Sunday, June 20, 2004

E-music

This isn't an ad. I don't even get a free download out of this. I just think some of you might be interested in a legal music download service I've been using the past couple of months, E-Music

The basics: You sign up and get 50 free song downloads for the first two weeks. After that you gotta pay. But the prices are fairly reasonable. I'm on the cheap -- $10 a month for 40 downloads -- plan. Under most the plans the downloads come out to about 25 cents apiece.

Although the selection of participating artists and labels isn't vast, there's quite a lot of great stuff available. There's tons of stuff by The Fall and The Cramps. I've downloaded live discs -- not available anywhere else -- by The Gourds and Robbie Fulks, Long Tall Weekend (an e-music only album by They Might Be Giants), a couple of Tav Falco efforts, some funky old blues compilations including Please Warm My Wiener, Jim Dickinson's Field Recordings, and It Came From Memphis, Vol. 2 (which has one track featuring pro wrestling great Jerry "The King" Lawler singing "Memphis, Tennessee.", plus stray songs from Willie Nelson, Wayne Kramer, Flaco Jimenez, Queen Ida, Steeleye Span, Billy Joe Shaver and others.

I've used up my 40 downloads this month, but I've got my eyes on a bunh of others. I've found multi-disc sets by Uncle Dave Macon and The Delmore Brothers, plus albums by Jay Farrar, Michael Hurley, Loretta Lynn and 16 Horsepower. (There's enough there for a few months.)

To be sure, I do have some complaints about E-music. On some live albums, between-song stage patter counts as a song. Thus a 23-second rant by Hasil Adkins ends up costing the same as a 13-minute cut by John Fahey. I wish they could work out a system with breaks for downloading an entire album.

And again, while there's plenty of great stuff, the selection isn't great if you're looking for something specific. I hope E-music makes a bigger effort to attract more labels and more musicians to its fold.

But I think it's worth the $10 a month. And it definitely beats getting sued by the RIAA. Check it out.

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