yesterday's technology tomorrow
Friday, October 10, 2003The Day eMusic Died
Well folks the gravy train is over. eMusic announced today that they are changing from an all you can eat business model to a 10$ gets you 40 tracks model.
Now I have a conflict of interest in writing about this as I own a substantial part of one of eMusic's main service suppliers so I'd like to see eMusic continue.
My understanding is that a large number let's say over 75% of people download less than 40 tracks a month hence making the $10 for 40 tracks a financial deal no worse than the current one they have for these users.
What has happened is that ostensibly eMusic has changed its service from offering free music in the minds of their subscribers to charging $10 a month (not 25c per track as it is not a la carte).
Changing from 0$ to 10$ has huge emotional baggage attached to it and I expect (and it is happening) a huge backlash with many many more than 25% of their subscribers (the ones who download more than 40 tracks) leaving in droves. And I expect a massive increase in downloads as the leaving subscribers grab what they can (how long will eMusic's bandwidth last??).
Aside from the $0 to $10 change, there is the perceived/real issue that most of the artists on emusic you have never heard of before. Now this doesn't make them crap...quite the opposite with there being many many great "finds" on the service which the previous all you can eat model made exceptionally compelling to explore and try. So you had a good:bad hit ratio of 1:8 lets say.
Under the new model this will not change and then perceived "risk" you have in downloading a track is that it is one of the 7 dud tracks rather than the 1 good one. Mathematically this pushes the cost of a good track to 8*0.40$ = $3.20 well above any existing model.
Before you all say hold on ben you can sample the songs....this is true But there are only 30sec clips on the service and for an unkown song/artist this does little to mitigate the risk for the majority of users out there...not to mention the fact that the clips don't easily link in with the service as well as itunes.
I think that eMusic in its new for can survive but it needs to do some new things.
What does eMusic need to do (in no real order)??
1) Improve the sampling service. Extend it to 75% of the song for samples.
2) Add user generated reviews of individual tracks.
3) Offer cheaper downloads for those super short tracks out there.
4) Get rid of the download manager and revert to easy click and download links.
5) Finally...hang on...this is going to be a bumpy ride.
Random Pile of Ben
ben at neuronwave dot com