient for eMusic to pay the parties in question through a direct "cost per download" set-up. You may have enjoyed the fluidity that eMusic's model allowed you, but as noted, it doesn't appear that particular business model was sustainable.

I would agree that eMusic needs to do a better job of letting people sample the music before downloading. Either they need to migrate to a "Rhapsody"-like setup, which allows streaming and downloading, or they need to do something like CDBaby, where you're allowed to listen to a significant portion of the track before you download.
posted by jscalzi at 8:21 AM on October 9, 2003


metered=bad

Only for the minority on the extreme high side of average use. For the majority on the low side flat rate is bad because their subsidizing the heavy users.

If most of their users were not already downloading 40 songs/month for their $10, then this doesn't even affect them.


2000 tracks/month was the upper limit emusic was willing to tolerate

Ok, now admittedly I don't listen to any music, I just don't understand the appeal. But assuming the songs their downloading are all a short 2 minutes, that is still 67 hours of new music every month.

Are there really that many people that download, listen to, and appreciate that much music? Month after month? In ten months they'll have downloaded enough music to not repeat a song in a month of playing.

Or are they just trying to build a completist collection of all music because they like saying they have 25,000 mp3?

Serious question. I've never understood the whole music thing and don't really know what people are getting out of huge collections.
posted by obfusciatrist at 8:23 AM on October 9, 2003


Well, I'm going to cancel my subscription. I'm not bitching about having to limit my number of downloads, I just think going from 2000 to 40 is a goddamn big loss in service. I really liked the "download an album and decide if you want to pull the rest of the stuff by the band" model, and that's just not tenable under the new restrictions.

Ah well, goodnight sweet prince.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:32 AM on October 9, 2003


Obfusciatrist -

I know I don't represent the norm, but I listen to music constantly. About 9 hrs worth daily at my desk job (I've had a GB mp3 player long before the ipods came out). And when I go home or to my classical music job, I listen to more music - either for relaxation or to study if I have a gig coming up (and then I'll listen to several versions of the same piece). I buy at least one new CD almost every day and go to (or play) concerts whenever I can.

Again, I know I'm an exception. Music is my hobby and my job, so it isn't surprising I immerse myself in it.

Do some of my mp3s/CDs come back for repeat play? definitely. I have a core set of favorites that are constantly begin added to, so it's not like I treated emusic as time-shifted internet radio or something. That isn't to say several people were plain ol' hoarders for the sake of hoarding, and your point did come up numerous times among subscribers.
posted by Sangre Azul at 8:36 AM on October 9, 2003


I've cancelled my subscription.

The following people I have convinced to get the service will also be cancelling with me:
Girlfriend
Girlfriend's Brother
Girlfriend's Brother Best Friend 1
Girlfriend's Brother Best Friend 2
Girlfriend's Brother Friend
Housemate 1
Sister
Mom
Coworker 1
Coworker 2
Coworker 3
Project Manager
Head of Department
My Favorite Aunt
My least favorite cousin
My mechanic
and the guy that fills up the free soda machine here at work.
posted by omidius at 8:43 AM on October 9, 2003


I bet that least favorite cousin was a tough sell.
posted by UncleFes at 8:45 AM on October 9, 2003


not really, he's a cheapass and liked the deal cause it was really worth it. Didn't even know what an mp3 was before emusic
posted by omidius at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2003


Was emusic still a part of Vivendi Universal, and if so, maybe this news has something to do with the NBC Universal deal.
posted by tomafro at 8:49 AM on October 9, 2003


"I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the word."

Seriously, though, I cancelled my membership. Hope to see you go down in flames, eMusic.

oh, and djspicerack, artists don't get money from BMG CDs.
posted by keswick at 8:59 AM on October 9, 2003


Obfusciatrist: I download and listen to well over 2000 new songs a month. Mind you, I do promotion, reviews, and I DJ, so my consumption rate is probably a lot higher than that of most people -- but with the amount of music I listen to now, priced at 25 cents a song, I'd be paying more money to browse through music than I'm paying in rent.

I'll gladly play 25 cents a song for music I enjoy, but it's not worth 3-5$ for me to find out if some band I've never heard of sucks or not, especially when there are thousands upon thousands of them out there.
posted by Jairus at 9:03 AM on October 9, 2003


So I thought I better stock up on Mille Plateaux sounds before Nov. 8. But now I can't seem to download anything. I think they're already limiting me through slow downloading and technical difficulties... Bastards.
posted by micropublishery at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2003


slashdotted...

keswick - didn't know that about BMG. Fascinating stuff - probably explains why there are special "printed for BMG" barcodes on the back of most of the discs.

