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June 4, 2009 10:51 PM   Subscribe

eMusic lands Sony! Growing up or selling out?
posted by mazola (46 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The site says I've been "grandfathered" in, or something.

I was kind of turned off because, at the end of the first month I didn't use all my credits and they kind of take those and don't give them back.
posted by hellojed at 11:04 PM on June 4, 2009


hellojed: Limited downloads per month + lack of rollover? That's part of their business model.

I've been using emusic for about a year, I don't plan to stop, but I also don't plan to take much advantage of Sony's offerings. A lot of emusic users are up in arms about this because emusic did a terrible PR job in announcing two major changes.

First, they're making everyone pay the current rate. This is a big deal because some users, depending on how long they've had active accounts, have ridiculously cheap deals "grandfathered in" with emusic. When I started, I was paying $14.99 a month for 50 mp3 downloads. Some people, who have been there since it was unlimited monthly downloads (when they first started) are used to paying $14.99/month for 90+ downloads. People with pay-once-a-year plans have even better rates. However, the metric emusic and its affiliate labels track payment is price-per-download. So emusic has finally taken care of its wildly divergent price-per-track by bringing everyone to ~$0.40 per track. For long time users, this is a huge rate hike. My rate is going from $15 to $20 for 50 drm-free, high-quality mp3 downloads monthly.

Second, emusic's userbase is mostly jazz, classical, and indie music aficionados. Adding access to 2+ year old Beyonce albums is not a big draw for their hardcore users. This wouldn't be a big deal, but a vocal group of these users is convinced that the aforementioned rate hike is because of the Sony deal, which doesn't actually seem to be the case.

So everyone is freaking out because they'll have to pay more and get less, and emusic piles on a separate announcement which further agitates their userbase. Neither of the moves are bad ones--I think they're necessary and should be expected from the growing company--but emusic definitely screwed up by announcing them simultaneously.

It's also worth noting that they announced this with a sticky on their home page but not an email to their users. Pretty frustrating to log into the site and find out about the changes without a psuedo-personal inbox news delivery.)
posted by sleeping bear at 11:44 PM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Capping the album rate at 12 tracks is a good offset to the lower download limit though.
There are a handful of albums I've avoided because they had a bunch of short tracks.
posted by 2sheets at 11:48 PM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've been a loyal customer since they first stared and now I feel very disappointed by their changes over the past year. Feels strange reading this FPP, because I just wrote them an email earlier today expressing my disappointment.
posted by special-k at 11:56 PM on June 4, 2009


I'm very unhappy. I've been paying $25 for 100 a month, now they want to charge $20 a month (20% less) for 50 downloads a month (50% less). Charging more for less, great strategy in a recession.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:56 PM on June 4, 2009


Some people are really pissed off.
posted by tellurian at 12:08 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm unhappy not so much about the pricing but about

a) I had to find out about it on Metafilter. Christ, way to do customer service.

b) I live in Australia, so I'm not going to *get* anything for the extra money.

I like supporting indie music, but emusic needs to realise I can download this stuff for free. When my membership is notably limited compared to what others are getting for the same price, that's when I start getting narky.

Hmmmm, have to think about this.
posted by smoke at 12:10 AM on June 5, 2009


This is awesome.. was never into eMusic..
posted by ChickenringNYC at 12:20 AM on June 5, 2009


I like supporting indie music, but emusic needs to realise I can download this stuff for free. When my membership is notably limited compared to what others are getting for the same price, that's when I start getting narky.

What's in bold is exactly where I've been for the last 10+ years. Fuck paying for recorded music.
posted by item at 12:23 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I say this as a published musician & a member of ASCAP.
posted by item at 12:23 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do they still spam? I heard they did, so when I signed up, I used a temp. address. After a month or two, I thought I'd heard an internet rumor, but then I too started getting spam from them. And, I hadn't given that address to anyone else.

