EMusic versus iTunes

eMusicIn just a few days of having a trial membership to EMusic, I’ve already downloaded more songs than I have in months of browsing the Apple iTunes Music Store, and this in spite of how much my bias towards all things Apple wanted to like the that Mac-only service. Once or twice a week, I would browse its catalog, hoping that I would come across some music that was remotely interesting enough for me to shell out 99¢ or more, but more often than not, I came up short — the albums I wanted were missing, or their track listings omitted crucial songs. I think I bought one album and three individual songs from the iTMS, for a grand total of about US$13.

By contrast, after only a few days of browsing, I’m ready to commit to at least a three-month membership at EMusic at the rate of at US$14 per month. While EMusic may not offer the breadth of the major labels’ blandest, most mainstream albums, it stocks an impressive supply of more obscure releases — the kind of music to which I naturally gravitate.

Here’s what I’ve downloaded so far:

  • The Fall “Bend Sinister”
  • Interpol “Turn on the Bright Lights”
  • Ted Leo & the Pharmacists “The Tyranny of Distance”
  • Peanut Butter Wolf “Best of Peanut Butter Wolf”

These are nowhere to found in the iTMS, and even if they were, they would be somewhat inelegantly hobbled by Apple’s earnest but imperfect FairPlay rights-management system. By contrast, the EMusic offering is entirely MP3-based, meaning that I have exactly the same freedom with these tracks as I would with any MP3s that I legally rip from CDs that I own.

This leaves me feeling pretty bearish on the iTunes Music Store; its selection is so paltry that I can’t see myself spending any serious money there anytime soon. I still hold out hope for it to improve though, especially with promises for the inclusion of more independent record labels. In the meantime, I expect EMusic will win my dollars… and, for better or worse, it will continue to feed my recent insatiability for more and more music.


One Comment

  1. Like Netflix, I think EMusic has the right mp3 model. Especially for people with tastes that lean towards the more independent and obscure, EMusic has an impressive catalogue of out of print and hard to find albums and CD’s. And the price of one CD a month for as much to download? That’s a deal that’s too good to pass up.

    PS. You really need to fix the “Remember my info” cookie 😉

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