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Summary:

The big news this week is undoubtedly Apple’s announcement of the new iPod product line and the lower price of the iPhone. With new iPods comes a new version of iTunes — 7.4 in this case — but despite The Steve’s Thoughts On Music and NBC’s […]

eMusic The big news this week is undoubtedly Apple’s announcement of the new iPod product line and the lower price of the iPhone. With new iPods comes a new version of iTunes — 7.4 in this case — but despite The Steve’s Thoughts On Music and NBC’s very public departure from the iTunes Store, iTunes purchases are still heavily bolted to the floor with DRM. Even iTunes Plus purchases are watermarked, if not rights-managed.

Fortunately, there’s eMusic, the next largest online music retailer behind the iTunes Store. All songs at eMusic are available in pure MP3 format, encoded with the LAME variable bitrate (VBR) encoder, completely unrestricted by DRM. If your musical tastes are like mine, you’ll find eMusic to be indie music heaven. Many artists available there are unsigned or self-promoted through IODA, the Independent Online Distribution Alliance, but eMusic’s catalog of popular names is formidable as well, including the only DRM-free online version of Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full.

Until recently, though, the eMusic Download Manager has been available only as a PowerPC application, and ran a bit sluggishly under Rosetta on Intel-based Macs. But that has all changed. Meet the brand spankin’ new eMusic Remote 1.0 — available for Windows, Mac (PPC, Intel, and Universal), and Linux.

The new eMusic Remote is built atop the Gecko engine from Mozilla and integrates a browser window with the download manager, allowing eMusic customers to browse, preview, and download all from the same application without having to open a new window or tab in Safari, Firefox, Camino, or other browser.

So for all you readers who are already eMusic subscribers, go download the Technology Preview of the eMusic Remote; I’d like to hear your thoughts on it! Do you like the integrated experience, or would you rather have a slim application that just does the download? Is it just me, or does it actually run faster?

If you’re not an eMusic member, you can get 25 free downloads when you sign up at the website, or if email me at tab (at) paXoo -dot- com, I’ll send you a link to double that for 50 free downloads when you sign up.

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  1. I definitely prefer the standalone app to download from eMusic. It does one simple thing and does it well.

    I’ve got Hazel set up to open the .emp files as soon as my browser’s downloaded them, then to Trash them; so I’ve got a nice downloading setup already.

  2. The thing is eMusic sounds great and it should be great… but it isn’t. It’s annoying. Super crazy annoying.

    Let me count the ways eMusic bugs:
    – horrible interface (it’s been at least 3 years, time for a refresh)
    – spotty selection of music
    – no rollover of monthly credits
    – needs stand alone app… it’s either a web-site or an app: they really need to pick one

    I’ve used it and quit twice and it will talk a lot to get me back as a user (and I like the music they offer). iTunes set the bar high and eMusic just isn’t trying.

  3. @Andrew — That sounds like a good setup, actually. While I consider myself an advanced Mac user, I’ve never really bothered with Hazel or Quicksilver enough to make them work for me. I’m more of a low-level guy: I used to be a Unix kernel programmer, and my terminal window is still always open in OS X.

    @ComicDork — I’m not sure what you mean by horrible interface; you mean the web site or the download manager? I do agree with you about rollover being frustrating, but once you realize it, you plan accordingly, like meals. At least that’s how I do it: my “saved for later” list always has something in it. The selection is sometimes hit or miss, but I would fault the record companies, not eMusic, for that; most of them (especially the Big Four) don’t want to agree to open MP3 downloads, and eMusic won’t do it any other way. As for the standalone app: Here it is. iTunes does set the bar high, and eMusic is trying. The eMusic Remote is a ginormous improvement over the previous interface, lightyears closer to the iTunes interface (without having to reinvent the wheel, thanks to Gecko). I like open music, and I like indie music: eMusic is not perfect, but they’re a great complement to iTunes.

  4. Free Download Requests — I’ve sent links to everyone I’ve received emails from so far. If you emailed me requesting a link and haven’t received an email back, first check your spam folder, and then post a comment here. Thanks!

  5. Hmm, so I liked the new app at first, but after actually using it to download some stuff, I’m kind of wondering “so what?” There isn’t really any more convenience using it than using Firefox and letting the .emp files open in the download manager automatically. In fact, there’s the extra step of having to switch gears from my normal browsing in FF to open up a different browser. Oh well.

  6. @Graham — I think, supposedly, you could install the XPI extension (which is really all that eMusic has added) into your own favorite ‘Fox and have the same functionality. Or, hey, hit ⌘T and pop open another tab inside eMusic Remote! :-)

  7. If you want to try eMusic, go to ,emusic.com/cowon. This gets you 100 free tracks. The music selection these days is pretty good. They have White Stripes, Interpol, Bloc Party, so not just unknown indie bands. That said, I’m not going to purchase a subscription. And also, the remote thingy is UGLY on a Mac.

  8. I tried it with the 100 free tracks. iTunes it ain’t. But, for the price it is a cheap and easy enough way to beef up my collection. The most annoying thing is the way eMusic litters my iTunes library with preview streams.

  9. @Joe — I’m not so fond of that, either, but that’ll happen with any streaming M3U playlists by default. Try setting your browser to have QuickTime handle the .m3u files instead of letting iTunes (the default). When I do that, Firefox opens the playlist inside the QuickTime plugin quite nicely, and no littering of the iTunes library.

  10. @Bill – Can’t get it to work. I’m using eMusic Remote and can’t find a way to add a new file type. They File Types pane has only png and tiff entries and no button to add a new entry. I also looked in about:config, the preferences folder, and the plist in the package and didn’t see any file type entries at all. Any ideas?

    The more I use eMusic Remote the more I like it. But if I was stuck using the original browser interface with Download Manager I would have given up (and did until I went remembered you said to try out the remote instead). Anyways, I have long ignored eMusic so thanks for the post. I’ve gotten a bunch of cool stuff already.

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