They'll probably start emailing root kits now that they are merging with Sony.
posted by philomathoholic at 12:34 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've been a subscriber for more than 6 years, since the unlimited days, so I'm going from 90 downloads for $20 a month to 50 at the same price. I'd leave, primarily because I dread having to wade through 200,000 shitty Sony albums, but there's really nowhere else to go.

And the last time they made a subscription level change they "guaranteed" that my account would always be grandfathered in if I was happy with it, so I'm annoyed they didn't even bother to email me to tell me.
posted by cmonkey at 12:43 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do they still spam? I heard they did, so when I signed up, I used a temp. address. After a month or two, I thought I'd heard an internet rumor, but then I too started getting spam from them. And, I hadn't given that address to anyone else.

Strange but I've had quite a bit of spam on my emusic address as well, an address that I've used nowhere else. But it's just run of the mill spam there so I assumed it was scraped by a 'bot off an emusic page somehow. Any ideas?
posted by outlier at 2:14 AM on June 5, 2009


Yup, I'm going from 200 tracks per month for $50.00 to 100 tracks per month for $41.00. Bother. They're not even offering a 200 track per month option anymore. 200 tracks a month meant it was okay to experiment wildly-- if half of a given month's haul turned out to be awful, it didn't matter. Many of my current favorite albums are things I downloaded blind or nearly blind. Peruvian proto-surf music? Sure! Let's give it a whirl! Sound scultpure from rural Saskatchewan? Avant-garde trombone and digeridoo, recorded in a gigantic, disused cistern? Hell yeah!

I found many, many treasures through indiscriminate downloading via Emusic, and I'm really going to miss that. 100 tracks per month will still allow for significant experimentation, but I know I'll feel like a chump when I end up paying $6.00 for an album of unlistenable crap, and that will take a lot of the fun out of it.

Have to say, I think I'd be 100% okay about the change if the label they were adding was Tzadik. I'd surrender my extra dowloads gladly if it meant I could vulch up (almost) all the John Zorn I wanted. The facilitated access to Michael Jackson's back-catalog just isn't going to balm this particular wound.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:25 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


What I've enjoyed about eMusic is how it's reproduced some of the experience of the independent record shop- you don't know what you'll find, and if you like something, you better snap it up, 'cause it might not be there later. And there's been knowledgeable clerks and customers to hook you up with good records. Some mainstream artists have appeared and disappeared without much warning for years (White Stripes, ABKCO-era Rolling Stones). But it's especially good for guiding you through sub genres. If you liked Jay Reatard or Burial or High On Fire, you could get some guidance as to other garage punk, dubstep or stoner metal you might like.

Sony has the potential of adding a whole new dimension to the store- it's like it's getting a cutout bin (two year old Beyonce records, as mentioned above). But the biggest effect, by virtue of owning the Columbia and Okey back catalog, the vast repository of pre-60s jazz and country. If that stuff shows up, it's like they've picked up a cranky old 78s collector. And that would be really great. If they can continue their curatorial efforts on this vast chunk of music, it would still be worth the price hike. I hope this gem shows up, for instance- an early 70s comp that's like a wonky mixtape of the vaudeville side of jazz and R&B- Butterbeans and Susie at one end, Aretha Franklin at the other.
posted by bendybendy at 5:09 AM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


eMusic is pretty much the only option we have in India to legally download music. Everyone I know regularly torrents music here as there is really NO option to buy anything outside the most mainstream music, even in record stores.

So it's particularly galling that my price went up, my downloads went down, and now I am paying extra to subsidize US downloading of tracks from major labels that I won't even be able to access here in India.

The folks who are getting their music free from bittorrent? They're all laughing at me.
posted by vanar sena at 5:16 AM on June 5, 2009


Oh, the other thing pissing me off is they clearly haven't even sorted it properly.

