Online music service eMusic is famous for two main things. First, it spurns DRM: all the music available via eMusic is in an unencrypted MP3 format (192 Kbps VBR) which works on darn near any music player on the market, whether PlaysForSure, iPod, or powered by hampsters on little wire wheels. Second, by offering unencumbered music and a growing pool of 1.7 million independent and major label selections, eMusic has established itself as perhaps the leading alternative music service to Apple’s ubiquitous iTunes Music Store, commanding about 10 percent of the music download market.
Today, eMusic announced it is launching service in Europe, and in doing so becomes the first digital music download service available throughout all 25 member nations of the European Union, with tracks priced as low as €0.23 (17p in the U.K.).
“The monopoly of iTunes in Europe is over,” said David Pakman, eMusic president and CEO, in a statement. “European consumers, fed up with homogeneous music and services focused only on mainstream pop can now discover a wealth of music created to transcend rules, boundaries. and commercialism.”
eMusic’s subscription offerers in Europe will mirror the three-tiered plan in the U.S., with Basic, Plus, and Premium plans. The Basic Plan (£8.99/€12.99) covers 40 downloads a month; the Plus plan (£11.99/€16.99 offers 65 downloads a month, and the Premium (£14.99/€20.99 plan offers 90 downloads a month. Once downloaded, users effectively “own” the tracks: they can burn them to CDs, transfer them to laptops, portable players, and other computers, and make as many copies of the tracks as they like for personal use (although, of course, re-distribution is prohibited). Subscribers can keep their tracks even if they cancel their subscriptions.
eMusic has also announced a co-marketing arrangement with SanDisk, whereby European buyers of SanDisk’s Sansa m200, c200, and e200 portable music players get 50 free eMusic music downloads.