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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

eMusic and me.

I'm going to start my series on legal download services by talking about the one I've used the most. eMusic is, according to their own statistics, the second largest download service behind iTunes. Like the other services I'm profiling, they offer DRM free MP3s from independent labels. Subscriptions start at $9.99 a month with the per track price coming in around 26-33 cents, depending on your subscription plan.

One thing I should menation about eMusic is your subscription plan gives you 30-75 downloads a month. What you don't use, doesn't roll over, which is kind of a drag. The interesting thing about their plan is, each track is one credit. this can make eMusic a great value if you're into jazz or classical where the tracks tend to be long but a bad deal if you're downloading punk or hip-hop with lots of short tracks.

You can either load tracks one at a time off the page or use the download manager and download an entire album at a time. On your profile page is a list of all the music you've downloaded and, providing the album is still available, you can download your music as many times as you want.

I find eMusic's catalog to be just about perfect for the kind of music I prefer. Nearly all the largest independent rock labels are on board, most of the best underground hip-hop labels are available and there's tons of jazz and avantgarde. Since the first of the year, they've also added Greensleeves records, which turned eMusic into a reggae powerhouse as well.

There have been some defections from the service as well. The biggest I can thing of was Ryko who left in the time I've been a member. There have been several smaller labels leaving this year, many complaining they were only receiving "peanuts" from eMusic. But it seems like for ever label leaving, at least one more quality label comes on board to replace them.

One of the things I really like about eMusic is they have attempted to set it up to give a sense of community. In addition to regular columns written by respected music writers, you can peruse the downloads of other users, read user reviews and check recommended listening lists. I've discovered a lot of great music this way and with the download cost being so low, I can afford to take a chance on something new.

The site itself is fairly accessible. Searching for music is pretty easy and you can even search by label, a feature I like a lot. However, it's a bit difficult to find another user on the site. A lot of people I know have joined, but even if I know their user name, it's difficult to find their profile page.

One more thing I like about eMusic is all the free tracks. There's a daily free track and then every so often label samplers pop up. Recently, I downloaded free samplers from Oneida and a modern funk comp with Sharon Jones and stuff like that. Granted, it's not always stuff I'm into, but there's been a lot of stuff I have really dug.

eMusic isn't for everyone. Just check their message boards to see all the people bemoaning the lack of Top 40/major label stuff. But if you'd rather buy your music at the hip independent record store, where the people running the place are pretty knowledgeable and can help you find some cool stuf to listen to, eMusic is probably a place you'll dig a lot. I've been a subscriber for several years and I really don't have much to complain about.

(And if you want a free trial subscription, message me and let me know. I get freebies for giving these things out. ;))

Now playing: Squirrel Bait - Too Close To The Fire
via FoxyTunes

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