The message I get on login is that my downloads are reducing to 30 a month on "basic", yet when I go to my account screen, it says the basic plan is 24. What's it going to be emusic, 24 or 30???
posted by smoke at 5:21 AM on June 5, 2009


smoke, you got grandfathered. Your plan options page should say that you are in a non-standard plan and that if you change it you can't go back. The standard basic plan is 24 tracks.
posted by vanar sena at 5:40 AM on June 5, 2009


I'm surprised that they went with the simple title "new eMusic basic plan" for what they're foisting on me. I have to give them at least a little credit for not calling it something like The New Platinum eMusic Basic Freedom Plan!
posted by otolith at 5:44 AM on June 5, 2009


I'd suspended my account a few months ago (after downloading a ton off of their top 100 albums list). After seeing this post I went and checked and it's still listing my account as 65 downloads for $15/mo. Now I'm wondering if that'll change when/if I reactivate my account. Hmmm...

Like several others, I like eMusic for finding stuff I'd not have found otherwise--it was Frightened Rabbit and Hauschka this last go around.
posted by elfgirl at 5:47 AM on June 5, 2009


They're upping my cost per song by 92 percent.
posted by Flunkie at 6:03 AM on June 5, 2009


So this money thing, you use it like a ratio?
posted by geoff. at 6:05 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


First, they're making everyone pay the current rate. This is a big deal because some users, depending on how long they've had active accounts, have ridiculously cheap deals "grandfathered in" with emusic.

That's the truth.

My old plan was $95.90/year for 40 tracks/month (480/year). $0.20 each.
My new plan is $95.90/180 days for 210 tracks total. $0.46 each.

Given that... switching from a monthly limit to a biannual limit does work better for me. There are honestly lots of months where I forget I have an emusic account at all. So I get 0 tracks for my $8. And there's no banking or anything, so that $8 is just lost.
posted by smackfu at 6:25 AM on June 5, 2009


I have liked these guys, for their rare selection and their customer service (anecdotally - a very good experience). And even though they grandfathered me in on a previous big change, I realize nothing is too good to be true, so I don't really have a problem with the reduction in downloads per month for this change. Honestly, I was straining to find something to download if I wasn't paying attention for a month.

It just bugs me how so many companies like this will tell you that "you'll be grandfathered forever" when they know it's not a promise they can keep. I mean, I'm sure they do their best to put that stuff in the fine print, but still...
posted by greasepig at 6:30 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm reserving my judgement till I see how much of the Columbia Masterworks and RCA Red Seal titles make it into the catalog.
posted by NemesisVex at 6:34 AM on June 5, 2009


Hmm, in Canada they seem to have sneakily upped the price - and yet don't have the Sony catalogue available, and don't cap out albums at 12 tracks. My old plan was $230.30/year (~ USD209) for 75 tracks every 30 days; just over a quarter a track. The equivalent plan is now $0.41/track. Nice.
posted by scruss at 6:56 AM on June 5, 2009


Ouch. I'm on a grandfathered-in annual plan of 65 tracks/ month for $142/year. Emusic merrily informs me that I'll be converted to a 24 tracks/month for $130 plan when I renew! 18cpt to 45cpt... a 250% increase. The value's just not there for me anymore.

Dearest Emusic,

Emusic, we've had a good run -- maybe too good to be true -- but I think this is the end of our relationship. I mean, I had to find out about your new needs via MeFi. You couldn't even tell me yourself. That's low.

Don't call. Don't write. I don't want to hear it. I'll be too busy at Amoeba, or Reckless Records, or Bleecker Bob's, to heed your pleas.

But hey, no hard feelings, either, old chum.

Auf wiedersehen,

theoddball
posted by theoddball at 6:58 AM on June 5, 2009


It's weird that they go "here is your new plan" and "here are the old plans you can choose from", but not "here are the new plans you can choose from".
posted by smackfu at 7:37 AM on June 5, 2009


18cpt to 45cpt... a 250% increase.
That's a 150% increase, actually.

