Well, it was good while it lasted, but I’ve just downloaded my last album from eMusic.
I was once quite enamoured with this service, so what changed?
Well basically they changed their prices. And by that I mean they increased their prices. And by that I mean their prices went through the roof.
Up until this month you could download 75 tracks/month for US$20. Now, you’ll pay US$31 for those tracks.
Obviously this isn’t the first time that someone has hiked their prices by 50%, but that’s not really the point of this post. Instead it’s the other, extremely deceptive, change that went along with the overt price hike. Your monthly eMusic fee no longer allows you to purchase 75 tracks; instead you’ll get 75 “credits”. They want you think that a credit equates to a single track, but it quite obviously doesn’t. If you’re purchasing by the album (and for many tracks you have to) then the number of credits required almost always exceeds the number of tracks.
For an admittedly extreme example, consider the epic post-rock album Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It has four 20 minute — mind-blowing and highly recommended — tracks. Before the pricing change, this was about 5% of the 75-track monthly quota. Now, downloading this album requires no fewer than 24 credits, which is about a third of quota, and about a 600% increase. None of the tracks can be downloaded individually any more.
So you might think, regardless of the increase, that still works out at just over US$10 for an album, which sounds very fair. But this just begs the question: why don’t they just charge the US$10/album and be done with it?
The subscription plan and the “credits” and all that nonsense is just annoying, and that’s the main reason why I’m leaving. I can pay US$10/album at Amazon and I don’t have to worry about my monthly quota, rollovers, unused credits, the terrible website, the mysteriously “unavailable” albums or individual tracks, and all of the other specific problems with the eMusic service.
I admit I had a good ride. And maybe something had to change at eMusic anyway. The whole premise of charging per track is fraught with problems. The economics of this is predicated on 4 min radio-friendly pop songs, and just doesn’t work out for other types of music.
What I really want is to pay a fixed amount for a fixed duration of music. I’d easily pay US$1 per 10 minutes of music. It seems like absolutely the fairest and simplest way of doing doing things, and the way that eMusic could have changed while still keeping my business.
Failing that I’ll just pay per album. But not at eMusic.