I subscribed to eMusic.com a couple of weeks ago. They’re running a promotion where, if you sign up, you get 25 free songs to try the system out and if you cancel you don’t pay a cent. If you do decide to hand over your hard earned cash you pay 33 cents a song. Not the 99 cents at another certain i-Site. There are a lot of pluses and one or two minuses to this site.
On the plus. NO DRM (digital rights management). Yes, we get treated like people and not thieves at this site. You can put the songs on all your machines, on your iPod and back them up without going through hell. Surprisingly I haven’t shared one song I’ve bought from the site. For 33 cents you can get it yourself you cheapo.
They have a massive library of albums. The charts stretch down to about 7000 albums (over 1 million songs). Which is fairly amazing and incredibly daunting if you have no way of searching through it. Most people know a few bands they like and typically want more of that style. So if you find your band, emusic has a small, yet powerful, list of related bands on the right. Who came before, who is their contemporary and who followed them. Very important when you can buy albums back to the 1930’s. Who influenced who is incredibly important in the fresh music search. It’s all cross referenced.
Then you have the typical “what other people who liked this album liked”. This links into a brilliant Neighbours and Friends system that tracks people with a statistically similar taste to you which helps you stumble over more treasure.
They have an Emusic Magazine which highlights interesting stuff in the vaults as well as an eMusic Dozen section. This is where journalists and people who spend more time with music than I ever will collect twelve great songs or albums, explain why they’re interesting and how they’re linked and, again, kick up some really interesting finds.
The site has a simple app that you download to your machine that handles the file transfers. Fast and clean in my experience.
You can obviously preview all the music. This is where I find the system a bit crap. I run a mac so it may just be my problem. But it insists on downloading a streaming Quicktime file before I can listen to the clips. I’ve found that using Songbird to surf eMusic gets rid of this. That’s because Songbird can play all sorts of media files through the browser instead of using separate apps. Very convenient.
They don’t seem to get all the pop music releases right away. Which is fine. iTunes can do that and if I need it I’ll get it there. eMusic makes the history of music available to me and that is incredibly decent of them. Especially since I’ve stopped listening to the radio and being a teenager. Anything older than a year or as “obscure” as Bloc Party can be found pretty damn easily. And the hip hop and electronic sections are (probably because they have modern distribution plans) very cool.
I’ve barely mentioned all the ways that eMusic helps you expand your musical horizons. Interviews, history, profiles etc etc etc. I recommend the site for audiophiles (name a genre you obscure bastard, I dare you) of all sorts and people who like a cool track.
I’ve found Deerhoof “Friend Opportunity”, The Black Keys “ThickFreakness”, Dudley Perkins “Whassup World” off “Chrome Children” and I have a few new ones I’m thinking about. I dare you to try the same blind music hunt on iTunes.