Back in the dark ages of 1998, eMusic offered up one of the first online music subscription services: you would pay a monthly fee, and be able to download a number of DRM-free MP3s straight to your Pentium 100 desktop computer. That meant you could download the likes of ‘C’est La Vie’ by B*Witched, ‘Iris’ by The Goo Goo Dolls, and anything at all you like from the Godzilla soundtrack for a much cheaper price than you’d pay for a CD. Plus it was completely legal, which was a step up from the likes of Napster and other legally-dubious sharing sites angering hard rock bands at the time.
Of course, time marches forward, and that original eMusic model is as archaic as those songs you downloaded from it. (Also, I’m pretty sure you downloaded ‘Pretty Fly For A White Guy’ that year, too.)
Today they have relaunched their service, and remain tied to an ownership model rather than a streaming/access one, targeting those who wish to curate music while still feeling a sense of ownership. It’s surprising that people are more willing to trust their own digital library of files, even though it is one spilled-beer-on-the-laptop away from being reduced to rubble, but that seems to be the case; eMusic offers cloud-based storage to split the difference, and offers a catalogue of 32 million tunes – all from independent labels.
It’s this blend of independent artists, and music ownership that will hopefully see eMusic carve its own niche.