eMusic Inks Deal with Warner Music Group

Toni Braxton

Online music service eMusic and Warner Music Group have announced an agreement that will see eMusic start selling tracks from WMG artists. The deal is eMusic’s second with a major label—it signed a distribution agreement with Sony Music last year—and will include artists from Warner labels like Atlantic and Rhino, as well as independents distributed through Warner’s ADA project.

“Our editors look forward to contextualizing WMG’s catalogue with the unique eMusic sensibility our members have come to expect,” said eMusic president and CEO Danny Stein, in a statement. “We’re excited to work with Warner Music Group’s labels, and by focusing on their hidden gems as well as classic albums, help them increase sales across their entire catalog.”

eMusic made a name for itself by insisting on selling tracks in DRM-free MP3 format while the rest of the industry was busy shooting itself in the foot by insisting digital music only be sold with DRM protection. As a result, eMusic had a tough time signing artists from major labels and focussed instead on music from independent labels, world music, and other specialized areas. The result isn’t the largest catalog of tracks on the planet, but the quality and diversity of eMusic’s offerings was unmatched my major online music stores.

eMusic hasn’t announced any changes to its price structure, but the company did rankle fans in 2009 when it signed its deal with Sony: the arrangement lets eMusic offer catalog tracks that are over two years old, but eMusic simultaneously raised its subscription prices.

Industry watchers have eMusic looking to set up a streaming music service for subscribers sometime in 2010.

[Image: Tony Braxton, WMG publicity shot.]