The eMusic business model
We've got a post up now about how Sub Pop hasn't joined other indie labels in bolting from eMusic in the wake of the latter going lamestream. To which commenter Aaron Sedlak says, "My question is this to the indie labels that left - itunes and amazons online malls are more 'indie' than emusic?"
To put it another way, the tired old indie vs. major paradigm isn't very useful in this case. A more relevant metric is douchey vs. non-douchey. And here's the money shot that shows how eMusic has definitely taken a big turn toward the former:
The album in question failed to download the first time. So my only option is to ... "Re-purchase album"? As in, I already paid for it once, but I have to pay for it again? eMusic used to treat its customers as adults, allowing us to re-download purchased albums multiple times. And why not? We were the good guys, paying for our music instead of stealing it like most people, so why not assume that we weren't trying to rip them off? Some things I've downloaded three or four times in the ten years I've been a member. Because shit happens, laptops break, etc.
In fairness, eMusic says they will at some point (they don't say when) make "digital lockers" available to their customers which will allow them to access downloaded music from anywhere. And they did credit my account when I complained, but insisted this was a "one-time courtesy." Apparently I shouldn't in the future expect to get what I pay for.
It's a testament to how much other online music options suck that I'm STILL sticking with eMusic. iTunes is pure fucking evil, erasing everything I've purchased whenever I make the slightest hardware change, and Amazon is a navigational disaster. At an average price of 49 cents per track, and with a solid mainstream selection, eMusic could be poised to grab a much bigger market share. And they seem to have found a way to do it without losing their original customers. Yet.