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An Open Letter to eMusic: please join the API, data and user experience economies

I have been an eMusic subscriber since 2005. I have seen the company evolve, not always in helpful directions for the customer. Removing the right to re-download already purchased tracks was a bad mistake. I would even argue doing do so was breach of contract, though I am not exactly going to hire a lawyer to fight the case. It was exactly that feature – redownload- that attracted many users to the service in the first place. eMusic was cloud storage before cloud storage was invented. Fantastic for users! A no DRM library of my music in the sky. WIN!

In January 2006 I wrote iTunes sucks: Use eMusic instead. DRM is digital lard, but so is download once.

But eMusic worried it didn’t have enough hits from the Big Record Companies, and needed to be more than a niche service for true music lovers in order to compete with the likes of iTunes. It didn’t have Apple’s leverage though.

Today as the web leviathans move to streaming, with automated cloud backups, and Amazon making your existing music collection available for streaming, increasingly eMusic feels like other services got the memo that eMusic ORIGINALLY had. Look after the customer. I don’t want streaming, I just eMusic to manage my music collection so I don’t need to.

Removing the re download feature really became an issue when I managed to have an external hard drive failure at the same time as an old laptop went on the fritz. I lost thousands of tracks.

I would not say I have reconciled myself to the loss, but it is what it is. There is a more day to day annoyance however, which is the fact I can’t easily browse or do anything with the history of my downloads. eMusic only makes download information available in a cludgy, alphabetical order only interface.

With an API, you could be so much more. Music startups are popping up all over the place. Why not be a platform partner for them? See thisisismyjam or Soundcloud or Songkick to name just three. Or just allow for me to download a CSV file of my music history. We’re entering an era where the value is in the data, but if eMusic isn’t using the data, and it isn’t allowing developer to use the data, its quite simply missing a trick. With History, and a purchase API, eMusic could get back to its (grass)roots.

Enter the world of API-driven curation. Please come back to us.

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One Response

  1. I’m surprised you’re still with them – I gave up on them 2-3 years ago when they went all mainstream,and crowded out the great indie stuff with BigCo tracks that were “not available for download in your country” …
    I still have one thing to thank eMusic for – it’s how you and I “met” when we both commented on a Fred Wilson post :)



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