Pakman speaks

This used to be a page on my Swindleeeee! blog about eMusic; I subsequently moved it over as a page on my main personal blog when I merged the contents of Swindleeeee! into that blog. As part of a cleanup of my main blog I’m now moving it to be a regular blog post, in order to preserve it for posterity.

I found public comments from David Pakman (formerly CEO of eMusic) always interesting even when he was repeating his favorite mantras (e.g., about the futility of DRM, eMusic as number two to the iTunes Store, and so on). Since I often found myself quoting from them, I thought I’d provide links to various of Pakman’s interviews, speeches, and other public comments, both for my own use and as a public service. Now that Pakman has left eMusic I’ll continue to maintain this page as I have time, both as a sort of memorial to Pakman’s time at eMusic, and also because I suspect he’ll have more interesting things to say in future.

  • How eMusic hopes to keep Its groove (Fortune, July 16, 2008). An article about eMusic’s web site enhancements, with a quote from Pakman on the perennially popular subject of whether eMusic will ever offer major label content: If we never get any major label content, this is still a very successful company (of course, he would say that).
  • @ Needham Digital Media Con: Interview: David Pakman, CEO, eMusic: Adults Still Buy Music (paidContent.org, May 8, 2008).
  • eMusic CEO on DRM and iTunes (Washington Post, February 28, 2008). Pakman brags on the Random House decision to drop DRM after a successful experience with distribution through eMusic. He also notes that the average age of the eMusic subscriber is 39 years old, and that 60 per cent of all eMusic downloads are as part of complete albums.
  • Music With No Strings Attached (Forbes, April 21, 2007). A very interesting and informative interview in the wake of the Amazon rumors (to which Pakman responds there are no talks right now with any strategic buyer). Pakman also addresses eMusic’s market niche (Our differentiation will not be in the format. It’ll be who we serve as customers), notes that eMusic would be interested in only a portion of EMI’s catalog, downplays the threat of labels leaving eMusic (We’ve got 13,000 labels on the service. Fewer than five have ever left.), explains eMusic’s subscription model and the motivation behind the Connoisseur plan (For us, subscription business optimization is about making sure customers are never always maxing out their plans.), and even speculates about possible eMusic interest in long-tail television. A must-read interview.
  • Startups eye Apple-EMI pact (Red Herring, April 2, 2007). Pakman praises EMI’s willingness to license music in DRM-free formats, and looks forward to eMusic doing a deal with EMI.
  • Gigs & Bytes: eMusic’s Pak Attack (Pollstar, March 30, 2007). Pakman riffs on the standard topics: the importance of interoperability, the reluctance of major labels to experiment with their back catalogs, and eMusic as a music discovery service. Most notably, he claims the eMusic has plenty of room to grow the business (We really do believe there are 3 million to 5 million potential eMusic subscribers just today) and has no near-term plans to sell out to someone else. He also claims that the average eMusic customer spends $14 per month, which combined with a subscriber base of well north of 250,000 gives a revenue estimate for eMusic of almost $50 million per year.
  • Apple gets behind the album offer with new format (Reuters, March 29, 2007). Pakman reacts to Apple’s announcement of the new Complete My Album feature of the iTunes Store: The premise that the album is dead is only true among the youth segment, which is really the iTunes customer. The article also notes that over 60 percent of all [eMusic’s] downloads were full-length albums, although it doesn’t clarify what this actually means. (My best guess is that 60 percent of the tracks downloaded from eMusic were downloaded as part of a complete album download, rather than as individual tracks.)
  • eMusic CEO: DRM Will Be Dead by 2008 (The Independent, February 23, 2007). Pakman continues on his anti-DRM crusade, claims Steve Jobs was a bit disingenuous in his comments on DRM, and pleads that If we’re still talking about DRM in five years, please take me out and shoot me.
  • EXCLUSIVE: eMusic CEO Speaks Out On DRM And Consumer Dissatisfaction (hypebot, June 12, 2006).
  • Music Ally Debate, London: Buzz Of The Indies (paidcontent.org, July 19, 2006). Summary of Pakman’s comments at the Music Ally event. Interesting tidbits:
    • “Pakman said [eMusic] pays an average $5.62 per customer, per month, back to [independent] labels…”
    • “Pakman quoted 4.5 million downloads per month and a catalog of 1.5 million tracks…”
  • Making money selling music without DRM: the rise of eMusic (Ars Technica, May 22, 2006). Many Pakman comments sprinkled throughout an in-depth article on eMusic.
  • Q&A: eMusic’s David Pakman (MP3.com, January 27, 2006). Interview by Jim Welte.
  • Why DRM Everything? A Sensible Approach to Satisfying Customers and Selling More Music in the Digital Age (Groklaw, December 31, 2005). Article by Pakman.
  • eMusic’s Pakman: Does he think the iPod is holding back overall music sales? (BusinessWeek, December 21, 2005). Interview by Peter Burrows.
  • 5 Hypebot Questions with eMusic’s David Pakman on the Sony Rootkit Controversy (hypebot, November 23, 2005).
  • FMC: New Economics in the Music Creation and Distribution Chain (PaidContent.org, September 12, 2005). Summary of Pakman’s comments at a conference panel discussion.
  • Streaming Media East 2005 Wrap-Up (StreamingMedia.com, May 19, 2005). Summary of Pakman’s comments at the Streaming Media East 2005 conference.
  • eMusic updates it’s business to focus on really promoting independent labels and artists as well as merely selling their tracks (Inside Digital Media, Inc., September 27, 2004). Audio interview by Phil Leigh, with a lot of interesting information on Pakman’s background prior to joining eMusic. Warning: requires installation of the WebEx Java client.