eMusic crosses the Atlantic

Since the beginning of the year I've been using eMusic for music downloads. It's a great service and one that tackles many of the problems with the record industry's increasingly moribund business model: for a monthly fee you get a fixed number of downloads and the music is DRM-free. The top subscription, which I have, costs $19.99 (£10.57) for 90 tracks per month. I can easily download 90 tracks in a day and then spend the rest of the month waiting for my subscription to renew. Their catalogue is based entirely on independent labels and they tend to cater for the more obscure end of the market but that suits me just fine.

Since I joined I've been collecting the stunning Ethiopiques series of albums as well as some cracking electronica and a few classics.

Last week eMusic opened European and UK stores. The good news is that this has made more tracks available. Some artists will only license their work in the UK or Europe so these can now be added to the site. UK subscribers can now get recordings from the Domino or XL catalogues, for example. The bad news is that the prices have gone up, mostly because of VAT and other taxes that Americans don't have to worry about.

Instead of £10.57 per month I'll now pay £12.78, which is a discount rate eMusic are giving to those who were subscribers before the switch. They say it's the same rate as before but with 17.5 per cent VAT added. I'm told I can keep this rate as long as I keep my subscription "active and in good standing". What does 'good standing' mean?

New UK subscribers will pay £14.99 per month and new European subscribers will pay €20.99 (£14.12). The Swindleeeee!!!!! blog has a full breakdown of price increases.

Still I don't mind the price increase. Thirteen quid for 90 tracks is still phenomenally good value and as long as eMusic doesn't bring in DRM I'll remain a customer.