Well, when you consider subscriptions are bound to be halved in the coming month, many independent music fans are responding to eMusic’s announcement of the addition of Sony’s back catalog, and subsequent rate changes with disappointment and the predictable threat of mass cancellation. Long considered the best digital bargain for fans of the indies, we’ll use my current subscription as an example of the agony many eMusic customers are feeling today. Personally, I’m going from 100 downloads a month for $24.99 to 50 downloads for $19.99. My other option would be for me to up my plan to 75 downloads for $30.99 per month. Still not the consumer friendly, musical smorgasbord I used to enjoy. To their credit, eMusic is attempting to soften the blow with 25 free downloads in August and a new pricing scheme which will cap album downloads at 12 credits on some albums.
Really, I’m torn by the news. I’m not so much of a music snob that I avoid major labels all together, and if the Sony deal leads to deals with the other majors then this could be a good deal for the consumer in the long run. eMusic’s prices are still more favorable than iTunes, Amazon, and just about every other music e-tailer.
On the label side, this could be a double edged sword. Payouts to the artists will be higher, but with lower volume some may see their take actually go down. Apples recent price hike at the iTunes store hasn’t been as profitable as some labels had imagined it would be, and with an influx of big name talent coming to eMusic’s offerings (Springsteen, The Clash, Modest Mouse, Spiritualized, Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and Pearl Jam to name a few), could the indies be the ones seeing their revenues hit the most. I’d sure hate to see the Matadors and Jagjaguwars of the world lose money to Sony. The majors already enjoy too much of an advantage in the market place and eMusic was one place where the indie was king.
Ultimately, I don’t see myself cancelling my eMusic subscription because of the price hike. Oh, I’ll be bitter about it, and I’ll say things like, “You know, back in the day, I could get 100 downloads for the price of 50,” but in the long run a bargain is still a bargain and even with the downgraded plan eMusic offers a recession friendly way for a music fanatic to get his fix.