The second biggest music download service is the US has launched across all 25 European Union countries today.
eMusic, which has a 13% share in the market, compared with Apple iTunes 70% share, has unveiled its subscription service in the UK, and is the first legal downloading site in smaller EU countries like Malta Hungary.
The company brings yet another business model to the online music industy; although it’s a subscription service like Napster, its music files are non-DRM MP3 files, and once downloaded, are owned by the subscriber.
This means eMusic downloads can be transferred to unlimited portable devices, both iPods and Windows Media-based devices, and burned to CD as many times as you wish. And unlike the new ad-based site SpiralFrog, you can keep all the songs you download; there’s no Secure Clock protection on them.
How can eMusic offer this where others have failed? Simple: the company doesn’t have agreements with the major record labels to sell their tracks, and therefore doesn’t have to adhere to their strict DRM rules.
Instead, eMusic 1.7 million songs from 8500 independent record labels. This doesn’t mean that it offers all no-name artists. Currently, the service has albums from Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Franz Ferdinand, Bjork, and The Raconteurs on its books.
So how does it work for the customer? There are three subscriptions on offer: £9 for 40 downloads a month; £12 for 65; and £15 for 90. At the moment, the site is offering 25 songs for free during the first 2 weeks of subscription.
eMusic is aiming for a slightly different market than iTunes. Its target audience is 25- to 55-year-olds who are interested in jazz and classical music, as well as older hits.
In order to make the site more user-friend, eMusic has added its take on social networking, offering an eMusic Toolbar which gives members a free MP3 download every day, provides quick search of the catalogues, and lets them share information with “Neighbours” and “Friends.”
Also available are editorials, recommendations, and reviews by over 120 music journalists.