You couldn't swing a dead cat at the NARM convention without hearing a conversation about subscription services. Most people have a "wait and see" attitude about upstart companies like Spotify with both paid and free streaming services. eMusic CEO Adam Klein seems to have made up his mind, however - and he likes them.
Subscription services allow people to discover music, and eMusic will be there when they want to buy downloads, Klein tells Billboard.biz. "We're in the owning business, because that's what people want as well as streaming. They want to discover."
Klein says he likes the creativity that has come from subscription services opening their APIs and tapping into large communities of developers. "It creates creativity. That's a clumsy sentence, but it really does. To me, that's one of the most exciting aspects of what I'm seeing come out of [subscription services] at the moment."
Subscription services are also helping eMusic by changing the conversations Klein has with record labels regarding uses of their music. Labels are more open to innovation now that they've stepped outside of their comfort zone and embrace subscription service models, says Klein. He attributes part of that openness to eMusic's ability to prove its model and assuage fears it's a threat to labels' iTunes business, but he recognizes the role subscription services have played, too.
"If the labels are prepared to create - and I encourage that they create - opportunities for experimentation, then they've got to do it with other experimentation. So it's allowed us to start having some interesting discussions."
Klein wouldn't give details about those discussions with labels. He says eMusic is "absolutely" moving into mobile access and pointed to its just-launched Android app. He says the entire eMusic site will be tailored for smartphones and tablets in the next few weeks. And he expressed a desire for streaming and purchasing to take place in a single environment. "It's a bust if they have to leave the site, go somewhere else, come back. Why can't this be more seamless? Why can't we link into those sorts of environments?"