Bad enough, certainly, but still.
posted by Flunkie at 7:38 AM on June 5, 2009


I have used eMusic since it's unlimited download/month days (you should have seen the smoke pouring from my computer when they announced two weeks till the subscription system) and have always been happy with the service. Until now, that is.

Strangely, I'd somehow have felt better had I received an email as such:

"Mazola: You have sucked our teat long enough. We've never made a dime off of you. We're (trying) to run a business and we're raising our rates. Pay up or get lost. Thanks! -- eMusic.com"

This confluence of raising rates w/addition of Sony may be totally unrelated, but it totally hits all the wrong notes.

And just when were they going to inform their subscribers? Were they waiting to personally tell everyone during the deluge of customer support phone calls around billing time?

This whole thing surprises me because eMusic is better than that.
posted by mazola at 7:59 AM on June 5, 2009


I can download this stuff for free.

What's in bold is exactly where I've been for the last 10+ years. Fuck paying for recorded music.


Here be dragons derail territory no doubt, but come on. You are so above paying for things that people spend time, money, and life producing. Good for you.
posted by kingbenny at 8:27 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Sony catalogue is HUGE. And I know they used to have Tzadik, since that was one of the ridiculously great deals there, picking up whole Zorn albums (and then for a while Zorn made it so that you couldn't download certain tracks unless you paid for the whole album, and then he changed to just not being able to get those tracks at all, which was obnoxious).
posted by klangklangston at 8:53 AM on June 5, 2009


Flunkie

right you are. that'll teach me to try math pre-coffee. whoops.
posted by theoddball at 9:16 AM on June 5, 2009


Some people are really pissed off.

Good link here. The point that cuts through is that one long time Emusic user (a supporter and lover of indie-music) is pissed that he's essentially subsidizing Destiny's Child fans. That has to rate as a "FUCK YOU"!

What's in bold is exactly where I've been for the last 10+ years. Fuck paying for recorded music.

Here be dragons derail territory no doubt, but come on. You are so above paying for things that people spend time, money, and life producing. Good for you.


At the risk of furthering the derail, I disagree with your logic. Don't assume that just because I'm not paying for music I'm not turning around and spending the money saved on something else that "people spend time, money, and life producing." Books for instance, or maybe food.

Bottom line: the only thing that people will dependably pay for is something that they can't for free. Clearly for many in this thread, Emusic has offered this something (mainly convenience, I suspect). Here's hoping this latest permutation in their business model doesn't make a mess of things.
posted by philip-random at 9:31 AM on June 5, 2009


And I know they used to have Tzadik,

Are you sure? I've used emusic for years and do not agree.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:55 AM on June 5, 2009


I get the feeling Sony did this as some sort of desperate attack on Apple's hegemony, but it doesn't matter. Apple is probably going to own at least one major label in a few years, probably lots of them, and will probably buy them for a song (har har). Serious question: how much of the music industry could Apple pick up if it spent its $28 billion war chest on labels?
posted by mullingitover at 9:59 AM on June 5, 2009


It seems they've updated their terms of service on redownloading - now you can download a track up to a maximum of four times after which you pay for it again.

While this is not usually a problem, sometimes their downloader just breaks, so a couple of redownloads is pretty normal. Still, it seems they've decided to concentrate all their pending customer buggery into one big 24-hour thrust.
posted by vanar sena at 10:02 AM on June 5, 2009


Don't assume that just because I'm not paying for music I'm not turning around and spending the money saved on something else that "people spend time, money, and life producing." Books for instance, or maybe food.

Bottom line: the only thing that people will dependably pay for is something that they can't for free.


That logic will work real well in a few years when no one pays for music and musicians say, "Fuck you. I'm done being your dancing monkey."

You're justifying owning music you didn't pay for by saying, "So?! I pay for food, don't I?! What's the problem?" Um, yeah, can't argue with that kind of logic.

I'm curious: what do you do for a living, and how long would you keep doing it if no one paid you?
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:09 AM on June 5, 2009


I'm curious: what do you do for a living, and how long would you keep doing it if no one paid you?

