Did eMusic Miscalculate Reaction To Sony Deal?

Emusic Yesterday eMusic announced that it was adding catalog from Sony Music to its previously indie-only subscription service.  Hypebot heard from indie movers and shakers throughout the day about concerns that they might be forced to take a back seat to the major label on the site, how payments to labels will drop and speculation that Sony was getting a better deal than the indies.

With long term subsriptions and a desire to grab some Sony tracks at a deep discount, it may be months before the effect on subscriber numbers is known.  But nowhere was the reaction to Sony coming on board stronger than on eMusic's own message board.  Commenting on changes in pricing and download caps that resulted from the deal, eMusic subscribers were almost universally disappointed:

Jellybones: Thank you eMusic. Its been a good run here for me. I love emusic, been here over 5 years. But I can't afford my tracks to be cut by 2/3 for the same price.

90 downloads will become 35. Sorry, not worth it for the selection. I can go buy a couple albums (maybe only 2 instead of 3) but I can get exactly what I want.

Kez RE: I feel sold out. It seems eMusic is enraptured with the dazzle of their future customer-trolls and have cast aside their loyal member base.

From the UK xtrev:   As noted down in the bowels of the 'Major label…' thread, the new more expensive price plans have appeared on site today. Including Booster prices. Damn.

Don't think I'll be buying many more 50 track boosters at 20.99 UK pounds. That's a HUGE increase over the previous 14.99. If this is an example of what it means to have major label content here, then frankly they can shove it.

btx: Except for very rare circumstances, I'm not particularly interested in giving my cash to the major labels, that's why I come here. If it is going to cost me more for their presence [evenifIshouldchoosenottodownloadtheirstuff], that may be the end for me.

d.w.: “Effective Jul 6, 2009, your plan will change to the new eMusic Plus plan which gives you 37 downloads for $14.99 every 30 days.

We’re sorry that we’ve had to retire your current plan, but we’re confident that you’ll find even more music to love among the many new additions to the music catalog. And of course, you can always choose a different plan by visiting the Plan Options page within Your Account.”

My current plan is (grandfathered) 65 tracks per month for $14.99. This means that your Sony deal results in a 100% per track price increase over what I’m paying currently.

I appreciate(?) that you’ll be adding a lot of music from major labels that I could frankly not give a crap about (Alicia Keys — really?), but literally halving the amount of tracks I get on my current plan is a bit much to take. I’ve been a subscriber since 2000, but I am seriously considering canceling at this point.

More: eMusic Adds Sony, But Could Pay A Price

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  1. 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.
    Not to mention those of us who “locked in” our old plans with the word that our rates would hold for as long as we are members in good standing are more than a little miffed to see always and forever meant about two years to eMusic. I think most of us understand that rates tend to go up, but I think we all feel blindsided by the way they went about this, adding insult to injury.
    On the plus side, assuming Sony didn’t get a sweetheart deal, this should result in a higher per track rate for everyone. That is, assuming the higher rates will compensate for the lost customers, and I’m not sure it will (see the iTunes $1.29 price point.)
    From reaction on their boards, eMusic had the kind of fierce loyalty companies kill for and this change, and the way it was sprung on users, has put a lot of bad faith between everyone. And I don’t think the addition of 30 and 40 year old Springsteen and Dylan albums is going to bring the masses into a subscription service. Of course, as some are speculating, this could be a last ditch, sink or swim effort to say open, in which case all the arguing and gnashing of teeth is irrelevant as the old eMusic was dead anyway, with or without Sony.
    Yesterday I was really miffed. Today I’m a little cooler. Still dissapointed, still unsure if I’ll continue after my annual subscription expires. But the biggest thing is I feel this is a company that has tried to build a community of sorts and we all got blindsided yesterday by some major changes than no one could have seen coming. I think that’s where most of us are, still reeling over the “slight increase.” And the silence from those running the show is getting deafening.

  2. 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. My grandfathered 90 downloads for $19.99 is now becoming a 50 downloads for $19.99. That’s a 44% reduction, which is simply ludicrous. In what industry is that kind of price/value adjustment acceptable? And I really think with ‘other’ non-commercial opportunities available to download music online, eMusic has grossly underestimated how thin a reed their subscribers are holding on to. I want to stay a subscriber and I want to see eMusic’s model succeed and thrive, but I also want my 90 downloads back. I can ‘upgrade’ to 75 dls for $30.99. Gee. Thanks.

  3. emusic have lost what differentiates them from other sites. My feeling is Limewire’s legit mp3 store also full of indies have basically KO’d emusic. With 100 times more traffic going to Limewire than emusic, Limewire will be converting a large amount of that traffic to it’s store.
    rhapsody and napster really have an identity crisis and have basically tried all models to see what might stick. Emusic is heading in the same direction. They’re f*****!!

  4. As a subscriber, I liked eMusic’s indie content, but thought that the quality of their mp3s was poor compared to other retailers, and it was this latter fact that made me drop my subscription.
    As a content provider, I find that although eMusic did good numbers, the PPD was so much lower than other a la carte retailers, that after mechanical royalties were paid, there was very little left over, often slightly over 10 cents per track after you take out the distributors fee. The volume was not substantially better enough to make this worth it.
    Will this price increase result in a higher PPD for all content suppliers?

  5. I have to admit that I’m one of those people that rarely downloaded my full quota. So I’ll ssee hw this affects me. But I really understand the above comments. eMusic is/was a great location for finding music.

  6. “But the biggest thing is I feel this is a company that has tried to build a community of sorts and we all got blindsided yesterday by some major changes than no one could have seen coming. I think that’s where most of us are, still reeling over the “slight increase.” And the silence from those running the show is getting deafening.”
    I’ve use emusic for years and basically loved it, but they have been terrible about communicating about changes – this is just the worst example of it, and seems like it could tank them. For all that the internet is supposed be about interaction & communication, I’m surprised at the number of web services that fail to do these things with their users.
    Haven’t cancelled yet, but considering it.

  7. Their corporate communications introducing the price increase was cynical and they knew it. Pretending to care enough to listen doesn’t cut it when the ink has already dried and the rollout is so callous.
    I mean, what were emusic thinking? Could they have screwed up more royally? Could they have enraged what seems to be a very loyal customer base even more? Could they have achieved more negative word of mouth? Doubtful.
    I for one have already cancelled my 100 dl/pm subscription. I will not tolerate having my subs slashed by half and then paying nearly double for the privilege.
    If you’re reading this emusic, go **** yourself.

  8. as a long-time emusic subscriber, i feel betrayed. i loved the access to indie, ethnic, and other non-mainstream music genres. i convinced my friends to join. now, not only am i rewarded for years of faithfulness and cheerleading by a sudden doubling of the pricing, but there is no indication that the musicians i’ve been supporting will see increased revenues as a result of my doubled fees. if emusic wanted to charge more for the sony catalog, go right ahead. i’m unlikely to give much of a damn. but to backslap their longest term supporters in this way is an insult. an insult that is likely to undermine the very support that no doubt allowed them to enter the discussions with sony. my love affair with emusic is now officially over.

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