If your taste runs beyond the usual mainstream fare found at most music download sites, eMusic (*Est. $12 and up per month) bears some consideration. Reviewers say it's an excellent choice if you're into indie music, not major labels and top-40 artists. EMusic's catalog of 13 million tracks or so consists mainly of indie groups and emerging artists, along with a healthy dose of classical music. In addition, some major artists' recordings on smaller labels at the beginning or end of their careers can also be found, and eMusic also carries Sony's back catalog of songs greater than two years old.
Like AmazonMP3 (*Est. $0.69 to $1.29 per track), eMusic offers music in a 256-kbps bitrate, DRM-free, MP3 format, which can be played on virtually any PC (Mac, Windows or Linux computers) or MP3 player -- including iPods and Zunes. EMusic uses a unique subscription-to-own program: Songs are not available on a per-track basis. Instead, users purchase a number of downloads per month (24, 35 or 50) at a fixed cost (*Est. $12 to $21), resulting in a low per-track cost (*Est. 40 cents to 50 cents) with no usage restrictions. Apart from the basic plan, all others come with a bonus of between $1 and $4. Unused credits don't roll over at the end of your subscription period. On the other hand, if you cancel your subscription, you won't lose your purchased music. EMusic also offers an audiobook subscription service, in which you receive one or two audiobook credits each month for a fixed rate (*Est. $10 to $20).
We found the most thorough review of eMusic at PCMag.com. About.com has a fairly short write-up, but it is well balanced and covers all the basics. In their review of music download services, the editors of TopTenReviews.com position eMusic in fourth place, behind iTunes, AmazonMP3 and Napster (which has since been absorbed by Rhapsody). The owner-written reviews at ReviewCentre.com are worth a look as well.
Coming in at fourth place in TopTenReviews.com's review of music download services, eMusic is recommended for those who like music outside the mainstream. The review, however, is very brief and the specifications page is taken directly from eMusic.
Review: eMusic, Editors of TopTenReviews.com
Mark Harris, site guide for About.com's digital music mini-site, calls eMusic "an excellent music service that fills a niche in the market and gives subscribers the maximum flexibility on how they can enjoy their music." There's a helpful overview here, touching on features, content, software and plans. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: eMusic review: An Indie Music Download Store, Mark Harris
PCMag.com has a detailed review of eMusic. Jamie Lendino is not a fan of eMusic's pricing plan, which has changed a bit since his review, though the site still requires a subscription. All music downloaded from eMusic remains with the user even after the subscription expires or is cancelled.
Review: eMusic (Winter 2009), Jamie Lendino, Feb. 12, 2009
This user review site, based in the U.K., is somewhat cumbersome to navigate. Most of the posts are quite short. There are only a handful of eMusic reviews, most of which are negative. Problems cited include limited music choices, technical issues with the website and a dated interface.
Review: eMusic Reviews, Contributors to ReviewCentre.com