Wednesday, November 17, 2010

eMusic: Getting What They Wanted, Losing What They Had

eMusic, a subscription download service to which I subscribe, used to be known as a paradise for independent music.

Then last year they started hooking up with major companies. The price went up -- strictly coincidence, they assured the world -- but it was still a good deal.

Now they're adding another major, Universal, supposedly next week. And they're screwing with the price structure. No more credits. Now it's all dollars and cents.

But, the service just announced they're losing lots of independent labels: Matador, Merge and others. "This is as heartbreaking to us as it is to you," says a note on the eMusic Web forum. "Please know we have done everything we could to keep them from leaving."

Hopefully Norton, Bloodshot, Voodoo Rhythm and other favorites won't join the exodus.

I'll stick around to see whether eMusic remains a good deal. But, as Benjamin J. Grimm used to say, "What a revoltin' development."

UPDATE: Pitchfork has a story about this with label responses. Both Merge and Beggar's Group blame the new deals with the majors. Says Merge, "Unfortunately, eMusic’s unilateral changes in effort to bring on the major labels has created a situation where it would be harmful to the interests of Merge and our artists to continue our partnership at this time."

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