Jairus - great sentiments - I don't do promo and review, but I listen to music like it's water. I have a huge appetite for it, have lots of friends who are artists, and I love to mix stuff on my pc just for my own amusement. While I've found some quality beats to use from emusic to mix up, I generally churn through music like you wouldn't believe. The "listen" for 30 seconds is okay, but sometimes it's the break or bridge, and you get into it - then you d/l and listen to the other 3:04 of the song and throw it in the trash.
posted by djspicerack at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2003


This is too bad, because eMusic made sense for what it was.

Its catalogue of B-list artists/unknowns combined with unlimited downloads was a good recipe for exploration. I downloaded plenty of things on a whim, lots of it crap, but I also found some real gems. Even if the crap/keep ratio was 10:1 or 20:1 it didn't matter, there was no penalty.

Paying per track only makes sense with known quantities. The eMusic roster just ain't it.
posted by mazola at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2003


Ya,

I was going 24/7 for a while. I work at home and I used it somewhat like a radio.

My first month I downloaded about 3500-4000 songs, which I thought was reasonable (considering they advertised UNLIMITED service). IT was an average of about 100 songs a day, or about 10 albums.

I too convinced a LOT of people to get this service. I was emusic's #1 supporter untill they started doing things that lead me to believe they were going downhill.

Actually, it was MeFi that convinced me to join via this thread
posted by Quartermass at 9:11 AM on October 9, 2003


I joined knowing they had a very small catalog but wanted to explore what they had. That pretty much was done over a weekend. If they had the catalog of iTunes then it would be a different story. Also they're price-fixing you into a flat fee (its not 25 cents a song if they're making you buy x amount of songs per month). In fact, if it wasn't for this minimum per month pricing I'd probably stick around for 25cents a song. Hell, if they expanded their catalog I'd stick around for a dollar a song.

Secondly, don't compare MP3 to discs. With a disc you get a much better sound sample, packaging, etc.

Who knows, maybe in the future they'll enlarge their catalog and offer different pricing plans, but right now its like having them pull the rug from under you. Or its like leasing a car and getting a call from the dealer saying you can only drive 5 miles a day for the same monthly payment. No thanks.

Is Apple planning on porting over their iTunes music store to the PC platform?
posted by skallas at 9:18 AM on October 9, 2003


I just cancelled out of shock and horror.

More importantly, their price is too high for the item returned. If it were a .wav, and they had the big radio names whose music I'd already heard, I'd be all for it.

The problem is they didn't, and you _had_ to sample the artists work. Before, that just meant a waste of my time (no big deal). Now it's a waste of a few dollars also. That's where the problem is.
posted by shepd at 9:18 AM on October 9, 2003


Ok, now admittedly I don't listen to any music, I just don't understand the appeal. But assuming the songs their downloading are all a short 2 minutes, that is still 67 hours of new music every month.

That's not as much as it sounds like. At my last couple of jobs I would regularly spend 200 hours a month at my desk, with music playing most of the time. I ripped all of my CDs, set up file-sharing pools with my coworkers, and piped in Internet radio streams, but it was still hard to keep enough new music coming in to keep from overplaying everything I already had.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:30 AM on October 9, 2003


jscalzi:

Your lack of sympathy is due to your lack of knowing jack about emusic...

Sure, 25 cents per song sounds great -- until you realize that eMusic's catalog is all either older cds or obscure music of bands you've probably never heard of. Anything reasonably popular, and by reasonably I mean even by indie rock or genre-subculture standards (i.e. "Frontline Assembly" if you're into Industrial), eMusic usually does NOT have the most recent releases of.

So why pay $9.99 for unlimited downloads? Because you could get a taste of all these obscure bands you'd never checked out or heard of and it didn't cost you an arm and a leg.

$9.99 for only 40 downloads sucks, not because it makes it "25 cents per song", but because it trashes the whole beauty of what emusic was - a place to discover new music by getting a free taste of it and downloading the rest if you like it.
posted by twiggy at 9:38 AM on October 9, 2003


There's always Magnatune, they are not evil...

or so they say.
posted by Mick at 9:46 AM on October 9, 2003


Twiggy:

I've had an eMusic subscription for some time now, so I'd suggest my lack of sympathy is in fact fully informed.

