After almost two years of groundwork, eMusic pressed the button today (Sept. 12) on a digital music operation servicing all 25 European Union member states.

After almost two years of groundwork, eMusic pressed the button today (Sept. 12) on a digital music operation servicing all 25 European Union member states.

At launch, the online retailer offers 1.7 million titles, including tracks from Basement Jaxx, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Franz Ferdinand and Bob Marley. Repertoire is licensed from 8,500 independent record labels, among them Beggars Group, Edel, Domino and Ministry of Sound.

David Pakman, CEO of New York-based eMusic is confident its European business will make an immediate impact. "I fully expect, in the short term, we'll be the No. 2 service in each of the territories. We also want to be the No. 1 seller of independent music across Europe. I think that will happen also very quickly," Pakman tells Billboard.biz.

Affiliates have been established in London and Amsterdam, under the direction of eMusic Europe president Steve McCauley.

As with the company's U.S. service, which was founded in 1998, eMusic's European repertoire is encoded in the open MP3 format, with no digital rights management limitations. Because of that policy, the four major music companies have not yet agreed to supply content to the service.

"eMusic has been an independent music site since its inception and is the leader in that," Pakman notes. "We're committed to compatibility." Content licensing talks are ongoing with the majors, he adds.

The U.K. site charges monthly subscription rates of £8.99 ($16.74) for 40 downloads, £11.99 ($22.33) for 65 downloads or £14.99 ($27.92) for 90 downloads. The pan-European version, which works in euros, offers packages at €12.99 ($16.49), €16.99 ($21.57) and €20.99 ($26.65), respectively. The service allows users to keep their downloaded libraries even if their subscription lapses.

Dutch author society Buma/Stemra will handle royalty collection across the 25 EU states.

Moreover, Pakman says the plans are to launch local-language-specific operations in Germany, France, Italy and Spain, as "early as we can" in 2007.

"This is the beginning of our international expansion, not the end of it," he notes. "We've identified priority markets, some are English speaking, some aren't. Certainly the Far East, Australia, Canada are all interesting markets that we will hit at some point. We're moving as quickly as possible."

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