eMusic, one of the Internet's original music services, is today relaunching under a vastly different model than other contemporary services. The "fully overhauled and upgraded" eMusic is based around a music ownership model rather than an access streaming model and offers users free and discounted downloads, cloud-based storage, universal access on any device and a catalog of 32 million titles exclusively from independent labels.
“The all-new eMusic appeals to passionate, knowledgeable music fans who are driven by discovery and take great pride in their music collections,” said Tamir Koch, CEO of TriPlay, the cloud-based company that purchased eMusic in Oct. 2015, in a statement. “eMusic members have spent countless hours growing and curating their private music libraries and see value in the power of their personal cloud through eMusic."
The pricing tiers for the new service range from free, which offers users unlimited cloud storage and access to one's own music collection (as well as photos, audio books and videos) and a free daily music download from emerging artists; to paid plans which range from $3.99 per month and includes unlimited access to songs at up to 55 percent off retail for downloads, and go all the way up to $29.99 per month "for the music connoisseur."
The release specifically mentioned "indie, classical and jazz" music.
The plans also allow for use of up to 10 devices simultaneously and works with both Android and iOS operating systems and Web based platforms.
When asked what the advantages of an ownership model would be versus an access model, Koch was quick to point out to Billboard what is perhaps eMusic's biggest advantage. "Once you stop paying Apple Music, Spotify and the rest you lose everything," the CEO said. "With us you can be on a plan, buy whatever you want, bring it into your collection and say, 'You know what I'm done, I'm not paying anymore.' And still everything will be available to you, you won't lose anything."
Another aspect of the new eMusic that Koch is confident in is the new service's discovery ability which he said is the "first music service that will recommend new content based on your collection and not on your purchase history." Though that discovery may be limited without any major label catalog, Koch says that shouldn't matter. "We'll still be able to point you to the correct labels, artists and albums in the indie world that cater to your music tastes," he said.
The original eMusic was founded in 1998 as a digital music store and was one of the first sites to sell MP3s without what many considered to be the onerous digital rights management technology. While the service never achieved wide-spread adoption, it was beloved by its core users for its wide selection of independent music as well as its download-to-own aspect. The service eventually came to include major label fare.
In 2014 eMusic launched Wondering Sound, an acclaimed music editorial vertical run by J. Edward Keyes (who is now at Bandcamp), which was cut down before the end of its first year.
TriPlay acquired eMusic in September 2015 and rebuilt it using its proprietary cloud technology. The service said it expects to soon add HD & Hi-Res audio, advanced classical music search and players for connected smart TVs, smart watches and smart home devices.
The new eMusic is banking on catering to underserved audience as well as its ability to pay artists more than streaming services. "The music collector market remains strong," Koch stated, "and we now offer a holistic music service with multiple value propositions that benefit the user as well as the artist, with a business model that ensures artists receive fair pay for their hard work and creativity, while enabling the company to be profitable.”
That scenario, much like every other music service, will depend on eMusic's ability to attract paying customers.