June 21, 2008

An Open Letter to eMusic

Filed under: Music, Not Tech — Chris @ 5:08 pm

I regret to inform you I am canceling my eMusic subscription,
effective immediately. Although I admire the fact that you have
provided DRM-free music downloads since the pre-Napster era and try my
best to support small, independent businesses, my dissatisfaction with
your service has been too great for too long and the convenience and
selection offered by your competitors (e.g., Amazon’s MP3 store) is
too good to pass up. It pains me to see big players like Amazon and
Apple push companies like eMusic out of business, but if you are to
survive, you will have to be more innovative and customer-focused than
you have been in the time that I have subscribed. I hope that you will
re-think your business model, increase the value of your product, and
win me back as a customer in the future.

In that spirit, I want to offer some specific advice about how your
service could improve.

– Your site provides almost no information about what albums will be
available when. So far as I can tell, the only information provided
is a small “Coming Soon” box with no more than 8 artists—often
just the names of the artists without release dates—in the bottom
corner of the “New on eMusic” page. Albums that have been released
and are available for download elsewhere are not acknowledged on
the artist page, not even to say “this album will be available
soon.” For example, Sloan’s “Parallel Play” has been available on
Amazon since June 10. As of June 21, I can find no information on
your site about whether this album will ever be available, even
though you offer all of Sloan’s previous albums on the same label.

– If I want to download an album with more tracks than I have in my
monthly subscription, a pop-up asks me if I want to upgrade my
subscription (i.e., to permanently increase my monthly fee and
download allotment). Although there are “Booster Packs” allowing
the one-time download of 10 or 20 tracks, this option is not
presented in the pop-up, nor in the page presented when one clicks
on “More Options”—only a savvy and determined user will find
them. The Booster Packs should not only be made easily available at
this point, there should be an additional option that you do not
provide: to download as many tracks as I have available within my
subscription and queue up the remaining tracks for download when my
account refreshes. This doesn’t have to be the first option
presented—I understand the desire to nudge your users towards
more spending more money on the site—but it should be available
(and one should not cross the line from nudging your customers to
misleading them and ripping them off).

These two points may seem inconsequential, but they have been a
constant source of annoyance for me. It is small matters like these
that build a customer relationship that survives a spotty selection
and waiting for the latest indie hits.

Best regards,


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