eMusic and Sony: the beginning and end of a beautiful thing

There’s a lot to like about the deal that eMusic cut with Sony today. Sony’s back catalogue (200,000 tracks, from albums two years old and older) will be available on eMusic’s monthly subscription plan.

Sort of.

As a consequence of the deal, eMusic’s per track price is going up across its whole catalogue. My subscription, purchased a while ago, was 90 tracks for $19.99. It had gone up to $24.99 for 90 tracks but I was grandfathered in at the old level. The new deal is $19.99 for 50 tracks. For those playing along, that’s an 80% price increase over my original deal. And I can’t buy a 90-track subscription any more. The highest subscription is 75 tracks for $30.99 a month.

Why else, other than the sudden 80% decrease in value of my subscription, do I have a problem with this? Well, for one thing, not everyone will want to download Sony tracks. So the price for every other track in the catalogue just jumped. Thanks a lot, Sony. I’d argue you just single-handedly made it harder for every indie in the eMusic catalogue to make money.

Which, you might suspect, might be the point. eMusic is practically the only place where indies have a voice where they don’t have to compete with the majors for oxygen. Now Sony will try to choke off the oxygen from the indies in their own pool. Not cool.

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