I don’t normally do breaking news, because frankly I’m just too busy to keep track of what’s happening every day in the music business. However I’ll make an exception just this once given its potential importance: Billboard (in a story picked up by the Washington Post) is reporting that three out of eMusic’s top
six 60 labels are considering pulling out of the service either wholly or partially (i.e., not offering newer releases). According to eMusic’s label page, the top six labels by downloads are Merge, Naxos, Matador, KOCH, Anti, and Fat Possum. Given its focus on low-cost offerings I think we can conclude that Naxos will not be among the defectors. Also, it’s possible that Fat Possum will be one of the defectors, since otherwise the story would have read (OK, it’s clear now why I don’t do breaking news: because I can’t even read the breaking news articles, and make stupid mistakes like mistaking 6 for 60.)
three out of the top N where N was some number other than six. Hypebot previously named KOCH as being unhappy, so it may be a second defector. I don’t have time now to speculate which of Merge, Matador, or Anti might be the third.
I’ve previously made my own views clear on the labels’ complaints about eMusic pricing, so I won’t repeat my comments here. I don’t want to denigrate the label’s concerns (now he says!), but I do think they’re trying to swim against the tide somewhat. Just a big-box retailers took music CDs and made them a loss leader, I think the long-term trend is for lower prices for digital music. As Amazon apparently prepares to enter the digital music market, we’ll see if I’m right.