Comment posted to eMusic’s blog

As a long-time customer of eMusic, I feel like eMusic has sold its soul to the devil by changing its subscription model in exchange for the Sony Music catalog. Seeing higher prices per song is disappointing, but not surprising. eMusic’s amazing pricing plans were inevitably going to change to attract bigger labels, and I think eMusic customers could have lived with that. Even limiting the number of times customers can download a song is annoying, but still better than many other online music stores.

But Sony has also inflicted it’s misaligned digital value model on eMusic. Many “Albums” on Sony labels now count as 12 downloads — no matter how many tracks they have. Why, why, WHY? In eMusic’s earlier model, each song in an album counted as a download. If an album had 5 tracks, it cost 5 downloads. If it had 32, it cost 32. We were OK with that. We preferred that. It was simple, and it worked.

What is INEXCUSABLE, however, is that eMusic has changed its download model to address the music industry’s unwillingness to offer à la carte downloads. Many songs are now “locked” to an album — unavailable unless you waste points on songs you don’t also want by downloading the entire album. And oftentimes that album price is fixed at 12 points — even when it contains less than 12 tracks.

Sony needs to hear a message from its consumers and from its distributors that this will not stand. eMusic needs to realize that pandering to the music industry’s disregard for consumers is NOT the right business model.

Am I glad that Sony music is available on eMusic? Sure, but not at this cost. I’m not talking about the price per song — I’m talking about the price of corrupting one of the industry’s best distribution models. So I’ll download some more music — maybe even Sony music — while my current prepaid subscription is active. Then I’m out.

Sorry eMusic. You screwed up here. And I find it hard to believe you don’t see it that way, too.

On eMusic’s blog, 17 dots, there are nearly 2000 comments in response to eMusic’s announcement about the Sony deal. So many comments that mine, though accepted, is not visible. Scanning through the lot, the feedback seems largely negative. No surprise there.

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