I'd agree that eMusic would do well to allow people a taste of the music before they buy, as I already suggested upthread. However, "the beauty" of eMusic unfortunately is also an unsutainable business model for them. And it's obvious to see why -- when people complain about "only being able to download 2000 tracks a month (which comes out to a cost of half a cent per track), they've obviously come unhinged from the economic realities of what it costs to do business online. And it's not evil or wrong to realize and even accept that eMusic, the labels who support it and the musicians on those label ought to be reasonably compensated for your access to the work.

The idea that $10 for 40 downloads somehow "sucks" is unfathomably ridiculous. Obviously if eMusic doesn't have a lot of what you want you shouldn't have a subscription, but if it does (and I'd guess quite a few people like the off-brand stuff) it's a great deal.

Really, the lot of you are just so incredibly whineful. "Waaaa! I can't gorge from the trough! Waaaa! They want me to actually pay for my music!" The lack of respect this implies for musicians and the businesses that support them is profound. Get a grip and accept the responsibility of helping independent musicians eat and pay their rent, for Christ's sake.
posted by jscalzi at 9:59 AM on October 9, 2003


until you realize that eMusic's catalog is all either older cds or obscure music of bands you've probably never heard of.

this is exactly why i loved emusic (member for 3 years). whenever people say that there's no good music there I just shake my head. (people say it all the time on their bulletin boards). there is some absolutely fantastic music there. I've downloaded thousands of albums from them over the years and saved so much money on music it's unbelievable. (i used to buy about 8-10 cds a week).

however, as many have pointed out, being able to listen to bands you haven't heard is the upshot of the service.

with the exception of the recent lack of new arrivals (last month or two), i've never considered leaving the service. this new policy, however, forces my hand. inevitable, i suppose, but unfortunate.
posted by dobbs at 10:02 AM on October 9, 2003


Emusic SUCKS. They give you a free trial, which sneakily obligates you to subscribe for A YEAR. Then if you try to cancel, they send out abusive lawyerly emails telling you're gonna get sued/have your credit rating sabotaged.

Their catalogue largely sucks. It's back catalog, mostly dreck (like the one ep an indie musician did on some defunct label before they got a real deal) and they have a really frustrating policy of keeping the good music for americans only, despite charging the same for everyone.

I appreciate that they're better than, say the realplayer service, but they still suck balls.
posted by thedude256 at 10:06 AM on October 9, 2003


also, it's probably fair to mention that most of us seem to be assuming that emusic will be continuing to operate biz as usual, but with a higher price. that's probably not the case. the change in price will probably bring more labels (and, it's been stated, CDBaby's entire catalog will be there soon). if they have a more appetizing catalog for the masses, the thing may fly.

those of you who still have a subscription, i highly recommend you download Bobby Birdman's Born Free Forever, which I think is the best album of 2003.

if you could only recommend one album to subscribers, which one would it be? or would this be too much of a derail?
posted by dobbs at 10:16 AM on October 9, 2003


What's funny is, I must have totally brained when re-signing up for emusic this last time a month ago - when I first signed up, I was month-to-month with no minimum, etc. As I tried to cancel earlier, I must have signed up for a 12 mo. subscription. So I'll be attached to emusic until 9/2004. does anyone remember when they put the minimum months on there, because I really don't remember it from the last time I was a member.

Anyway - If you log back in (if you're still under "contract"), you now have a "stop your subscription" option in your account menu. clicking it shows:

"Stop My Subscription at the End Of My Commitment:


When you signed up for EMusic, you made a commitment to subscribe for a minimum of 12 months. Your commitment period ends on September 27th, 2004. When your commitment period ends, your subscription will convert to a month-to-month subscription and you will have the option to cancel at any time.

Although you cannot stop your subscription until you have completed this initial commitment, you can schedule your subscription to end at the conclusion of your commitment period. If you would like to do this, click on the appropriate link below. "

So, I obviously chose stop. jscalzi - I don't think it's the case that the "gorgers" as you call them, are always a bad thing. People like their music. If you buy something, and it says you can do as much of it as you want, and you do - and then they tell you you're doing too much, it's kind of silly. I signed up for it because I thought I could download on a whim. I will continue to pay my $9.99 now for 11 more months, but only because I have to. On the first of every month, I'll have downloaded enough music already and be done with it, using their horrid proprietary software that hopefully isn't worse now that they've been purchased. If I get another popup EVERY TIME I log in to the service telling me I can't download unless I have it, which I do, I'm going to scream.

