Written on: 01/03/2011
The main differentiator for eMusic compared to iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody and all the other large online music stores is that eMusic principally catalogues smaller and/or independent labels. It probably doesn't match the sheer volume/quantity of music available in iTunes - hence 4 stars for quantity. But then again, it doesn't focus on so much of the mainstream junk that's so readily available. Instead, eMusic is positioned specifically for people who are willing to put in a little effort to find rarer, high quality music. If you're tastes run to top 40, you're better off with another service.
Those who compared it to Colombia House on the basis of the trial either didn't read the terms of service or just didn't understand it. It's easy to find (i.e. it isn't nefariously hidden or obfuscated like some people contend), it's simple, and it's pretty standard. You start the trial, and then you cancel anytime. If you cancel within 30 days, it's free. If not, you'll start getting billed. Is this really a shocker to anyone??
eMusic is also different in the sense that you pay for a bundle of downloads per month.I pay $10 for 40 downloads/month, and occasionally buy booster packs for when I find an album I really want, or whenever I just happen to be in a shoppy kind of mood. They have packages for 65 and 90 downloads a month for $15 and $20 respectively. It's up to you to choose the package that fits you best, and more importantly, *it's up to you to use your downloads*. Unused downloads do not roll over to the next month. So again...those who complained they were billed but didn't download anything either didn't read or didn't understand the terms of service.
Finally, the last differentiator (and best one, imho) is the very well written reviews and analysis by staff and listeners alike. eMusic is not a top 40 community, so the suggestions and reviews tend to be very thoughtfully written. This is how I 'discovered' many, many new artists and tracks that I never heard of.
Bottom line: eMusic is the closest thing these days to going into your favourite specialty record shop and talking with the very well informed music heads who spend all day digging through crates of music to find the hidden gems.
As rated by real users
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