Hypebot Readers React To eMusic’s Sony Addition

Hypebot readers added their voices to strong reaction from eMusic users after the formerly all-indie subscription service added catalog from Sony along with raising its prices and lowering monthly download limits.

Emusic "Simply put, I don't know who this serves as the most passionate eMusic subscribers are there for the indies and the people who would be most interested in this deal aren't going to subscribe to get this music. Despite how they are spinning it, the addition of the biggest of the majors will change the identity of eMusic and I don't think it's going to be for the better." – Captain Wrong

"I love
the eMusic model
– it has long been my favorite way to buy music
online, and I've been there since the beginning. I really don't care
one way or another about Sony being added – it's a nice affirmation
that the eMusic model can work with the majors, but what is truly
disappointing is the scope of the download package changes
." – Jordon Pastepunk

From an
Indie Label
stand point, I like eMusic, but I don't like this move at
. This is the Majors way of tapping the indie market and lure
customers away from solid Indies. – Joshua Street

been an emusic subscriber for a few years, and I think I am jumping
ship when my subscription expires
. The appeal of the service to me is
the cost. Disgruntled

More comments here and here.

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  1. I’ve cooled down a little since that quote above. Still stand by it though. There were a couple comments from eMusic representatives yesterday that have gotten buried in the various “I’m leaving” messages. Yancy confirmed one thing that I had assumed; this increase was going to have to occur, SonyBMG or not. As he put it, there were simply too many of us grandfathered to sustain the business model as it was. That and he kind of implied that eMusic was in danger of losing still more labels (and having difficulty attracting new ones) at the current rates.
    I’m an artist who is selling my music on eMusic (Yuki is the band right here) and what we get from eMusic is a little less than half what we get at other retailers. We have no overhead and aren’t trying to make a living at this, so eMusic is kind of long tail sales for us. However, as someone on the artist side, I can completely see how a bigger label like Drag City might not be able to make things work at their rates.
    My feelings a few days later, and it seems many of the cooler heads on the eMusic boards agree, is that the biggest problem is the way this was handled. That longtime subscribers had to find out their rates were increasing by 100% or more from reading the company blog was unacceptable. A lot of people are still taking the broken promise of the grandfathered plans very personally. (I believe the wording when it happened was close to “we’ll never raise your rates again as long as you remain a member in good standing”.) While it’s still quite a shock to the system, the less emotional side of me understands that the lower rates just weren’t working anymore (see comments from any of the larger labels that have left.) I also think a lot of us feel that a company who has so fiercely championed independents would have made a much better move to bring in this new rate on the back of one of the bigger and most requested indies like a Sub Pop rather than the biggest of the major labels.
    As silly as it may sound, many of us felt an honest feeling of community at eMusic and I think the biggest thing is that eMusic violated that sense by handling this rate change so poorly. Many people on the boards have written that if they’d just been sent an email explaining the situation, that the company just wasn’t sustainable and was in danger of losing more labels at the current rates, while no one would be thrilled about it, there would be a lot more understanding and acceptance of the situation. That’s how they used to do things, and it was always refreshing to me that eMusic treated their customers with such respect and honesty.
    As it was handled, a blog post trumpeting the back catalog of SonyBMG and, by the way, umm…your rates are going up just a wee little bit (100%+), I think people feel like eMusic has stopped being straight with their customers. The rate changes and addition of a major label were shocking enough, but the thoughtless statements laced with corporate speak that were just thrown out to be missed if you don’t read their blog seems to be a much worse sign for the future.
    If anyone from eMusic is reading this, as a long time subscriber, I think you could have saved yourselves a lot of headaches and lost subscriptions if you’d just handled this better. Your biggest asset is a very loyal subscriber base who are feeling betrayed by the impersonal and, well, corporate way this was rolled out. I think most of us could bear a rate increase knowing it would be adding more indies to the roster and preventing further ones from leaving. But, wrapping this in age old SonyBMG back catalog that pretty much everyone who is interested in already owns, just wasn’t the way to get to us after years of being all about the independents.
    Sorry for the length of this post but thanks for letting me vent.

  2. 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

  3. From a business stand point it is like eMusic didnt even understand their customer base, let alone listen to them. They could not have made a worse move! Whoever made this call should be fired.

  4. Wow, I thought the “selling out” conversations died in the early 90’s. Did anyone notice that for some customers they are grandfathering in the old rates? Personally I’m happy I can legitimately fill in my back catalog at a much deeper discount. Emusic has probably hit a revenue plateau and the only way to break through of it is to add major label content. It’s actually a bold move for SONY to come off the mountain and show we’re moving from a high-margin unit based music economy to an ARPU driven model.

  5. Oh, and while I guess getting less for the same rate isn’t the greatest news… I’m still happy, IMO their catalog was getting a little stale.

  6. The speculation about eMusic’s price increase being tied to the addition of the Sony catalog becomes difficult to deny when you consider that current emusic members in the UK, EU and Canada, unlike those in the U.S., are not being forced to adopt new and more expensive plans…the ‘coincidence’ being that the Sony catalog is not yet available in those countries.
    Q: Will the Sony catalog become available to subscribers in the UK, EU and Canada?
    A: We will be making the Sony catalog available to members in the UK, EU and Canada. We don’t currently have a timetable for when this will happen but we are actively working on it.
    Q: Are prices changing in the UK, EU and Canada?
    A: Current members will see no change. Prices for new members will change. We’re doing this for two reasons: To help attract new labels and bring back those we all miss and keep us where we need to be as a business.

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