Wednesday, November 10, 2004

eMusic re-launch

For the second time in a couple of months I have been prompted to complete a post that I had saved as a draft as a result of an email. The last time it was an email from Always On. I don't really have an update on that other than I keep forgetting to visit that site in my rapidly diminishing free time.

This time it is eMusic. eMusic relaunched about a month ago. At that time I wanted to give my two cents on what I thought of the changes. [Full disclosure - I oversaw eMusic for around a year and a half, and must say that I wasn't personally responsible for any significant changes to the service offering during that time other than to insist on consolidating it on the same platform as The team at eMusic has done an amazing job with the least amount of resources for a real long time. This is meant as a post from a long time subscriber and fan. That said....]

When eMusic relaunched I spent a lot of time on the site, as I have always done since they have implemented the 40 downloads a month model. I don't know why it bugs me about subscription services, but I feel like I got cheated if my counter resets to 40 and I didn't get all 40 downloaded in a month. There are a lot of good underlying IP reasons for this as well as economic, which I understand given digital music history, but as a consumer it is the same reason I cancelled my pressplay/Napster account.

I overlook this annoyance for two main reasons. 1. eMusic gives me open MP3 files. Very cool. No problems moving files around, no device compatibility problems, etc. 2. It has an amazing catalog of music for music fiends. Almost every indie label of note has a deal with eMusic. Vitcory, Epitaph, Concord, etc. It isn't the service for everyone, but if you like your catalog specialized but deep, there is nothing like it.

So the new owners of eMusic made a major overhaul to the service and moved it yet another platform. Moving from one platform to another isn't a trivial task and it is key to building the future of where you want the product to go. I applaud them on that. In the process they have added a bunch of community features that I haven't really figured out yet. They also added editors which is a great concept for people exploring deep catalog. They added the editors at the same time that they got rid of the recommendation engine. Bad. This was my primary means of finding new interesting eMusic content.

I hadn't been to the site for a couple of weeks, but knew that before my renewal day that I would have to go download something, anything to get to my 40 tracks before they ding my credit card again. Then I got the email telling me about all the cool features. I was pumped. I went immediately to the site and knowing that the recommendation engine was gone that I would see a new article from my editor of choice. Not.

For future reference. Please update ALL the features before spamming everyone. It was kind of disappointing and I still don't know what new tracks to download of the 40 I get.

The bigger question I have for eMusic involves the market opportunity. I met with an acquaintance in New York and we talked a bit about eMusic. I told him that my theory with eMusic was that its THE best service out there for certain customers but that barring the addition of significantly more content, it may have reached the majority of that audience given the growth rates I saw. I hope I am wrong. I will give it a couple of more months to see if I keep the credit card treadmill running, or call it a day.

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