eMusic Wants to Get into DRM-Free Video

eMusic, the MP3-only music seller, is trying to break out into offering video, CEO David Pakman told NewTeeVee on Friday. But the company would only do so if networks and studios would agree to let it sell DRM-free MPEG-4 files.

eMusic has built a good business selling music subscriptions without ever signing major labels, however as more mainstream sellers like iTunes and Amazon now sell MP3s, eMusic’s pioneering work may be done. Personally, with my tastes and especially since my harddrives seem to die all the time, eating my iTunes purchases, I’m quite happy with my eMusic subscription.

Pakman said he’s looking specifically at adding television shows to his catalog, given the economics of selling content online. But there aren’t many indie TV shows, so eMusic is going to have to get the big guys on board to make this work. Reflecting on the music industry, Pakman said, “We don’t think networks and studios have felt the pain yet,” so he estimated it will be at least a year to get such a service off the ground. However Pakman was optimistic about such market forces coming to bear, given declining DVD sales, peer-to-peer file-sharing, and the ease of downloading streamed content. Still, it’ll be a tough row to hoe.

Update: An eMusic spokesperson clarifies,

“Our primary goal is to license ‘long tail’ television programs – shows that were cancelled long ago, didn’t make it on the air, and of course classic and obscure programs that were well-loved when they were on the air, e.g. The Rockford Files or The Magician with Bill Bixby. We are not aiming for Lost and Desperate Housewives. We believe that there is a market for these programs with our target audience (adults age 25+) that can generate incremental revenue for television studios.”