Emusic.com Hits a Sour Note


I wrote an earlier article about how buymusic.com is such a botch. Turns out people have been reporting that their service is even worse than I thought. With so many music download services getting it wrong, I thought I would write about one that does it right. Or, at least, that was the theory.

Just about everything buymusic.com does wrong, emusic.com gets right. The web site is browser and system independent. They even support Linux. They don't simply say, "Linux is OK." They actually provide a version of their download manager application that runs under Linux.

The music is provided in MP3 format, not some proprietary format. You don't have to fight any DRM (digital rights management) functions keeping you from using the songs the way you want. You aren't limited to devices that, for instance, only understand Microsoft file formats.

Also nice, it's a monthly flat-rate subscription fee for service. They do make you sign a long-term agreement, but the fees are reasonable, particularly if you are willing to sign up for 12 months.

The biggest drawback--and I knew this going in--was the small catalog. If you are looking for a service that provides popular or recent music, this is not the one for you. They do, however, have a backcatalog with some really good offerings, particularly in jazz and blues. I figured it would be worthwhile if I could find two albums a month I wanted to keep. That seemed likely.

The dealbreaker for me wasn't the limited catalog, but rather the lack of service. During my trial subscription I had the opportunity to send three messages to their support department. They ignored all of them.

Bad service is a problem. The long-term agreement you have to sign makes this unacceptable. If I had encountered problems, they would have ignored me and I would have ended up paying off the balance of a useless contract.

On that basis, I canceled my trial subscription. Shortly after, another incident happened that made me glad I had not sent them any money. Turns out emusic.com is owned by an evil company that I would not like to support.

What happened is that Larry Lessig contacted mp3.com about the Creative Commons license. Vivendi Universal, the owner of both mp3.com and emusic.com, responded by sending him a cease and desist letter.

I'm disappointed that emusic.com has such bad service and evil ownership. They have so much else going for them.


Comments have been closed for this entry.

re: Emusic.com Hits a Sour Note

Damn! I knew there had to be a catch.

re: Emusic.com Hits a Sour Note

I've had a fair amount of success with listen.com/rhapsody.

It's a little bit different in that your $14.00 subscription will only let you stream music (alhtough it caches regularly listened-to stuff locally in a proprietary format).

i don't think they have a non-windows player, but I could be wrong. Their catalog is HUGE, but not exhaustive... I tend to find enough stuff there to make it worth my while (and they make a point of showing off how many and which new albums they put online per day). There is a fairly good "You might like this..." feature for contemporary artists.

If you want to burn you can either burn straight from the audio output (albeit illegally) or you can pay something like .99 cents per song up to $10.00 per cd. However, only certain songs are "eligible" for burning (rights not cleared, etc), and that selection is small.

Overall, it keeps me happy when working with my head down, so I give it a B-.

re: Emusic.com Hits a Sour Note

Yup, like mp3.com, emusic.com started out very promising, then got lost somewhere along the way.

When I signed their long-term contract, I could download MP3s right off their web pages--no special software was required. Then, halfway through my year, they changed their service to force their customers to use their software. Not only did their software require a GUI (even on Linux), the Windows version was horribly buggy to the point that it was unusable. When I contacted them about the problem, their response was essentially "too bad if you don't like it and, no, we won't cancel your subscription just because we made a radical change to our service".

I actually think they have a great selection, but I doubt that I'll renew my subscription after I've "served my time" with emusic.com. *sigh*

re: Emusic.com Hits a Sour Note

I have been a very happy emusic member for over a year and have downloaded 170 mp3 cd (each comprising between 10 and 12 albums) I am a stroke survivor so ease of use was very important since with a hole in my head the following of involved directions is very difficult. Emusic has been very good to this member, albeit a limited catalog,