How dare you eMusic?

I'm trying very hard to be calm.

So I'm browsing around the internet, looking up articles on Napster's 10 year anniversary, when I stumble across this story about eMusic. Now as a customer of eMusic for 1 1/2 years, my first reaction was eMusic couldn't have changed their prices, that must be for new customers. Then I stopped and thought about it. My two out of my three interactions with eMusic's customer service have not been pleasant. So I rushed to my eMusic software, only to notice a nice little notice on the homepage: "In July, we'll be rolling out a major expansion to our music catalog. Please read the announcement for details on how this change affects your account."

Lets pause for a second and think about this. You may not be aware for this, but eMusic is a subscription based service. I give them $15 every month for 50 downloads. I'm a subscriber, going on 2 years now. Maybe I'm expecting too much, but WHY THE HELL HAVE THEY NOT EMAILED ME? They change my plan and they don't even have the decency to inform me?

Ok, still trying to remain calm. So, I go to their announcement. Guess what I see? Starting July 24th, I will recieve 37 downloads instead of 50. Yup, they reduced the number of downloads and didn't have the ******* decency to tell me. Sure the announcement was full of "Oh, we got Sony on board" and "Our catalog will be expanding" but the number of downloads are decreasing and they DID NOT TELL ME. And look at this nice little blog post from the CEO. Guess what he doesn't mention? The price hike. And lets not forget that was dated May 31st, a Sunday. They knew fully well they were having this price hike, and I was on eMusic on Friday and Saturday and got no notice.

So I'm pissed. This is unforgiveable. It is not cool for you eMusic to change your customer's plans without telling them because guess what - without customers, you don't exists. Furthermore, you've just lost out. I've been considering increasing my download plan to 75 for a while, but there is no way in hell that I'm giving you any money, and if I start to feel to restricted by you 37 downloads a month, I'm leaving. You will never get more than $15 a month from me, and considering how tight my finances have been, don't count on that for too long. And guess what - I'm not the only one. Oh yea. The message boards have been so bad that they had to respond themselves - what a mistake. Maybe Cathy thought that this message would soothe us -

Hi Everyone: 
We're here, and we're reading every word. We feel as passionately about eMusic as you do and would not have made this decision if we did not feel strongly that it will be beneficial to everyone involved. 

We've given it a lot of thought, and we're confident that we can integrate Sony music in a way that does justice to eMusic -- and not just eMusic as a business, but eMusic as those of us who use it every day know and love it. 

Obviously, a lot of comments have been about the pricing. The Great Recession of 2009 is not the best time to be doing this. We own up to that. However, we - and our labels - simply cannot sustain some of the lowest cost plans that many of you currently have. The price increase is not just about Sony, it is for all of our labels, including the ones that have left over the years and those we have yet to sign. 

We appreciate you, our most loyal customers, and we understand that people have naturally reacted strongly to yesterday's news. All that we can ask is that you show some patience, that you see how we go about handling this catalogue. We have a lot to offer real music fans. We have since 1998, we do today, and we will once Sony launches. That will not change. 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We will continue to check back. 

Cathy Halgas Nevins 

- but she was mistaken. Even more mistaken was dear Yancey.

A few things to note: 

The new pricing benefits everyone. Existing indie labels, future labels (indie and major), etc. It's not just for Sony. 

Regarding the grandfathering plans, it definitely sucks to see your downloads cut. But this isn't out of a lack of loyalty: this is because those plans, which we have grandfathered for a few years, would now be priced at a loss. We changed what some of you spend per-track so that it was equal to what everyone else spends. Whether Sony happened or not, this was an eventuality. An eventuality that stinks, yes, but one all the same. 

The majority of folks saw very few to no changes in their plan. The plans that did see changes were the ones whose pricing was far below what we pay out. We just couldn't continue subsidizing those accounts. It's more math than anything else. 

The broader question of how Sony incorporates into eMusic is one that I have been thinking about quite a bit. And I'll be honest: there are some definite challenges and we'll be figuring them out as we go along. But as I said in the 17 Dots post, our taste and our values -- and here I'm talking about me, Joe, Alex, Maris, Jayson, our writers and the tone of the site that you help define -- is the same. All of you regulars in particular I hope will recognize how deeply we hold our beliefs, and how much we love indie music. The idea that any of us would ever abandon that... just not going to happen. 

The last 36 hours have sucked. I went quiet as I waited for tempers to cool a bit. I've been getting a lot of emails from folks saying that yesterday was a range of emotions, and that while they still aren't sure how they feel about this move, they're going to see how things shake out. And that's a completely rational way to approach this, and I can't argue with it at all. I'm crossing my fingers that that's what can happen this week. 

I'm going to be posting a new arrivals on 17 Dots soon. God knows what will happen in the comments, but there are great new records to talk about and I don't want us to overlook them over our inside-baseball stuff. So if you read this and are feeling like talking about music, I'd appreciate a comment or two. If you don't feel like it, totally cool. 


PS: I am going on vacation on Thursday and will be gone about two weeks. Completely unrelated to all of this. 

PPS: It seems a meme has developed around this "slight" word. The NY Times wrote that, not us. 

PPPS: With album pricing and all of that: this will not just be Sony titles. All labels will be able to opt in (and we will introduce it to the UK, EU and Canada later on). I don't have many more details yet, but when we do we will share them. This will be a good thing for everyone.

Admitedly, I wasn't amused by either of those posts. Still, you live and you learn. Or you go out of business.
Labels: , 0 comments | Links to this post | edit post