I'm in the arts, including music ... and I know all about getting by on beans and rice.
posted by philip-random at 10:19 AM on June 5, 2009


Limited downloads per month + lack of rollover? That's part of their business model.

And it must be said that was always part of the reason they could charge a lot less than iTunes. They knew a lot of those downloads that people paid for were going unused, and that was pure profit.

Remember this was the company that at one point had unlimited downloads!
posted by smackfu at 10:50 AM on June 5, 2009


A large portion of the music I've actually purchased (either new, or used) stems directly from the stuff I obtained for free. (In fact more often than not, when I buy an album it's often one that's already on my iPod - I'm slowly buying the rights to own the music I have in my collection, if it's worth keeping.) Without the filesharing I never would have discovered half the artists I like. But when I buy something, I still like to have a physical copy, and I'm wary of online music stores simply because of the number of times I've seen people get burned by service changes (as in the FPP), by file issues (incompatibility in formats, or lossy formats, etc.) or by stupid moves that hurt consumers (a la Microsoft and Plays For Sure). I think the music industry is slowly growing to realize that digital distribution is not going to go away, but so far most of the places that offer it have made such a mess of the whole thing that it's still easier to do it by BitTorrent, by purchasing actual disks new or used, or the oldest method in the book - borrowing a physical album from your friend and making your own copy.

And Sony? Still won't forgive them for the rootkit bullshit. They hurt the customers who buy physical albums, and now they're hurting people who buy digital. Thanks, but no thanks, Sony.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:25 AM on June 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been a loyal emusic customer for years, paying 14.99$ per month for 65 downloads. Now they're lowering me to 37. One of the reasons that I liked emusic was because it was so cheap that I could gamble on things I've never heard before at little loss. My music gathering was usually divided into BitTorrent for things I knew I wanted, and if I couldn't find it there, I would escalate the search and go to Waffles (which still kinda sucks, its no Oink). Then emusic was there for things that sounded cool based on titles or cover art, and it helped me discover a lot of new things. (This is also how I buy fiction books as well.)

I'm actually not _that_mad about the rate hike, but I wonder if emusic's pursuit of bigger names and labels will eventually cause the no name gems to disappear from the site in favor of NOW 1000 artists.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:03 PM on June 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


outlier: "Strange but I've had quite a bit of spam on my emusic address as well, an address that I've used nowhere else. But it's just run of the mill spam there so I assumed it was scraped by a 'bot off an emusic page somehow. Any ideas?"

Mine was pretty generic too, but I figure that it's their fault if they can't keep my address confidential, regardless of the specific method.

I forget what my old address was exactly, but if you search for yours (also try more than just google, since they probably don't all index the same pages) and you find it somewhere, then you'll know how spammers are continuing to find your address. Maybe that'll tell you how it was originally acquired (if it's on an emusic page or something).
posted by philomathoholic at 3:01 PM on June 5, 2009


I'm on eMusic Canada and my account rates have been grandfathered in... Is this too good to be true?
posted by Old Man Wilson at 7:46 PM on June 5, 2009


I've been a loyal eMusic customer for years. It has always been a great place to pick up new music on the cheap. Now it's not quite as cheap, but geeze..it's still pretty cheap.
posted by sleavestherabbit at 7:58 PM on June 5, 2009


Following up on something I've seen mentioned a couple of times in this thread: I don't think they're going to lose focus on non top-40 music with the Sony add. Besides Sony's extensive back catalog, the selling out link in the FPP talks about how they'll connect the new, mainstream content with their current, more indie content and userbase.

Emusic is pretty established in the indie world, actually. They've got a partnership with Pitchfork and advertise on a lot of influential mp3 blogs. Also, they've said nothing to make me doubt that they'll continue their great Emusic Selections program: they discover a new artist, put an album or ep on the site, and promote the heck out of it. I've found some great new artists that way.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:42 PM on June 6, 2009


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