A few months ago I signed up for an emusic.com subscription. For about $10 a month, you get the right to download 40 MP3s a month that are yours to keep. At 25 cents a track, it’s a great deal as long as the site has enough music that interests you to keep your queue full. So far, so good.
The one catch is that the 40 downloads are “use them or lose them”. When your account rolls over, you lose any downloads that you didn’t consume. I’ve been good about using all of my downloads every month, so that hasn’t been a problem, but if you’re the kind of person who loses track of this sort of thing, emusic is a good way to spend money without getting any value in return.
The one thing I can’t comment on is the quality of the MP3s, beyond saying that they’re good enough for me. I suspect that audiophiles may differ.
If your music interests center on major label releases, emusic is probably not for you. If you like old stuff, obscure stuff, and indie releases, you’ll probably be pretty happy. I’m still working through the backlog of stuff that I know I want, so I haven’t done much exploring, but emusic has a lot of ways to find music that interests you if you don’t know what you want already. That said, I downloaded an album from Jon Langford’s list of 12 recommendations, and this month Ed Ward has a really good looking list of old country albums that interests me.
My mode of use for the site is to wait most of the month to see if there are any “instant gratification” tracks that appeal to me. If so, I download them. Toward the end of the month I go download some tracks that I have in my queue to use up my quota, then I start again the next month.
The problem I’m running into now is in assimilating new music into my collection. I generally buy Paste magazine, which adds 20 songs or so to my collection every other month, and now I’m downloading 40 tracks a month from emusic. Listening to the songs enough to decide how to rate them is work, and I worry about getting behind.