So while I'm a businessperson and understand that sometimes you have to make a decision like this, I think it really sucks that something like this could be part of the "terms and conditions" that I "signed" by becoming a member. If netflix told me that I could only watch 10 DVDs per month now, when I'm watching AT LEAST that many at this point, as they I can return one and have a new one within three days, and three at any one time, then I would cancel netflix' service as well. I paid for "unlimited", and that's what I would like to have. Not a change from the little mobius strip symbol to "40" for downloads. I should have known this was coming when the "trial" subscription only let you have 50 mp3s this time, when it was unlimited for like 10 days the last time.
posted by djspicerack at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2003


Well, I'm going to cancel my subscription. I'm not bitching about having to limit my number of downloads, I just think going from 2000 to 40 is a goddamn big loss in service.

I think that's a pretty good summary of the issue here. I'm not adverse to eMusic having to charge more for unlimited downloads in order to make a reasonable profit. Heck, I'm not even adverse to metered downloads, if the number is reasonable. Forty downloads is not--at least for me--even close to reasonable.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: fundamentally the issue is how digital music works and is listened to. I downloaded thousands of tracks to sample and ultimately ended up deleting many of them. For each song I like and decide to keep, there are probably 10 that I don't. Under the new plan, if I continued my listening habits, I'd be paying not $.25 per song I kept, but something like $2.50 each. That is NOT a good deal.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2003


I'd just like to add that if they'd limited it to 500, or even 250 downloads a month, I'd have been happy with that.

I think they're intentionally trying to kill the business.
posted by sfenders at 10:30 AM on October 9, 2003


Really, the lot of you are just so incredibly whineful. "Waaaa! I can't gorge from the trough! Waaaa! They want me to actually pay for my music!

Well, when the only value they're offering over the free services is the chance to not get sued, it's hard not to feel like the guys with the money are taking advantage of you.

The lack of respect this implies for musicians and the businesses that support them is profound.

Businesses don't support musicians - nobody supports musicians, except possibly their friends and significant others. Businesses take advantage of the fact that people who love to play music, love to play music, and will work like crazy for the opportunity to play their music. The RIAA is always sobbing great big crocodile tears about how they're really, honestly, just out to protect the little guy, but if their members actually gave a damn about musicians they might actually offer decent contracts. Right now, as a musician, your choices are: finance it yourself, promote it yourself, do all the work yourself, and let the record company take some huge cut in exchange for shipping out a box of CDs whenever some store orders one; or sign yourself into debt for the next ten or twenty years, as the record company takes every penny they spent "helping" you produce the album right back out of your royalties (on top of the 90%-or-better they already get just for being the record company).

Yeah, sure, I have a lot of respect for the music business.

Music is data, and data distribution is cheap. The sooner we stop fighting this unavoidable consequence of the worldwide Internet, the sooner we can get on to developing a music industry that actually works.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:37 AM on October 9, 2003


There are some gems among the swill in eMusic's catalog. I'm definitely thankful for the introduction to the Decemberists... downloaded all that eMusic had to offer of them, and then went and bought all their cds because I wanted the lovely artwork that went with them. Marvelous band. There's a ton of Belle and Sebastian and Apples in Stereo if that's your thing, too. Oh, and the soundtrack to Ghost World! My subscription more than paid for itself over the year or so I was a member.

That said, I let my subscription to eMusic lapse a month or so ago, and I'll have to think about resubscribing. Part of the coolness of it for me was discovering a cool song and then downloading a whole album at a time to listen to the cool song in context with other, possibly equally cool, songs. I have a very nifty pile of world music and foreign language stuff that I love and never would have downloaded if I'd had a 40-song limit. Getting rid of the multiple-month commitment was a good idea, though. If I get a hankering for 40 new songs, I'll give them $10.
posted by kittyb at 10:39 AM on October 9, 2003


kitty - found apples in stereo on there, too. good stuff, very different from 90% of the stuff out there in mainstream tunes.... good call.
posted by djspicerack at 10:44 AM on October 9, 2003


If they'd set the limit to 100 per month, and said "we're just barely breaking even if you download that much, so it's the best we can do." -- that would've been fine with me.

Bah. I'm off to download everything on their servers before this takes effect. (And in the past I've probably averaged < 60 tracks per month - sometimes lots more, sometimes none).
posted by sfenders at 10:53 AM on October 9, 2003


"Businesses don't support musicians - nobody supports musicians, except possibly their friends and significant others."

Says you. Also, in this case, rantings about RIAA are aside the point as I would suspect the majority of the indies on eMusic are not signatories to it (we jointly agree the RIAA and major labels are evil, I imagine). Small labels tend to be rather more musician-friendly and supportive than the large ones (not all). And of course there are other indie-friendly businesses who are beneficial to the independent artist: CDBaby is one of my favorite examples.

I would agree that in the best world, musicians would have far more control of their work -- and that we're trending there. However, it does not follow that in this world, all music-oriented business is inimical to the musician.

"Music is data, and data distribution is cheap."

What a monstrously unhuman statement. Music is also the work of someone's brain (and the money required to translate what's in the brain into the physical world), and in both cases those people deserve to be compensated fairly for the work, effort and financial outlay. I don't think a quarter per song is too much to ask for.

This is the problem, incidentally: Seeing music as mere data and not as art. Even Mars Saxman, bending over backwards with concern about musicians, appears to have a hangup on this point.
posted by jscalzi at 10:57 AM on October 9, 2003


Is Apple planning on porting over their iTunes music store to the PC platform?

Apple has promised that the iTunes Music Store will be available to Windows users by the end of this year, and there are rumors it could be out as early as next week.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:04 AM on October 9, 2003


I just want to know that if I cancel now, after 2-3 months of my 12-month commitment, that I'm not going to get dinged. After all, they've changed the entire terms of the contract I agreed to. Does anybody know?
posted by jmcnally at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2003


I probably average 40 tracks a month, over a long period of time. But some months I don't download anything, and other months I download a lot. With the old system, this was a "who cares" situation. With the new, I'll actually feel like I'm wasting my money on off months. No thanks.

Interesting way to exploit the new system though: they got rid of minimum sign-up periods, which were 3 months or a year (for the $10/month plan). Now, you can presumably sign up for just one month for $10. So if you want a particular CD that they do have, sign up, download the CD, get three more for free, and cancel. Net gain.
posted by smackfu at 11:09 AM on October 9, 2003


This is the problem, incidentally: Seeing music as mere data and not as art.

The problem isn't the difference between data and art. It's the difference between art and crap. If I like an artist, I'll go to their shows and buy their cds. That's how I support them. I don't care if there's some kind of "social security" for musicians that big labels push out as product.
posted by stifford at 11:15 AM on October 9, 2003


jcmnally - no - you're stuck for the rest of your contract, according to them. I haven't figured out yet if they have the right to do this in the terms & conditions yet of the contract, but I'm looking. If anyone finds this, let us know.
posted by djspicerack at 11:25 AM on October 9, 2003


Get a grip and accept the responsibility of helping independent musicians eat and pay their rent, for Christ's sake.

I work to promote independent musicians every day. I host events, I play their music, I put on concerts, I hold CD release parties.

The idea that $10 for 40 downloads somehow "sucks" is unfathomably ridiculous.

$10 for 40 downloads does indeed suck, when you're trying to find new artists and listen to music that isn't very popular, or very well promoted. It sucks large. For every artist I find that I can promote to the crowd I work with, there's a dozen that suck. For every kickass track by an artist that I can use to introduce them the crowd (in a club setting, usually), there's a dozen that I can't. That's one in about a hundred and fifty. One in a eighty, let's say, on a good day. That's two subscriptions, at $10/month for 40 downloads.

Paying over twenty dollars for one worthwhile track is no better than the deal that the record store chains offers me. Worse, in fact, because I've just used up all my downloads, and I don't get a physical copy of the music, with liner notes and everything.

$10 for 40 downloads sucks large.
posted by Jairus at 11:30 AM on October 9, 2003


it appears that there is one good thing about the new service: there is no contract. so, if you find 4 albums you want (averaging 10 tracks per), you can sign up for $10, download, and quit. that could work out rather well.
posted by dobbs at 11:41 AM on October 9, 2003


dobbs - agreed - the concern is that there are probably a lot of folks who just signed up recently, and didn't "sign up" for this deal. like me.
posted by djspicerack at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2003


Goodbye, and thanks for all the tracks.
posted by 2sheets at 11:55 AM on October 9, 2003


"$10 for 40 downloads sucks large."

