It's well advised that you follow your own bag in the year of the chewable Ambien tab

For almost three years I paid $15 a month for a subscription to the music download site, emusic.com, but last month I put my account on hold with the intention of quitting them for good. They went from being one of my favorite web services to my online nemesis through a path that is not unfamiliar to people who are early adopters of cool web services only to watch them crumble under a series of compromises (I'm looking at you lala.com.) but this one angers me the most.

The interwebs tell me that emusic was founded in 1998, but didn't really take off until the early 2000s. It was different from other music sites because a set amount of money got you credits for mp3 downloads each month. When I first signed up, my $15 got me 50 songs from a large library that consisted mostly of indie labels and old jazz and blues. It wasn't for everybody, but if emusic's selection matched up with your musical tastes it was an amazing bargain.

Things were going great until the summer of 2009. That's when emusic signed a deal with one of the "big four" labels (Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, EMI and Warner Music Group). Emusic would carry music from Sony artists that was two years old or older. So you couldn't get the new Kings of Leon, but you could download the Bruce Springsteen back catalog. In return, customers found out their $15 suddenly didn't buy as many credits. Sony wanted more money for their songs so now I was getting 37 songs a month for my money. It was annoying, but I was willing to take the hit for a larger selection of music. Besides, Michael Jackson had just died and now I could download all of his songs that I thought I already owned with minimal effort.

For me, November of 2010 was the beginning of the end. Emusic signed a deal with Universal to offer their entire catalog on the site, but along with the new music came some major changes. Suddenly my $15 didn't buy credits, it got me $15 worth of music with different songs being offered at different prices. Some songs were $.69 and others were $.99 album prices were all over the place but seemed to run $5 to $8. It was still cheaper than iTunes, but other things were lost along the way, too.

Several indie labels left the site shortly after the Universal deal was announced. Also emusic's customer service seemed defensive when customers voiced their concerns. They didn't seem to understand that I was more interested in the new Arcade Fire album than having access to hundreds of thousands of Justin Bieber and Black Eyed Peas tracks. After years of cultivating an indie audience, emusic seemed happy to let them fall by the wayside.

And I'm happy to oblige. Bieber fans don't pay for music anyway, and I hope emusic will discover that one day and change their tune. They're not the first web site to alienate their original customers in an effort to expand their audience, but few have done it quite as callously as emusic. I've decided to take my money and spend it on a Netflix subscription instead. So far, it's been worth it.


mcnees said...

I'm right there with you! Two days ago I cancelled my account, temporarily re-enabled it when I clicked the wrong button on the next-to-last page, cancelled it a second time, and then filled out the "why are you leaving us?" questionnaire with an enthusiasm that bordered on manic glee.

That, coupled with Arcade Fire winning a grammy, should teach them a lesson.

Josh said...

If it makes you guys feel better, I totally signed up for a trial membership once, got 100 free songs—and then never got a full membership that cost me money. THANKS FOR ALL THE MP3S, EMUSUCKERS.

Tony said...

I am also disappointed with eMusic. It bothers me now that I will think about buying an album and then realize that I could get it cheaper on Amazon.

(Fuck you, Josh)

mcnees said...

It bothers me to think about buying an album and then realizing that Tony may have bought it, as well.

mcnees said...

Aw crap. As soon as I cancel my emusic account I find this: