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Consumer Woes: EMusic and their new pricing system and mainstream music

I’ve been a fan and paying subscriber of since 2006. In the internets age, that is basically a lifetime. If you aren’t familiar with them, they used to be a very economical online music store that catered to independent labels and I downloaded a ton of what would be labeled as ‘indie’ rock (short for ‘indian rock’) as well as an equal amount of hard to find early reggae.

A few things have happened recently that have caused me to frowny face.
(1) Due to some dealings they have lost a few labels that I downloaded a lot from such as Merge and Domino.

(2) Due to some other dealings, they gained music from a number of large labels

(3) Due to that last point, their pricing structure changed from a ‘credit’ system to actual dollars.

Back in the day (a few weeks ago) the system worked like this: I paid them $11 or something every month and I was given credits to buy music. Each track was worth a credit and I was given something like 30 credits. Simple system.

Now my plan is worth an actual dollar amount and each track has a monetary value. I still pay them something monthly, but now instead of a ‘remaining credits’ message at the top, I have a remaining balance. Hilariously, right now my balance is 0.07.
Awesome! Seven cents!
The AP has a better summary of how it works:

In the new plan, members will pay 49 cents for most of the track, but adds 69-cent and 79-cent prices for more popular tunes and charges 89 cents for newer tracks that usually sell on Apple Inc.'s iTunes store for $1.29.
Members still get song prices that are about 20 percent to 50 percent cheaper than iTunes, it said. Unused amounts are not carried over each month, unless a user has less than 49 cents left to spend

Great. So, my seven cents does carry over. That is good. But, if I don’t go in and buy music for one month, then I lose whatever it is that my subscription cost is.

I mean, I think I understand why they do this from a business point of view, but I feel like the implementation is off. Did they chat with any consumer insight researchers? Didn’t anyone tell them that people have no issue losing credits, but might have issues losing actual dollars no matter how well priced they are?
Many months I wouldn’t download anything and my credits would fall to the wayside. But, since I’m the CEO of a large internet conglomerate ( I don’t sweat losing small amounts like that. I mean, I throw that away daily just to pay for N8’s mustache maintenance team.
These are “credits”. Ooops! I lost some credits! No big deal.

Now I log in and see a dollar amount and there is a psychological ‘thing’ that is happening in my brain. Ah, crap! Seven cents left! WTF! I can’t buy anything with that! Waaaaaaaaaaaah.
It’s stupid. If I saw seven cents on the street (in the very under appreciated seven cent coin piece (the soony?)) I’d walk right on by, but holy crap some internet site is not going take my seven cents! AIYEEEEEEE!

In Conclusion
I am not sure what I’m going to do. Here are my pros and cons:

- Technically they are still cheaper than the competition. I don’t download from iTunes (I don’t like that format they use) and EMusic is much cheaper. I do download a lot from Amazon which is a tad more than EMusic
- I still find great stuff when I am looking for reggae - like the great Studio One recordings. Unlike a lot of other music shoppes, their reggae section isn’t all Marley/Tosh and songs about Jah.

- I don’t like the dollar amounts now. Too much math.
- They lost the labels that I have downloaded the most music from
- They are pouring in major label stuff - a lot of it old.

Dude! I’m at a crossroads!

Snot Nosed
I had just checked the EMusic twitter feed and they were all excited about the new additions to their catalog. Guns and/or Roses and the Beastie Boys.
Oh, snark.

But iTunes has The Beatles. (said ala Nigel Tufnel's equally clueless "But these go to eleven")
»thewillhelm ||  11/23/2010 ||  12:00:02 PM
I think this last person who was a Beatles fan who didn't have the Beatles on their iPod was my mom. I won't mention that I fixed this by going to bittorrent, though.
»:r ||  11/23/2010 ||  3:46:46 PM

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