In Defense of Emusic

Emusic announced to its subscribers that it will be changing its subscription plans this month.

    Old vs. New Rates
  • Basic Plan: $10 – 40 Downloads, 30 Downloads
  • Plus Plan: $15 – 65 Downloads, 50 Downloads
  • Premium Plan: $20 – 90 Downloads, 75 Downloads

Current subscribers will still get the same amount of downloads they get now. If you’re on the Premium Plan you will still get 90 downloads after the plans change. Current subscribers are locked in. They can upgrade to a better plan now to lock in more downloads before the switch occurs on the 21st, according to the email I received. I assume that if you downgrade after the 21st you will get a plan with less downloads than before.

The reactions have obviously been negative. Some have gone as far to say that Emusic is boning subscribers.

I think the move is completely justified.

Way back when Emusic started in the late 90s they offered unlimited downloads for $10 a month. As market conditions changed (the rise of MP3 players and digital distribution, the fall of CD sales) and Emusic grew, they cut back to 40 downloads a month for $10. Today, they are second only to iTunes in digital distribution. They continue to grow, despite the lack of major label music and DRM.

Like any business should do, Emusic is modifying their plans to further sustain and grow. Over the past few years they’ve added tons more labels, but there are a few that still aren’t on the service, like Sub-Pop. This move could be meant to try to encourage larger indie labels to sign on. Since they’re bigger they’ll want a bigger slice of pie.

And even if that’s not really the reason and it’s just Emusic trying to maximize their profits, why is this such a bad thing?

Let’s take a look at what some people are citing as customers being boned:<br/> Old Basic Plan: 40 downloads for $10 – $0.25 per download. Roughly 3-5 albums. New Basic Plan: 30 downloads for $10 – $0.33 per download. Roughly 2-4 albums.

Only 8¢ more per track.

Compared to how far $10 gets you on iTunes ($10 = 10 tracks, 1 album) Emusic will still represent one of the greatest values in digitally distributed music after this downgrade.

Emusic sells DRM-Less MP3s, they’re one of the least expensive legal options for music, and they’re grandfathering in customers to the rates from before. They’re doing everything right.

If they want to maximize their profits, let them. They’ve earned it.