Why buying classical music online at eMusic.com stinks

My title is a bit harsh?  Maybe.  But consider how eMusic.com prices their tracks (and for a bit of point-counterpoint I include classicsonline.com.


You pay a monthly fee and they have tiers which split based on the number of tracks you can download per month.  This actually works out pretty well, except for classical music where it can become downright crazy.  My tier, which actually is a special tier since eMusic just recently changed their pricing, is 40 tracks for $11.99. For the challenged that is less than $0.40 per track.  The problem is that in the case of classical music many pieces have tracks that are very short, on the order of 15 seconds short.  So I’m paying the same price for that 15 second track as for a 10 minute track.

The problem compounds itself when you are considering purchasing one of the many fine options, such as Handel’s Messiah, which is 54 tracks (depening on which version you download…I’m looking at one on the  Chandos label).  I can’t get that all in one month without buying a booster pack from eMusic.

It would be nice if eMusic would offer an option to buy a whole album vs. looking at everything as just tracks (in other words….follow the model that iTunes and Amazon.com do).   I purchased Handel’s Messiah on Amazon as an mp3 download for $13.  Their per-track pricing is much more expensive.  C’mon eMusic!  Give us the option to buy full albums even it is a seperate charge!


These guys price things really weird when talking per-track charges.  Tracks that are less than 5 minutes cost $0.99.  Tracks longer than 5 minutes cost $1.99. Tracks longer than 10 minutes cost $2.99.  Why would I want to buy from these guys again?  Yeah great selection.  Yeah its from Naxos but their definition of ‘affordable’ is interesting to say the least…at least on a per-track basis.

In their defense they do offer album downloads like Amazon and iTunes and it appears that the are using 320kbps these days for their downloads which is much better than when they launched.

In the end I wish eMusic were being smarter about what constitutes a track given how important it is without them offering album downloads at a discounted price.  Everything else aside it’s ridiculous that I have to pay the same thing for a 15 second track as a 10 minute one.

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