Digital Music

eMusic Relaunches With Variable Pricing

image from t1.gstatic.com Amid a controversy over the departure of three key indie labels, eMusic has relaunched offering fewer free bonus tracks and a variable pricing model that raises the track price for most subscribers. Monthly subscriptions now range from $11.99 for up to 24 tracks to $35.99 for up to 73 tracks. "Up to" is key in the new eMusic pricing because tracks are now individually valued at between $.49 and $.89 each.


Track prices vary according to newness and popularity and appear to be set by each label. Previously, e  Music valued all tracks equally at an average much closer to $.50 a track. New subscribers were once also offered as many as 75 free tracks. Now bonuses range from $2.50 to $10.00 plus short term discounts on more expensive plans.

The upside for eMusic subscribers is the addition of 250,000 from Universal plus new product from Sony and WMG. Concessions to get major label product almost certainly led to the new pricing structure. But that same new pricing also caused the exit of the Domino, Merge and the Beggars Group labels, and could encourage some subscribers to leave as well.

eMusic is betting that the major label product  – a feature that is not currently clear until after users sign up – can help it attract new customers and is planning a major marketing push spread that message.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve been subscribing to eMusic for 3 years now – started at 9.99 a month for 30 downloads and went up to 11.99 back in 08. As a musician myself I don’t pirate tracks – I’ll listen to a million things but if I want to own the track I buy it.
    I’ve always thought the 99 cent price point created by Apple was too much for a download – and sure – I’ll buy from iTunes if I have to but generally I will buy from eMusic or from Amazon when they’re offering deals.
    I loved eMusic – they had some really great Indie and back catalog stuff and I was happy to pay them $140 a year – I’d pick up 2 albums a month and listen to series of singles which if I liked I would then go back and maybe buy the album next month or purchase a booster.
    So – my 30 downloads a month have just turned into a credit of $13.99 and from what I can see – that’s gonna get me 1 album and maybe a track or two – bummer.
    Just before they made the transition to the new model they sent out a questionnaire to subscribers and from the questions it was apparent they were trying to ascertain how important their value adds were: editorial, recommendations, community etc – bottom line to me anyway is that I don’t care – my music recommendations come from everywhere and the editorial is interesting but hardly worth paying for and who needs another community?
    eMusic is now just another online music store selling downloads – and without Apples hardware lock-in – is anybody really convinced that owning an online digital music store is the future?
    Unsubscribe.

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