eMusic adds Sony (back) catalog

A little while ago this morning, I tweeted the following:

@soungalo: emusic adding major label (sony) content. nytimes: http://bit.ly/nHhMQ in emusic’s word: http://bit.ly/bslZC my opinions/thoughts l8r”

so now those opinions/thoughts (in macro blog format):

(but first the disclaimer) I work for MediaUnbound, and we have provided the recommendation/personalization for eMusic since November of 2008 (see the 17 dots post announcing this news).

Anyway, from the MUI (MediaUnbound) perspective, this is exciting news (non-officially – check the MUI Blargh for our official perspective). The addition of the Sony back catalog means that we get to help people dig into the amazing catalog that eMusic already has in place using Sony artists as entry points, as well as use the Sony catalog to fill out recommendations for indy artists and indy consumer profiles. One of the common issues among the public at large about eMusic has been that the catalog doesn’t contain stuff they know. Hipsters and those “in the know” scoff at this idea, but it is a real problem. If a person goes to eMusic, and can’t find something they know in the first 1-2 minutes, there is little chance that they will subscribe. Now, however, with the Sony catalog addition, and such artists as Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, that argument will have a much harder time holding on. If someone says, “I don’t know what the heck is in this amazing huge catalog you have, but I like Bruce Springsteen”, we can really help that user find some interesting stuff and stick around a while.

Hopefully this catalog addition will do 2 things – 1) increase the number of users who subscribe to eMusic. 2) Give us a wider catalog from which to draw recommendations, meaning we can expose users to artists further down the long-tail in the indy catalog and drive additional sales/downloads of those artists.

From my consumer point of view, this is however a bitter pill to swallow.

trx/monthly/per track cost
NOW: 75/$19.99/$0.27
NEW: 75/$30.99/$0.41
NEW: 35/$15.89/$0.45
NEW: 50/$20.79/$0.42 (or 50/$19.99/$0.40 which is a little better)

So, I’ll see a monthly $11 increase if I keep up my same level of music consumption. In a short sighted view point, this is a bad thing (gah paying for music!). However, if one takes a longer point of view as a consumer, this isn’t really a bad thing. Back in the good ol days, I’d happily drop between $20-100 per month on physical product (cds, tapes, vinyl). Dropping down to $20 month for the equivalent of 5 albums is sure not a bad thing. Even going up to $31/month for that isn’t awful. And it should have a number of potentially positive effects – including driving up overall revenues for indy labels (and their artists) enabling them to keep this revenue stream alive (and keep all the currently-seflrighteously-angry-with-eMusic-hipsters) happy (even though they don’t actually pay for music). The new prices are also still $0.50-$0.90 cheaper than iTunes and a cheaper than AmazonMP3 (harder to calculate price differential since many Amazon albums are album only purchases).

Sometimes taking a step forward can be painful for folks, and it can be hard to see the bigger picture, but stepping forward is what keeps us going, so keep on keeping on eMusic!

p.s. – it has been very interesting to follow the twitter noise on this announcement this morning. a large number of “oh my god a price increase i have to cancel” freak-outs followed by folks starting to get excited about getting more really cool music in a great environment, curated by a knowledgable staff and kick-ass recommendation system.

[update: what is really also fascinating/mildly irritating to me is that the folks complaining about the price increase don’t seem to understand that eMusic is operating in an ecosystem, not a vacuum. Indy labels have been complaining for a long time about low payouts since customers don’t pay much. Remember this? Or this? all that sturm/drang about a couple labels pulling out of eMusic due to payout issues. one can’t have everything. if you want to support indy labels, and really support them, you have to support their artists – by buying downloads, buying merch, going to shows. there is not an alternative.]


One thought on “eMusic adds Sony (back) catalog

  1. Also, how come no one is talking about this?
    “To celebrate the addition of all this great music we’re giving you a 15-track booster pack (good for 30 days), free! The booster pack will automatically be added to your account in early August.”

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