Nevermind iTunes, EMI Music is going direct to fans with the surprise launch of a new EMI.com site featuring playlists, recommendations and, soon, the ability to purchase tracks from the label’s artists. The new EMI.com – currently in “beta”, just like EMI itself nowadays – is first and foremost a music discovery platform, full of artist bios, galleries, music and videos. But this new site goes farther than regular label repertoire sites, borrowing from social platforms like Last.fm by offering user-led charts, by allowing users to search for artists that sound like other artists (even those not on EMI’s books) and by asking visitors to create a profile that will let them add playable tracks to manageable playlists.
Coming soon, EMI.com – built by Shamsa Rana with Perform – will offer embeddable widgets and a retail option that, we understand, may be powered by DRM-free specialist 7digital. There will also be interviews, concerts and back-stage footage. Digital special projects VP Alex Haar, in the release, calls EMI.com a “learning lab” and “the beginning of a longer term experiment”. EMI told us it’s not designed to compete with services like iTunes Store, YouTube or Last.fm – indeed, most music fans consume tunes from multiple labels. But EMI just volunteered to become another fully-fledged music destination site among many, in one of its first significant digital initiatives since the Terra Firma buy-out.
Update: More 7digital business today – California-based online try-and-buy site TrialPay has tapped the music distributor to offer 15 free tracks to users who try out products on behalf of clients including LoveFilm and VistaPrint.