Why I’m Leaving eMusic

I’ve been a member of eMusic for several years, and I wrote a somewhat positive article about the site back in 2008. But I’ve decided to quit eMusic. I’ve had enough of the way they work. Here’s why.

First, it’s interesting to note that, aside from pricing changes, nothing that I criticized in 2008 has been changed. The site is still ugly and clunky, tagging is still bad (track names are truncated if they’re too long), and searching sucks (though searching via Google with site:emusic.com works). Artist listings are still bad, with classical artists being listed many times, making it hard to browse. And the forums still look like it’s 1995.

But what’s changed since 2008 is that eMusic added a number of major labels, and changed their pricing structure. While you still get a fixed number of downloads per month (the price increase of last year lowered my monthly amount from 50 to 37, quite a steep and sudden change), many albums are only available as albums. In other words, in the past, you could buy single tracks or multi-track works, but now, in many cases, you can only buy complete albums for 12 credits. (To be fair, you can also buy many albums that contain more than 12 tracks for 12 credits, but not as many as I would like.)

What’s really bad about eMusic is their total disregard for their customers. I’ve had a number of tracks that were messed up in one way or another. Yet, in spite of my contacting eMusic about this, all they do is give me a single download credit and never get the track fixed. This is particularly irksome with classical music, where a messed up track in, say, a symphony or sonata ruins the entire work. Then there was a problem with downloads via Safari using Snow Leopard. eMusic, in spite of all the customer complaints, didn’t fix this, and I only found out that there was a “beta” version of their download manager after posting an angry comment on a forum (a customer service rep contacted me directly, rather than posting this on the forum).

The last straw was today when I realized that I had lost the nine credits I had remaining from last month. You see, eMusic renews your credits once a month, and does not roll over unused credits (even sleazy cellphone companies roll over unused minutes for one month). On top of that, they renew your credits every thirty days, not on, say, the 6th of every month. So you never know from one month to the next when your credits run out, unless you check your account info (this info could easily be displayed on the eMusic page next to where your credits are shown, but, no, they wouldn’t want to do this and help you out.) So I got burned again. This is not the first time, but it is the last.

I’ve downloaded 36 of my last 37 credits today (three albums at 12 credits each). I’m going to listen to them to make sure the tracks are okay; if not, I need to be a member to re-download them. After that, it’s goodbye.

Oh, and, by the way; this just happens to be good timing if Apple announces some sort of iTunes streaming subscription service tomorrow. I’ll be more than happy to consider a streaming subscription to sample all the music that I’m curious about, but hesitant to buy.