My eMusic Connoisseur package has significantly changed the way I get music from the online store. Having 300 downloads per month rather than 90 has had two major effects. First, I take more risks. I used to be defensive about my downloads: 'I only have 90 until next month, so I should use them wisely'. However, 300 is a large enough number to reverse that thinking: how am I going to use all these downloads'. So I download albums out of curiosity. I pick up things I might not have bothered with otherwise. If the album is disappointing, it makes no difference because I won't miss the downloads I used on it. But if it's great - as Andrew Bird's latest is - it's a huge bonus.
Second, I have to pace myself. On the old plan I'd eagerly wait for my downloads to refresh and then gorge myself on the whole load at once. It's just not possible to take in 300-tracks worth of music in a single sitting like that. Basically I can download 10 tracks - about an albums-worth - every day. In practical terms, it's a limitless supply of music.
Well, almost limitless. The biggest problem with eMusic remains the range of artists and albums on offer. Daft rights deals mean you can find an album you really want only to click through and be faced with the message "We're sorry. This album is unavailable for download in your country (United Kingdom) at this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."
Strangely, the Andrew Bird album that I downloaded at the end of March is now not available to UK users. Did eMusic allow me to download it by mistake or have the rights changed that quickly? eMusic needs to keep the pressure on labels to fix this problem. Holding an album back from internet sale doesn't encourage people to go and buy it on CD, it encourages them to download it from a filesharing site.
I realise that my appetite for new music is unusually high. Still I wonder what would happen to the music industry if everyone paid a monthly subscription that would allow them to access as much music as they could ever want.