A Letter to eMusic

eMusic are more or less the good guys of the online digital music business. They are cheap, they sell “good” music – jazz, indie, progressive, avantgarde. They sell high-quality MP3 files and they don’t use CRAP (DRM). They give quite a lot of music for free. All that wasn’t enough for me, though. Still, i really wanted to give them a chance and offered them an opportunity to exploit me. Here’s the letter i sent them:

Hi there,

This “bad feedback” is totally subjective. As the famous break-up line goes, “it’s not you, it’s me”.

You see – i just don’t like to listen to MP3’s. Even if i love the music, i just don’t experience quite the same excitement when i listen to a file on my computer as i do when i listen to a CD or a record or even a magnetic tape.

CD’s, records and tapes are something that i can touch and hold in my hands; MP3’s are just files. I just don’t like them so much. Even if i get them for free, i don’t *enjoy* listening to them.

I downloaded WinAmp and tried your generous free 50 MP3’s offer. I found a lot of great music – Trail of Dead, the Microphones, Stephen Malkmus. The music’s great! And the subscription price is fair! Really! But as i listened to Malkmus’ great “Face The Truth” i wanted to read the CD booklet. But i didn’t have it – i just had a bunch of MP3’s. Even if i would be able to read the whole of the booklet online, i wouldn’t enjoy it half as much as reading a printed one. And no, i don’t want to print one at home – buying good paper and ink would cost me more than buying a CD. And i don’t want to listen to a burned CD. It just disgusts me. I want the original CD and i will probably go to a CD store and buy it. Which is a kind of a rip-off, ‘cuz i already payed for the *music*. Again – it’s not eMusic’s fault; it’s my crazy completism.

But why won’t you make profit out of it? Consider this possibility: I download a whole album on eMusic. If i like it, i can buy a discounted CD at some online CD store. I’d love it! I get access to a lot of good legal music downloads, the record company gets what it wants, eMusic gets subscription fees.

I tried looking for something like it at your website, but couldn’t find it. If there IS something like it and i missed it, please tell me! ‘Cuz if there isn’t, i will, unfortunately, have to cancel my subscription.

Thanks for understanding.

Here’s their reply:

Hello:

Thank you for contacting eMusic Customer Support.

Thank you for taking the time out for the feedback, I will be sure to pass it onto our content and marketing departments for their information.

If you are using the most current version of turned, there is a feature that automatically adds artwork to your albums if the artwork is available online.

If you do not receive artwork with your downloads, you can import album artwork from our site into turned to ensure that the album artwork will appear when playing songs. Here are the steps:

1. Launch tunes. Make sure you’ve already added your tracks to your tunes library.

2. Make sure you are set to “Browse” mode by clicking the eye on the upper right hand corner.

3. Locate the album you’d like to add artwork to by first locating the artist in the Artist column and then locating the album title in the Album column.

4. Click once to highlight the album title.

5. Locate the appropriate artwork on the eMusic album page. With your left mouse button, select the image and *hold down* your mouse button.

6. Drag the image to the lower-left corner of turned labeled “Drag Album Artwork Here”. (If it says “Now Playing” then click the bar for it to display “Drag Album Artwork here.”)

7. When you see a “+” sign in the window, release your mouse button. The artwork you selected will appear in the window and will now appear for each track of the album you selected.

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

eMusic’s MP3s are nowVRR-encoded using the encoder LAME 3.96. Our MP3s are not restricted in any way.

OurVRR-encoding ranges from 32kbs to 320kbs, averaging around 192bpss. A portion (

Please see the following help section article for further information:

http://www.emusic.com/help/technical.html#q10

The ID3 tags we use are version 1.0 and version 2.3.

We do not currently include the release year in our tags but hopefully should be adding it soon.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance

Regards,

Carlos

eMusic Customer Support Team

What’s to say? First, it’s automated. They didn’t really bother to read my letter. They thought that i’m just another stupid American who can’t figure out how to download files. I wanted to give them an opportunity to use my weaknesses and take my money. They didn’t want it.

Furthermore, i’ve got a strong hunch that Carlos isn’t a real person. In the past i received replies from several customer service representatives named Carlos in different organizations. I doubt that it’s a coincidence. Might it be the default name for some CRM bot?

If you happen to be an entrepreneur, please go on and use me. I meant every word of that letter.

2 Responses to “A Letter to eMusic”


  1. 1 Alon 2007-03-23 at 22:37

    I dislike emusic.com
    I subscribed to them and got the free 50 MP3’s.

    I relate perfectly with what you described in your post – I really need to hold the real thing in my hands, smell the paper for the booklet and after 10 years take the CD off it’s rack, look at the time worn (but still in perfect condition!) case, and re minis about the first time I brought the CD home and listened intently.

    I unsubscribed after only a few days. But they kept billing me for about 6 months after that. My credit company investigated and refund all of my money.

    I was wondering if it was a freak accident at the billing department, or do they use the “matzliach” method…

  2. 2 Taylor 2007-03-24 at 09:44

    MP3s are not only intangible, but whether you’re aware of it or not, the quality is lower. There aren’t as many frequencies as in a regular CD (in which there aren’t as many frequencies as in a record). You may not be able to hear the difference between a proffesionally produced CD and an mp3, but you’re brain does, and generally, our brains will decide for us to mark the quality of the song overall slightly less because of it. That’s why audiophiles stil listen to records, why most sound engineers prefer analog mixing boards to digital ones (not for the frequencies but for the fader steps, but still, same category), and one reason to buy physical copies of music.


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