Well, no, Jarius. What I'm getting from you is that $10 for 40 downloads sucks if you don't have a way of hearing the music first to see if it's worth downloading. On this, we'd agree; one should be able to browse, and I think it's possible to set it up so that can be done -- and indeed eMusic will probably be in trouble if it does not.

That cleared up: $10 for 40 downloads is cheap.
posted by jscalzi at 11:58 AM on October 9, 2003


Ok, now that I read more about the eMusic service, I understand some of the complaints more.

I agree that having to buy an unkown product isn't good. If they had some form of streaming to hear songs before downloading them so that you could download only those that you really wanted to keep, would most of you be ok with $0.25/track be acceptable (and I think that they should rollover your downloads so that you don't lose anything if you go a month without downloading)?

I must admit, most of these music conversations are mostly pure abstract intellectual exercises. I do listen to music at work (so that I don't have to listen to my coworkers). I have about 6 hours of MP3s on my computer here.

And while I'm technically listening to it, I don't hear it. It is just white noise to me. I've had the same six hours of music for almost two years now. And I probably hear each song at least once a day. And never consciously hear a second of it.

So all of you people that actually sit and LISTEN to hours of music on end, month after month, seem kind of freaky to me (but I recognize that I'm the freaky one).
posted by obfusciatrist at 11:58 AM on October 9, 2003


It's possible that I'm in the minority, here, but aside from my first few months of daily-downloading-madness, I don't think I've broken 40 downloads in awhile.

I don't really like that if I download a record and it turns out that I hate it, well that's too bad and now you have just 30 downloads left (provided the album's 10 tracks, of course). At least if I buy a CD and it's terrible I can sell it to my local CD store.

It's a shame that they're going to end up losing so many subscribers almost immediately, but changing the rules mid-stream is pretty jarring.
posted by sarajflemming at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2003


I would compare this to walking into a shoe store and handing the cashier $10 for a taped-shut shoe box. You don't know if the shoes will be the right color, size, style, heel height, or if you will even like them until you open the box. $10 is cheap for a pair of shoes, but it's expensive if you have to toss the shoes in the dumpster for one of the above reasons ... and you can't buy another pair of shoes until next month. I wouldn't buy shoes that way, and I wouldn't want to buy music that way either. If they want this new plan to work, they are going to have to find a way to let the subscribers "try on" the music by listening to it first.

Sorry for the shoe analogy. I'm sorting through my hundreds of shoes today to decide which ones to keep and which ones were expensive mistakes.
posted by Orb at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2003


Serious question. I've never understood the whole music thing and don't really know what people are getting out of huge collections.

Wow. Just wow.

artists don't get money from BMG CDs.

This is not exactly accurate.
Recording contracts for sound recordings are negotiable. Different royalty rates are going to apply to almost all channels of distribution, record clubs being only one. Usually the rates for record club sales are lower, but it's all negotiable and never believe anyone who talks about a "standard" recording contract. There just ain't no such thing. Further, the royalties from the sound recording are only one revenue source for the artist. Depending on the contract "mechanicals" would still be paid to the owner and/or author of the compositions themselves, being legally (and conceptually) distinct from the sound recordings.

For what it's worth, I have not yet decided what to do with my emusic subscription.
posted by anathema at 12:26 PM on October 9, 2003


I have 50+ gig of mp3s, and listen to internet radio constantly because I've heard all the songs many many times. Of course, I only listen to mp3s in my car (I have an empeg). I'll never sign up for any of those wma or acc only services (I own a powerbook, so itunes is possible) because they're not mp3s, and won't work on the greatest car stereo every created by man. I'm not about to go through killing the quality of the songs to convert them to mp3s, or take the time to do that, I'm paying for convenience. Rather than transcode, I'll just pirate. Transcoding cancels out the time it takes me to pirate.

So, if emusic gets all of cdbaby's catalog, lets me preview all songs without paying, and continues to give mp3s, I may sign up.

If emusic doesn't let me preview, their catalog continues to be 90% crap, and even if they still ship mp3s, I'll never sign up. $10 a month for 4 good songs is not my idea of a good deal.

I managed to pirate gigs upon gigs of mp3s before napster existed, and I'll continue to do it if the evil empire manages to sue the mainstream networks out of existence. You can't keep a music loven geek down.

