Well, I significantly underestimated how far eMusic was willing to go in terms of changing its pricing to attract major label content. My personal guess was that Sony demanded a minimum price of at least $0.30 per track, but based on the new US pricing it appears that the new floor is actually $0.40 per track.
More specifically, the plan changes are as follows:
- The eMusic Basic plan is still $11.99 per month, but has been reduced to 24 downloads ($0.50 per song) from the previous 30 downloads ($0.40 per song), or a 25% per-track price increase.
- The eMusic Plus plan is now 35 downloads for $15.89 per month ($0.45 per song) vs. $14.99 per month for 50 downloads ($0.30 per song) under the previous plan, or a 50% per-track price increase.
- The eMusic Premium plan is now 50 downloads for $20.79 per month ($0.42 per song) vs. $19.99 per month for 75 downloads ($0.27 per song) under the previous plan, or a 56% per-track price increase.
- The eMusic Connoisseur plan is now 75 downloads for $30.99 per month ($0.41 per song) or 100 downloads for $40.99 per month (also $0.41 per song) vs. 100 downloads for $24.99 per month ($0.25 per song) under the previous plan, or a 65% per-track price increase. Also, the new Connoisseur plans are available only as upgrades from another plan, and require a minimum 3-month commitment; previously the Connoisseur 100 plan was offered as an option at sign-up time, with no minimum commitment required.
- People with annual and 2-year plans will be moved to higher-priced plans when their old plans refresh. In my case the default choice offered is to move from my (grandfathered) Basic 2-year plan offering 40 downloads a month for $89.91 per year ($0.19 per song) to a standard Premium Annual plan offering 35 downloads a month for $171.99 per year ($0.41 per song), or a 119% per-track price increase.
- When downloading at least some complete albums with more than 12 tracks, only the first 12 downloads will be counted against the subscriber’s monthly quota.
- Booster pack downloads now range from $0.60 per track (when bought in packs of 5 or 10) to $0.50 per track for a pack of 50. I don’t have a complete record of the old pricing, but as far as I’m aware this is not a major change from previously.
- eMusic is offering a free one-time 15-track booster pack to subscribers who stay with eMusic past July.
I’ll have more to say about the overall changes at eMusic in future posts, but for now I wanted to note a few additional points regarding the new pricing:
- Presuming it came from eMusic directly and was not a misquote, the comment in the New York Times article that
eMusic says it will slightly raise prices and reduce the number of downloads for some of its monthly planswas extremely disingenuous, to say the least. As far as I can tell all US plans have had the number of downloads reduced, and per-track price increases of 50% (for eMusic Plus), 56% (for eMusic Premium), and 65% (for eMusic Connoisseur) are hardly
- As noted above, it appears that $0.40 per track is the new floor for eMusic US prices. I cannot find any published option offering a per-track price less than $0.4095 (available through the eMusic Plus Annual plan). There does not appear to be an annual option for the Premium or Connoisseur plans, and 2-year plans appeared to have been eliminated altogether.
- Subscribers get just less than a 10% discount for choosing an annual plan vs. 12 months of a monthly plan. (The eMusic Basic Annual plan is $129.99 or $10.83 per month vs. $11.99 for the corresponding monthly plan, while the eMusic Plus Annual plan is $171.99 or $14.33 per month vs. $15.89 for the corresponding monthly plan.)
- By eliminating the Connoisseur plan as an option at sign-up and offering only three options (Basic, Plus, and Premium), eMusic has reverted to a more straightforward
- eMusic has mitigated the price increases slightly by offering subscribers the ability to download
selectedalbums with more than 12 tracks and be charged only 12 downloads. However it remains to be seen how many albums will actually be priced in this manner. (I suspect that this may depend on individual labels and whether they choose to do this for all or some of their releases through eMusic.)
All in all this is the biggest change in eMusic pricing for quite some time, and judging by the reaction of the subscribers who frequent the eMusic message board, probably the most controversial change since eMusic was originally acquired by Dimensional Associates and discontinued its
all you can eat unlimited download model.