Blog Post

eMusic Gets Its First Major – But Sony Only Gives Its Long Tail

imageEleven years after it opened up shop, eMusic has finally won its first major-label repertoire, in the shape of Sony (NYSE: SNE) Music Entertainment – but the label is only consenting to give tunes older than two years. eMusic started in 1998, but the combination of its pre-pay subscription plan and DRM-free MP3s have made it unpalatable to everyone bar the indies. In that time, it claims to have attracted over 400,000 customers, each paying at least $11.99 a month for 24 songs…

In the last two years, during which the proportion of music downloads that are illegal rose to 95 percent by the record industry’s own estimates, labels have finally come around to the idea of DRM-free a la carte track downloads. eMusic site reckons its core demographic of over-25s are less prone to copy. But combining an unlimited all-you-can-eat download plan with no copying locks may still give labels the jitters.

SME, whose 50 percent BMG stake was bought out by Sony last year, is coming aboard with archive tracks – but isn’t risking letting its hottest new releases go in to the wild. So this deal will bring eMusic customers material from the likes of Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen, but the latest from artists like of Ciara, Britney Spears and Usher will be missing. NYT: “As part of the deal, eMusic says it will slightly raise prices and reduce the number of downloads for some of its monthly plans.”

(Photo: Sister72, some rights reserved)

6 Responses to “eMusic Gets Its First Major – But Sony Only Gives Its Long Tail”

  1. Rob Levine

    >>>So this deal will bring eMusic customers material from the likes of Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen

    In exactly what parallel universe are Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Lenard Cohen in the Long Tail?

  2. Matt F

    Yes in theory Eric we are being mistreated but don't act like music piracy isn't rampant. It will only increase exponentially as the next generations see downloading online as the current standard versus buying CD or vinyl. Almost everyone does it….certainly everybody under 30 downloads illegally or has done it in the past. Napster & other P2P services and the MP3 codec have been popular for 10+ years now.

    We will pay because society doesnt give a f***. Its unfortunate but the majority of people seem not to care about intellectual property just as they seem not to care that they are being indirectly charged taxes on their internet bills, blank CD's, etc for implied piracy. it works i guess

  3. On eMusic I could afford to be adventurous and sample all kinds of things. Now, not so much. And why? So I can access to downloading loads of music I already know about? Meaning I already own it or don't care to.

    I wouldn't download Thriller for a ¢01 let alone ¢41/track.

    Feels like eMusic was completely unaware of their core customer.

    We're talking about this on the rock blog, http://www.rocktownhall.com/blogs/index.php/2009/06/02/i-m-so-mad-at-my-emusic

  4. "eMusic has finally won its first major-label repertoire" is incorrect. The service was owned by Vivendi Universal prior to Dimensional Associates and offered Universal Music albums and tracks for download for a brief period.

  5. "during which the proportion of music downloads that are illegal rose to 95 percent by the record industry’s own estimates"

    i love it when an industry is allowed to create its own completely accepted statistics like this. 95%!?!!!! come on, now. don't you think the record companies are going too far? this whole piracy thing is ridiculous. we are already forced to pay additional fees in the US, simply by buying blank cd's no matter if they will have music on them or not. now, they are suing teenagers, getting universities to charge add'tl tuition fees, and possibly charging you extra money on your internet bill. EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT FOUND GUILTY, YOU WILL PAY.

  6. "…combining an unlimited download plan with no copying locks may still give labels the jitters", but only if eMusic actually allowed unlimited downloads, which it does not. (It did once, but not for several years now.) The eMusic model is to sell a fixed number of downloads per month for a set price; for example, the current eMusic Basic plan (prior to the presumed price increase) offers 30 downloads for $11.99 per month, or $0.40 per download. Unused downloads do not roll over from month to month, so in practice the per-track revenue to eMusic is somewhat higher than the published pricing would indicate.