Oh, and I'll always pay to see live shows of any good musician who bothers to stop in my town (Omaha, which has a worse live music scene than most towns 1/8th it's size.). As well as supporting the local musicians who don't suck.
posted by klaruz at 12:34 PM on October 9, 2003


Lets set the record straight: eMusic *does* offer free 30 sec music samples (though not as convenient as iTunes/IMS).

The fact is nobody here uses 'em. Why? Well, for me, I never liked having to sit in front of a computer to do my listening. I liked being able to browse online, queue up a bunch of albums, upload 'em to my iPod and then take a walk in the park to decide whether or not any of it was good.

With this new model that's just not possible. By having to be so careful about what I download the service no longer functions in a way I find useful. Nuts.
posted by mazola at 12:43 PM on October 9, 2003


A suggestion. allofmp3.com.
posted by warhol at 1:26 PM on October 9, 2003


Here's a more substantive article about Apple - they will launch iTunes Windows next week, and they've even sent out the invites to the press conference.

http://www.appleinsider.com/news.php?id=217

Also: iPod add-ons!!!
posted by Spacelegoman at 1:36 PM on October 9, 2003


warhol: allofmp3.com looks great. Major artists, 1000 tracks at $14.95 per month. Is it legit? Is it a good idea to give your credit card number to these people?
posted by Triplanetary at 2:03 PM on October 9, 2003


If the iPod did proper line-in recording, I would so be there. It's the single feature I crave.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:04 PM on October 9, 2003


inpHilltr8r: You need you one o these.
posted by Jairus at 2:20 PM on October 9, 2003


allofmp3.com... wtf? how is this possible/legal? i remember reading before that the rolling stones were going to be licensing their catalog for download to X (i believe it was iTMS but it most definitely wasn't allofmp3.com) for the first time, yet this site has them already. seems pretty fishy to me.

inpHilltr8r, i believe the next gen of ipods will have recording capabilities. i read some place that someone had taken one apart and looked at the firmware access menus and found a "record function" which he managed to get to work. so it's already in the capabilities. they just haven't made anything official yet. to me, using the ipod as a voice recorder would make it must have.
posted by dobbs at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2003


Some discussion of allofmp3.com here. Looks pretty good, if you're willing to share your credit card with a questionable Russian company that probably won't last long.
posted by sfenders at 3:30 PM on October 9, 2003


I like E-Music. I've gotten an awful lot of stuff from them over the last few years. I enjoy their selection of indie and obscure labels too. There have been many a cd that I have gotten from them that I otherwise would have had to search high and low to get my hands on. I've also been turned on to a lot of music I would have never otherwise heard before.

I always figured that the day would come that unlimited downloads would end with them. I just couldn't see how the number would add up that the artists and/or labels would get their just payments. But so it goes.

That being said, I'm not disappointed that the unlimited downloads is finished. However, I am a bit disappointed in their new prices. I wish it was a bit more flexible. I would rather pay per track, than be limited to what I can get.

I would hope they would re-think the new price plans and perhaps add a bit more flexibility.

Will I cancel my subscription? Probably, but not immediately. I got a lot to download until then!
posted by punkrockrat at 3:37 PM on October 9, 2003


I'll miss eMusic. Fortunately, my subscription is ending the first part of November. I imagine a lot of people are doing a mad rush to download stuff right now.

For those who think eMusic's catalog sucks. You are the older square customer in High Fidelity who Jack Black's character mocks.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:23 PM on October 9, 2003


I don't think that 25 cents per song is so bad, in theory, but coming from a situation where I had "unlimited" (2000 max) and then being told that I'll get 40 for the same price, I just can't see continuing my subscription. Perhaps if they would have offered 100 or 200 downloads for the same price, or $5.00/month for 40 downloads, it would be more likely that I'd continue. I'm willing to bet a download that they fold within 6 months...
posted by bucko at 4:28 PM on October 9, 2003


I like emusic too, but I think that pay-per-track is the way to go. I'm constantly frustrated by emusic "you cannot download this because you are not American", and I'm also frustrated by the fact that I can get track (a) from emusic (15.00 dollars) and track (b) from somewhere else (another 15 dollars). Personally, I'd like to just pay for what I want to download, and hear the rest for free on some kind of radio.

for a while, emusic has been my radio, but that particular dream seems to have been killed.

