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Digital Audio Insider is David Harrell's blog about the economics of music and other digital content. I write from the perspective of a musican who has self-released four albums with the indie rock band the Layaways.

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September 02, 2009

Post-Sony Chart Watching at eMusic
by David Harrell
eMusic banner

Back in July -- approximately two weeks after the addition of Sony back-catalog material to the eMusic catalog -- I observed that with exception of Michael Jackson, the major-label content wasn't rocketing up the eMusic charts. At that point, however, because of the rolling refresh periods for eMusic subscribers, some of them might not have had a chance to download any of the Sony material.

As of yesterday, it's been nine weeks since the introduction of the Sony material, meaning that all monthly subscribers have the opportunity to use at least two months of their downloads on the Sony catalog. But the current top-download charts remain as smaller-label (and indie rock) focused as ever. The only Sony release showing up in the "top 15" charts for the day, past week, and past month is this Kenny Chesney collection.

The top download charts at eMusic have always been dominated by recent releases, so perhaps it's not surprising that older Sony material isn't being snatched up. And, as I noted in the previous post, absent something like the death of MJ, it's unlikely that everyone will gravitate toward the same Sony releases. That is, if individual subscribers are downloading a wide range of Sony material, specific releases aren't likely to rise the top of the charts. So it's possible that a ton of Sony material has been downloaded, but the downloads have been spread across the catalog.

Yet when offered certain classic indie releases for the first time, eMusic subscribers will push them to the top of the download charts, something they've failed to do with non-Michael Jackson Sony material. Husker Du's SST catalog was added on 8/24/09 and currently accounts for 4 of the top 15 spots in the weekly download chart. While the Husker Du releases are offered as "album-only" downloads, the fact that some of them are relative bargains -- it will cost you just 12 downloads for the 23-track Zen Arcade -- no doubt adds to their appeal. Still, the contrast with the Sony catalog is striking.

Of course, the reason eMusic added the Sony material to its catalog was to increase its appeal to future subscribers, not the current subscriber base that was content with the all-indie lineup. So the real question is, will potential subscribers be lured by a Sony catalog that costs -- as a result of the new subscription plans and the "12-download album pricing" for many releases -- $5.00 to $6.00 an album? That's a healthy discount from the $9.99 default iTunes album price, but I'm not sure if it's enough to entice fans of older Sony material to start an ongoing subscription.

related: Chart Watching at eMusic, Album Pricing at eMusic, More Thoughts on the Changes at eMusic, Sony and eMusic: Why the Per-Track Label Payout Might Not Change

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    THE LAYAWAYS

    Out Now -- "Maybe Next Year" -- The New Holiday Album:

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/maybe-next-year">Joy To The World by The Layaways</a>

    "This is a sweet treat, deliciously musical without being overbaked for mass media consumption." -- Hyperbolium

    "Perfect listening to accompany whatever holiday preparations you may be making today." -- Bag of Songs


    O Christmas Tree - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    Away In A Manger - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or Bandcamp. Listen to free streams at Last.fm.



    album cover art from The Space Between

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/the-space-between">Keep It To Yourself by The Layaways</a>

    "...about as melodic and hooky as indie pop can get." -- Absolute Powerpop

    "Their laid-back, '60s era sounds are absolutely delightening." -- 3hive

    "...melodic, garage-influenced shoegaze." -- RCRD LBL

    Where The Conversation Ends - free mp3
    January - free mp3
    Keep It To Yourself - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, iTunes, Amazon MP3, or CD Baby, stream it at Last.fm or Napster.



    album cover art from We've Been Lost

    <a href="http://thelayaways.bandcamp.com/album/weve-been-lost">Silence by The Layaways</a>

    "The Layaways make fine indie pop. Hushed vocals interweave with understated buzzing guitars. The whole LP is a revelation from the start." -- Lost Music

    "Catchy Guided by Voices-like rockers who lay it on sweetly and sincerely, just like Lionel Richie." -- WRUV Radio

    Silence - free mp3 lyrics and song details
    The Long Night - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at Last.fm, Napster, or Rhapsody.



    album cover art from More Than Happy

    "These are songs that you want to take home with you, curl up with, hold them close -- and pray that they are still with you when you wake up." -- The Big Takeover

    Let Me In - free mp3
    Ocean Blue - free mp3

    Download from eMusic, Amazon MP3, or iTunes, stream it at Last.fm, Napster, or Rhapsody.

    More Layaways downloads:

    download the Layaways at eMusic download the Layaways at iTunes

    the layaways website