LONDON (Hypebot) – When eMusic recently added major label Sony to its previously indie only music subscription service, it also increased prices per download. Still cheaper than iTunes and others, the reaction from many eMusic fans was strong and negative.
Since the initial announcement, the company has been on a bit of a campaign to clarify why the price hikes happened; and in an interview with Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk, eMusic CEO Danny Stein said that it was the independent record labels and not a deal with the big bad Sony that forced the price increases:
"Our existing labels, for the most part, have been asking us to raise prices for a long time. What I told the New York Times is that we were looking for a “catalyzing event” to do it. And really, the catalyzing event is adding catalog, adding more content. We used this as an opportunity to do it, but we didn’t do it because of Sony…
We did it because in order to sustain the economics for our label suppliers and their artists, we needed to do it.
…The price change is something that all of our labels have been asking for, for a long time, and it’s really a necessary move for us to maintain a viable business."
But several indie entrepreneurs that have spoken publicly since the announcement and others who have talked to Hypebot privately paint a very different picture. It does not appear that eMusic consulted many of its indie label "partners" before the Sony announcement and price increase.
While any label wants more revenue, some members of the indie community admitted, a major strength of eMusic was low price music discovery and that equation has changed with the price increases. Another often mentioned complaint is that eMusic's uniqueness as an indie only community has been destroyed with the addition of Sony.