#2 Music Download Service Has No DRM

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about eMusic. I was a customer for a few years when it was a monthly-subscription fee for all-you-can-download MP3s from independent and minor labels. I quit in 2003 when eMusic changed hands and went to a limited download model. But this year I decided to resubscribe after noticing that the lineup of bands and labels–from John Zorn’s Tzadik label to classic albums from Black Flag–had greatly expanded.

Now, USA Today reports that eMusic has become the #2 downloading service on the ‘net, largely built upon two factors. First, the company sells MP3s that are utterly free of DRM, so they can be played on any MP3 player, and freely burned to CDs. Second, eMusic has actively recruited independent artists and labels, making it a terrific site for music lovers with a taste for the interesting, challenging and unusual.

Of course, being #2 behind iTunes means only having 11% of the market. But I think that’s pretty substantial for a site that doesn’t have most of what’s on the Billboard Hot 100.

Beyond having a constantly expanding selection of good tunes, I resubscribed to eMusic because it’s a good deal, and I don’t mind giving my money to smaller labels willing to trust their customers and treat them with respect. Rather than 99 cents to rent a song from iTunes, I‘m currently paying 23 cents per song that I can keep and burn, and that no change to terms of service can take back from me.

My one small complaint about eMusic is that their selection of underground metal is actually worse than it was three years ago. At least two big labels (Relapse and Metal Blade) are no longer on eMusic, although recently things have improved somewhat with the addition of the German Steamhammer label.

That said, eMusic is hard to beat when it comes to indie rock and jazz. I especially like being able to download just a track or two to check out an artist or album without having to go in for a full album.

It’s not revolutionary, but eMusic’s relative success gives me some hope that business model based upon trust and respect can actually prosper.




One response to “#2 Music Download Service Has No DRM”

  1. sailorz Avatar

    I’ve just sent an email to The Orchard (see Dimensional Associates) asking once again for a rep to contact me. Been a while since I tried as I, like many thousands of other artists, never have received a response.

    I also Googled places to buy my CD or mp3’s, still finding them all over the place. Never received a dime to this day, like many thousands of other artists. And several songs on this CD were recorded at the time that didn’t transfer correctly for an mp3 file, which is embarrasing; others are okay.
    So I’d be happy to get a part of 23 cents! If you ever purchase a tune with The Orchard Label noted, see if you can get artist contact into and ask them if they are getting paid. If not, tell them where you purchased, and then contact The Orchard/Dimensional Associates and rip. Oh, and unless you’re an idle rich artist who can afford an intellectual property lawyer, you can not sell it on your own, anywhere! It’s much cheaper to get an i.p. lawyer before you sign a contract with Orchard.
    I’ve donated most of the hard copy CD’s I had in storage to charities raising funds for music programs for kids. Thought you might want to know. Sailorz

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