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EMusic lets the Net in

July 22, 2008 |  3:47 pm

Today, eMusic, the largest online music store for independent artists, launched a months-long project of knocking down the walls between itself and the rest of the Internet.

The music retailer, based in New York, is revamping its website with the aim to be the one-stop for music lovers looking for information about their favorite indie bands. One way eMusic is doing this is by "scraping" the Internet for information relevant to albums, and bringing what it finds on to the album's eMusic page.

For example, the eMusic page for the album "Bright Like Neon Love" (pictured above), by the band Cut Copy, now has imported photos from Flickr, videos from YouTube and information from Wikipedia.

Another aspect to the revamp is ...

... that eMusic customers will be able to send an eMusic album page to their profile pages on social networks such as Facebook and Digg (and then friends will get a notice to see it). In August, eMusic will build comprehensive artist pages. In coming months, the retailer will launch a music recommendation engine based on users' preferences.

EMusic is a subscription-based download service, as opposed to Apple's iTunes entertainment store, where people buy albums and songs a la carte. At eMusic, customers choose between three subscription plans, the least expensive being $11.99 a month for 30 song downloads.

In January, eMusic reported it had 400,000 subscribers. EMusic does not have music from the four major labels but its fervent followers download close to 8 million songs a month. The company is making these changes after studying its customers' behavior, such as where they go to research music before choosing what they want to download, Chief Executive David Pakman said. "Music discovery is changing," he said.

EMusic hopes to satisfy the curious by giving them more information, which it hopes will translate to more music downloaded. And the more music a subscriber downloads, Pakman said, the more likely they are to stay with the service.

"If we don't stay relevant and people don't discover music with us, then they'll leave," Pakman said. "You can't stand still."

Susan Kevorkian, program director with research firm IDC, said the eMusic revamp was notable. "It's a way to give its users more flexibility," she said. The proof will be whether eMusic can increase its subscriber base and retain its current customers, she said.

-- Michelle Quinn

Photo: Cut Copy's "Bright Like Neon Love" page on eMusic. Credit: eMusic 

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