A raw deal from eMusic

I thought this would happen. eMusic is cutting the number of downloads European customers get every month, just as they did with American customers last year. Instead of the current top subscription plan, which gets me 90 tracks per month for £12.78 (that's a special price I get for being a customer before they came to Europe, new customers pay £14.99 per month), from February 20 new eMusic customers will get just 75 tracks for the same price. In real terms the price goes up from 14p per track to 17p per track.

Basic subscribers, who pay £8.99, will get 30 monthly downloads instead of the previous 40 - that's an increase from 22p per track to 29p per track. Subscribers to the Plus plan will get 50 tracks instead of 65 for their £11.99 fee - that's 23p a track rather than 18p.

However, it's the cut to the number of tracks that bothers me, not the cost. Having 90 tracks available every month gives customers the opportunity to experiment. Each month I take a risk on a couple of albums. When those risks pay off I end up buying even more music as a result, which benefits eMusic. New customers will have less opportunity for that kind of experimentation.

Sure you can top up your eMusic subscription with 'booster packs' but the cheapest of these works out at 27p per track - double the current price and that's assuming the price stays the same after February.

If you're thinking of joining eMusic my advice would be to join before February 20. After that? Well, I'm not sure I'd recommend it. Amazon may have their store up-and-running soon and, if it's DRM-free, they could be a better bet. I think I'll take it but I'm disappointed in eMusic. I thought they were more forward-looking than this.

Update: Thanks to Dana (see comments below) who points out that these changes do not affect existing customers. I've re-written the post to reflect that.