|eMusic has decided to come in from the cold and open up its doors to anyone, instead of being a subscription-only online music store. They made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and this should make eMusic more competitive. My only question is why they waited so long.
eMusic has been around selling music for over a decade, and the eMusic free trial served as the gateway to gaining memberships long before the idea of a paywall was fashionable with the media elite like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. With online music stores like iTunes, AmazonMP3 and Google Play all using open-door models, it's a wonder that they held on to the eMusic membership all of these years.
eMusic CEO Adam Klein told the CES audience "While our focus and core audience remains the same, our new business model now opens eMusic up for everyone to enjoy what we bring to the table: insightful editorial that we curate independently from our sales division, and personalized discovery technology that draws upon the diverse tastes of our unique eMusic community."
To be clear -- the eMusic membership option isn't ending, it's just not required anymore. eMusic includes an extensive editorial and features section plus their eMusic Scenes app. Under the new mode of operating, customers don't need to join to buy music or access to any eMusic review or editorial content, which used to require an eMusic membership.
eMusic originally branded themselves as an indie retailer to gain street cred, but found that they later needed to bring in major labels like EMI and Warner Music to be able to compete.
The story that I'm reading here with eMusic is that a faded star is struggling to innovate and keep up with fast-paced change in the music and technology worlds, two worlds that move at the speed of light.
I think it's good that they're embracing the theory of The Long Tail and I'm interested in seeing how this plays out over the next year and a half -- both Myspace and eMusic seem to be updating for the times. This is interesting because they were front-runners of the online indie music scene who became faded then forgotten as the first decade of this century played out. Now they're pivoting to new ideas to keep up with the furious pace of change in the online world.