James Governor's Monkchips

iTunes sucks: Use eMusic instead

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One way to make a declaration of independence is with an economic boycott.
If we’re not going to pay that tax for our tea, we’d should burn it or dump it in the sea instead. Music, like tea, is one of life’s great pleasures.
So although Apple’s user experience is generally solid, we should not get sucked into its Fairplay DRM scheme. Notice how Apple pulled a Clean Skies, No Child Left behind stunt there? Microsoft’s own example, meanwhile, of saying one thing and meaning the opposite is PlaysforSure.
But Fair play means Fair Use. (is that a slogan?) 
Apple’s user experience is becoming more jagged. At least one extremely smart guy who is absolutely passionate about music, Fred Wilson, says iTunes sucks. Of course Fair Play sucks – DRM is digital lard, clogging the arteries of our digital lifestyle. (i liked the phrase so much I used it twice.)
According to Fred:
I will not buy music that I cannot remove the DRM from.  And so I have not upgraded to iTunes 6 and I won’t buy music that can only be purchased from iTunes 6.
Why not join Fred?
The refrain – “what do you mean I can’t do that” will become increasingly common given Apple’s integrated aggravation strategy.
So what is the alternative? Mine is eMusic.
How about the complete back catalog of SST Records: Black Flag, Minutemen, Soundgarden.. or if you prefer Fugazi on Dischord.
There is a ton of great blues and soul on there, and electronic and classical music. Just a cornucopia of excellent stuff. eMusic may not offer every mainstream hit but its a pretty good example of a Long Tail business model. Where else do you know that has an extensive selection of Bhangra music available to download?
eMusic is doing the right thing- working with artists and labels to make great music available to consumers, which will play on any device.
Here is pricing information:
  • eMusic Basic: $9.99 per month/40 downloads
  • eMusic Plus: $14.99 per month/65 downloads
  • eMusic Premium: $19.99 per month/90 downloads
The company is also focused on the blogosphere. When I recommended the service to Fred, a representative of emusic, Chris McBride, contacted me to offer me 50 free downloads. Thanks Chris. Well done for monitoring, and responding to, blogs.
One annoying part of the service however is the fact UK publishing rights are not always covered. Which means some downloads are only available in the US. Damned music industry!
Why not try a free trial? And if you want any music suggestions let me know – especially on the electronic side. In fact i might as well benefit – if you’re interested feel free to send me an email and I will send out an invite to you, via eMusic, which will mean I get some more freebies.
Its not enough to make declarations or complain in the press, we also need to vote with our wallets. That’s how to make companies reconsider DRM business models.
If its encumbered don’t buy it.


  1. James, you are a man after my own heart! I have had you on my blogroll for awhile now and enjoy your blog, but you now stump for what I agree is the greatest model for a music service (though I’m also quite partial to last.fm, but that’s different). And even better you mention the SST back catalog, which is the main reason I’m joining eMusic in the first place!! eMusic is helping me re-discover my old 80s punk faves, and they have some great spoken word as well, such as Noam Chomsky. (Hint: if you pay for a Winamp license, which is cheap, you will get a 100 free downloads sign up bonus).

    And as much as I’m cheap about things, I appreciate that artists get paid. Go eMusic!

  2. never thought I would hear an Englishman even acknowledge the Boston tea party!

    agree on voting with your dollars

    For vendors I cannot compeletely get away from I have a 90 day blacklist policy. When Delta or Amex really pisses me off, I quit using them for 90 days and then send them receipts from the competitors I used for the last 90 days.

    Make them notice – not sure they notice you or me individually but if more of us did, they would notice…

  3. Vinnie – James is only half-English – what I might call mongrel . James: Seen Shoutcast? Kept me happy with streaming music while I worked into the wee small hours…

  4. Hopefully, more services like Bleep (http://www.bleep.com) will find success. Bleep offers DRM-free, no lock-in music and full track previews on the site. The only unfortunate thing about the service is that you have to like the relatively fringe stuff that they offer (WARP labels). (Which I do.)

  5. great point on bleep Paul. I am a customer already – i had quite a few WARP favorites from the early 90s that I never actually owned, but heard all over the place.

    as dennis says vinnie, i am actually half and half. i have the volume of an american, and the cynicism of a Brit… 🙂 or something like that.

    I have not seen shoutcast, no? wussat?

    thanks scott!

  6. This is even better James: Creative Commons music


    So that you don’t end up subsidising marketing dollars large record companies spend on c**p muzak…

  7. This is also an interesting test of the most popular alternative iPod managers http://ipodmanagers.blogspot.com/
    Some minimalists, some full featured.

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