eMusic has always had a slightly left of center approach to selling digital downloads. eMusic offers music consumers the opportunity to pay a monthly subscription fee for access to their song catalogs and download a certain number of songs per month – $12 bucks gets you 24 songs, $32 bucks a month allows you to download up to 73 songs a month. That’s a lot of music for a pretty good price – certainly a lot cheaper than your average iTunes song.
They used to be primarily focused on independent labels, lacking the deals to add the big four record label’s music to their catalog. But that has changed in the last couple of years and now eMusic has deals with all four. They also started selling audiobooks a few years back as well.
Now they are launching genre based Internet radio streams as well. Join the club! According to Billboard, eMusic will offer streams of music curated by eMusic’s editorial staff. There are a wide variety of offerings from punk and alt-country to electronica and “fresh jazz”. Streams are available to eMusic U.S. subscribers for free for up to ten hours of listening per month. Non-subscribers may get to try them out soon as well.
So eMusic wants to take on Pandora and Spotify? I doubt it. It sounds like eMusic – and perhaps the labels it’s partnered with as well – are noticing that streaming has a positive effect on music purchases. They’re planning to add a buy button to the player, and they certainly have the buy in of their record label partners. Though it hasn’t been quantified in a while, I’ve seen data out there that shows Pandora selling lots of songs for iTunes and Amazon to their listeners.
Tunecore, a company that enables artists to sell their music on digital platforms without a label, has released some interesting data on digital music behavior. Tunecore is a digital music distribution service that set out to democratize music distribution by making it simple and affordable for any artist to offer songs for sale. For a fee, an independent artist can place their song in selected online stores and streaming services and receive compensation based on the number of sales it generates.
Artists register with TuneCore, select the online platforms they would like to have their music placed on, upload their songs, pay, and get paid for every song sold or streamed with those services. Last year the service placed 61,000,000 songs and artists received $32,000,000 in compensation. TuneCore takes no percentage of the revenue artists earn. They work placing music with iTunes, Rhapsody, MySpace Music, Amazon, eMusic and others.
Artists can earn money from two different types of sales – permanent downloads, where customers purchase the song and download a file; and streams – where a listener pays a subscription fee to listen to songs – in that case, the listener is actually “leasing” the song, as TuneCore’s faq’s explain.
In 2009, 40% of TuneCore’s sales were from single track downloads and 57% were from streaming (which is per song). The other 2.3% of revenues were full album downloads. For song downloads, Rock is the most popular genre, followed by Alternative and Hip Hop. For streaming sales, Hip Hop wins followed by Alternative and Rock. Sunday is the best day for sales and Christmas day and the day after were the biggest days for song sales in the last six months. There’s even more data available, here.
AT&T has launched a new mobile music platform that delivers “song and album downloads, streaming radio, song match, lyric search and an enhanced music player – into a single, cohesive experience for AT&T mobile phones.” AT&T will charge customers $6.99 a month on top of a data plan fee, with song and album purchases charged a la carte.
The service will extend streaming music capabilities to “quick messaging phones”, also sometimes called feature phones, or non-smartphones. It’s currently available on three popular devices – LG Xenon, Samsung Solstice and Samsung Impression. It will soon be available for downloads on other phones and AT&T will begin pre-loading it on new devices this summer.
AT&T has clearly identified streaming music as a popular application for mobile devices, and created this platform to offer customers who are not using smartphones those capabilities. I’m sure they’re hoping those customers will see a good reason to purchase unlimited data plans so they can stream.
Meanwhile, Nielsen recently reported that smartphones will overtake other mobile devices by the end of next year as more and more customers choose to upgrade. The use of Wi-Fi increases from 5% for feature phone owners to 50% for smartphone users because smartphones give users more ways to utilize a broadband connection. Now AT&T has created a platform that enables feature phone customers with some of those capabilities.
Meanwhile, it’s all a good thing for the growing Internet radio audience…