review of eMusic.com

2 08 2006

If you have not heard of eMusic.com, let me introduce you to them.  They sell music online without DRM (encryption).  And they’re now ranked number two in downloaded music sales, behind iTunes.  (This is great!  Perhaps the major labels will see that a company selling unencrypted MP3 files can make a lot of money.)  The songs cost around a quarter each.  They will play on just about any portable music player, including the iPod.  The only drawback is that they don’t have all the music from the major labels.  So if you’re looking for “Top 40” music you hear on the mainstream radio stations, you won’t find all of it here.  But there is a lot of indie music that is really good, some of it even better than what you’ll hear on the radio.  And they’ve even addressed the issue of finding the good music among the more than a million available tracks by hiring some distinguished music critics to write reviews.

Here’s an excerpt from a review of this company :

They’re doing a lot of things right. The site works well, downloads are quick, and it has plenty of tools with which to discover new music. The music itself is high bit rate VBR MP3 files, and it sounds terrific. Still, you’ll need to have a musical taste at least slightly outside the mainstream for the site to interest you in the long term. We’ve talked mainly about indie rock, but eMusic also has massive jazz and classical sections (it recently acquired the entire Naxos catalog, for instance), and is also a good place to go for (of all things) comedy albums.

Right now they have a two-week free trial where you can download 25 songs for free, and they’re yours to keep even if you decide to cancel.  So if you enjoy finding new music, it costs you nothing to try it out.

I signed up, and there are a number of artists I’ve heard of before, although there’s not a lot of current “Top 40” artists.  But I haven’t had any trouble finding new songs I like.  There are usually links to similar artists (as referred by fans).  The downloads are quick, and the website is easy to use.  You don’t have to install any software, although there is an optional download manager if you want to use it.  They have three plans to choose from if you stay with them.  The Basic plans offers 40 downloads per month at $9.99/month — that’s about 25 cents per song.  The other plans are an even better deal, offering more songs per month at a reasonable price.  So for less than the cost of a CD, you can get 40 songs of your choosing.  It’s a great deal, if you have the time and desire to browse for good music.

Here’s a few well-known artists that I’ve found on there (although you might not find all of an artist’s CDs) :

The Cathedrals (just a few, although one is “Alive! Deep In The Heart of Texas”, which is one of the best Southern Gospel CDs ever, IMO).  Gold City (quite a few).  Anthony Burger.  Carmen (just a couple of obscure ones).  Dottie Peoples.  Phil Driscoll.  Take 6.  Pillar (the self-released debut; sadly that’s all by them).  Chris Rice.  Watermark.  The Kingdom Heirs.  Karen Peck and New River.  The Trio.  Maynard Ferguson (jazz, trumpet).  Poncho Sanchez (Latin jazz, some great stuff).  Jimmy McGriff (great Hammond B-3 organ player).  Also, some samplers will have some of the “Top 40” artists where you can get individual songs by artists like Sonic Flood, Third Day, DC Talk, Steven Curtis Chapman, etc.

If reading my review helps you decide to join, let me know, because I can get 50 free songs if I refer someone that signs up (and stays at least 30 days).  You’ll still get the trial offer with 25 free songs.

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3 01 2007
Beppo’s Blog » Blog Archive » Will the RIAA authorize DRM-free online music in 2007?

[…] FYI, if you want to buy some DRM-free MP3 music that will work on any MP3 player and that will let you burn CDs however you like, try eMusic.com.  I reviewed them a while back and am still a subscriber.  It’s great.  Almost all their albums are reviewed, it’s easy to explore new music, and the songs are around 18 cents each, under my current plan.  While they don’t have a lot of the “Top 40″ music, there is some (usually on compilations), and you can find quite a few artists you know of.  Plus you can find a lot of artists you’ve never heard of that are just as good as (or better) than what you hear on the radio. […]

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