eMusic Alternatives?

I’ve often raved about eMusic.com, a subscription-based MP3 site. I’ve discovered literally thousands of great albums through it over the years, and have had nothing but good things to say about it. I’ve got music from there ranging from bands like Vampire Weekend to Benny Goodman, by way of Captain Beefheart, Candypants, Sun Ra, Kristian Hoffman and Hank Williams. However, that’s changed. They used to be purely an indie-label site, but last year they got Sony on board, and last month they also got Universal. That’s fine as far as it goes – more music is good – but it’s led to three changes in the last month:

1) The price per track has increased dramatically. This is OK for me, as I’m grandfathered in to the point where I get them for three price-rises ago’s price, but it’s not a good sign long-term.
2) They’ve changed the rules. You used to be able to re-download stuff you’d previously purchased – now you have to re-buy it. This is especially annoying for me as I lost a huge chunk of my music about six months ago in a hard disc failure, and still have about twenty albums I’d not re-downloaded. They also lied on their forums and said the rule hadn’t changed. It has.
3) The changes to their contracts with the labels have led to a load of major-indies (Beggar’s Banquet and Matador among others) leaving.

The end result of this is that when I search on there now for, say, Linus Of Hollywood, whose music I’ve bought from there in the past, I get directed to Frankie Goes To Hollywood instead. My reason for using eMusic in the first place was that it made it easy to get music that I couldn’t find anywhere else, and relatively inexpensively. Now, I can actually find more of what I want at Amazon (which is absolutely bizarre given that I have relatively niche tastes), and while Amazon is moderately more expensive, it doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee.

So I’m quitting eMusic, sadly, but I wonder if anyone knows of any sites that are like eMusic used to be? I’d very much like to keep buying independent music from independent sites, and not just switch to buying everything from Amazon – I don’t like monopolies. I know about Spotify, obviously, and CDBaby, and plan to continue using both, but does anyone know of a site where you can buy MP3s by, say, Joanna Newsom, the Now People, Lionel Hampton, Frank Sidebottom and Mark Bacino (to name five people whose music I bought from there at random)?

If not, there’s a real gap in the market – if not for a site like eMusic, at least for a decent Amazon storefront to point people to stuff that eMusic used to specialise in…

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1 Response to eMusic Alternatives?

  1. Christine says:

    It’s a shame to hear how Emusic has ended up. I was an on-and-off subscriber in the past, as I could afford, but when they shut out some countries, I could not reactivate. I’ve really missed it, but it sounds like I’m not missing much at all now.

    Amie St was a fantastic alternative, I was sorry to see it go. Not as extensive a range as Emusic, but I found some amazing things on there, sometimes as low as $1 an album (or free). I hope another alternative comes along soon.

    This doesn’t fit your independent store criteria, but I’ve found 7digital good for picking up some cheap, high bitrate mp3 albums. I’ve gotten some good stuff in their bargain section for $3-5: Beck, Best Coast, School Of Seven Bells, Rolling Stones, Caribou, El Perro Del Mar, Bat For Lashes, New York Dolls, Nick Drake. Also some mutli-disc comps are at normal album prices, $8, and they have worked out as little as 8c/song.

    I do wish I had an alternative that let me discover as much exciting music as Emusic, but I do find that at least 7digital lets me supplement my CD buying with a few albums I might not be able to afford or might not give a chance otherwise.

    BTW I also bought both Candypants and Sun Ra from Emusic ;).

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