In a surprising turn, eMusic announced that it's ditching subscriptions for an á la carte pricing model. That means no more monthly fees or download caps to get your indie music on.

I'm a big fan of eMusic. Not only is it a great place to search lesser known artists, but its discovery feature is fabulous. You can hit up names and listen to snippets, and the page will show you others that might be up your alley. (This was how I learned about Adele and Mumford & Sons before they blew up on the charts.) In my experience, the suggestions were overwhelmingly good, as were the DRM-free downloads.

Unfortunately, I wound up leaving eMusic due to those pesky subscriptions. Users got a specified number of download credits per month, depending on the plan they chose. Due to time constraints, I never wound up spending all my credits, so it seemed like money wasted. But now, with individual pricing, I could see myself going back to the service.

It's not perfect, however, as the music will now go for "retail price." (Many titles were often much cheaper before.) Still, that's nothing unusual for music downloads these days, and the ability to buy a little or a lot could be a decent draw for potential customers, especially those who were on the fence about giving the service a try. According to the press release, the new pricing model is already underway.


eMusic Removes Subscription Requirement, Makes Online Store Accessible to Everyone

eMusic, a leading download-to-own music retailer, now allows all consumers — regardless of whether they pay a monthly membership fee — to purchase music from the online store. Beginning today, anyone can visit eMusic.com and purchase as many songs or albums as they want at retail price. The move makes eMusic more accessible to everyone, which is appealing to consumers and business partners alike, according to eMusic President & CEO Adam Klein.

"For nearly 14 years, eMusic has been devoted to music collectors who support artists and labels by purchasing their albums. That's why our base is comprised of culturally independent thinkers and music enthusiasts who are considered to be the tastemakers of the industry," Klein said. "Although our focus on this audience hasn't changed, our new business model is more inclusive and invites everyone to engage with what eMusic offers: insightful editorial that we curate independent of our sales division, and personalized discovery technology that draws upon the diverse tastes of our unique eMusic community."

Until now, eMusic has operated by subscription only. For a regular, pre-paid amount each month, eMusic members could — and still can — download and own music at discounted prices. Now eMusic will open its doors to everyone, allowing music consumers to access its industry-leading personalized discovery tools and features, and its catalogue of songs from every major label and nearly all of the independent labels.

"We hope the new business model will encourage an even broader audience to become buyers of music and, ultimately, music collectors," Klein said. "We also hope it makes eMusic easier than ever before for potential business partners to work with us."

eMusic's evolution signals its anticipated growth — and new opportunity — to current and prospective business partners.

"A number of major players have already taken interest in eMusic's new business model, which is making the brand more flexible and easier to partner with than ever before," Klein says. "We are in talks with potential partners in the OEM market, and also with wireless and cable operators, as well as big box retailers."