If emusic are listening, I'd also like them to explain to "Janet Panic" that in the future, people are no longer going to discover them on eMusic.
posted by seanyboy at 4:55 PM on October 9, 2003


I'm constantly frustrated by emusic "you cannot download this because you are not American"

firstly, it doesn't say "you're not american" (i know you're probably just paraphrasing but...). it says it can't be dl outside of north america (or the usa, depending on the track).

this isn't likely to change anytime soon. it's the nature of independent distribution that labels only cover their territories and a diff label handles a diff territory. if emusic can't sign the non-american-rights-holding label, they're stuck with not being able to offer non-americans those tracks.

i didn't understand your "track A is here and track B is there" comment though. don't think i've ever seen that--assuming track a and b were initially on the same album.
posted by dobbs at 6:08 PM on October 9, 2003


emusic has now posted a more thorough letter to subscribers. in addition, they've removed the link to "message boards" from all internal page navigation bars and indicated their privacy policy will be changing at the end of the month to reflect Dimension's privacy policy--that they can share your info with other Dimension co. unless you write them and tell them not to.
posted by dobbs at 6:18 PM on October 9, 2003


allofmp3.com has been in business for a couple of years from what I understand. I was also hesitant about giving up credit card info, but since you can pay via paypal (whole different discussion about paypal not needed here), you don't ever have to actually give the russians the precious digits. It's a nice insulating layer. It actually does seem legit and the site claims to be paying the appropriate royalties and licenses *in russia* where the fees are much lower. The collection is a little more mainstream, but there's some decent esoterica, but not anywhere near to the extent of emusic. If you get an account, get the traffic account. The nice thing about their online encoding is that you get to decide what format you want (ogg, acc, mp3, etc) and what bit rate you desire (variable bit rtae is even an option). I joined about a month ago (having seen it mentioned on the messageboards at emusic, ironically) and have been thoroughly impressed.
posted by warhol at 6:20 PM on October 9, 2003


oh well, guess I gotta go say hello to an old friend: KaZaa.
posted by omidius at 8:06 PM on October 9, 2003


otherwise, I'm not sure what the perfect "pay" model is yet.

Anyone check out Megatune yet?
posted by a_green_man at 11:53 PM on October 9, 2003


Serious question. I've never understood the whole music thing and don't really know what people are getting out of huge collections.

Wow. Just wow.


Why wow? You wouldn't have a problem with someone who doesn't watch TV, or go to movies. Music, to me, is just white noise to drown out other noises.
posted by obfusciatrist at 12:19 AM on October 10, 2003


Dobb: I wasn't talking about different tracks from the same album... I was talking about different tracks by different artists signed to different music services. The idea of a subscription is good (I think), but I don't want to sign up for subscriptions for each music label.

re: territories. You find a track on emusic that only allows downloading from a territory other than noth America, and I'll take that comment back.
posted by seanyboy at 12:26 AM on October 10, 2003


I just sent emusic/dimensional a nice email asking them to please remove me from all of their mailings, dimensional's other company mailings, and all third party mailings.

I also asked for a copy of the original terms and conditions, and explained that I was very displeased and that most people chose emusic's service because of the "unlimited" nature it had. We'll see if they respond.
posted by djspicerack at 6:32 AM on October 10, 2003


obfusciatrist: It's not that we have a problem with you because you don't like music, it's just that we consider you a soulless shell because you don't like music.[/joke]

Music, to me, is just white noise to drown out other noises.

This is just incomprehensible to me, and I sometimes listen to white noise! (Autechre - Rettic AC)
posted by botono9 at 7:52 AM on October 11, 2003


great list title
posted by donth at 12:04 PM on October 12, 2003


You wouldn't have a problem with someone who doesn't watch TV, or go to movies.

Music is almost certainly one of the original human artforms, though, maybe even the oldest one. It is the closest thing to a universal appreciation that we have. So yes, while intellectually one can understand that there are people who don't appreciate music, it's still startling to run across them.

I will say that when I was on Paxil, my ability to appreciate music virtually disappeared. I could hear the sounds, but they did not engage me. It was like becoming half-deaf. I might have found this depressing -- if I weren't on an antidepressant! So probably there is some mechanism in the brain that appreciates music, which can be either interfered with by drugs, or simply non-functional congenitally.
posted by kindall at 1:54 PM on October 12, 2003


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