The Emusic Blues

Until earlier this month I was a short-time subscriber to emusic.com. Extremely short-time. Nine days to be precise. For those of you who don’t know emusic.com – it’s an online music store where you can (legally!) buy music in MP3 format on a monthly subscription basis. Emusic.com specialises in independent labels. It offers a total of 4.5 million tracks for download with a fairly good selection of Jazz music, which was the reason I subscribed. So, I get DRM-free MP3 tracks at roughly 25 cents per track. Sounds perfect. What went wrong? Well, on the ninth day I looked at the emusic.com site and it said: “We’re sorry but eMusic is not currently available in your area.” Bummer. I was neither able to log into my account anymore, nor could I download any music. I contacted the their customer service to ask what had happened. No response. I contacted them again. No response. Only after threatening to initiate a chargeback procedure with my credit card company did I get a reply. It repeated the message, namely that eMusic wasn’t available anymore in my country. It also promised a refund. Oh well. – As for the reason why eMusic suddenly unplugged Thailand (and possibly other countries as well) I can only guess. It must have to do something with contracts, record labels, and anti-piracy policies. Clearly, the music industry is shooting into its own foot by taking such steps. Now emusic.com has become one of several online music stores that is not available in Thailand. Another one is Amazon, which also offers MP3 music. Consumers in Thailand and other countries are thus left with two options. Either buy music in DRM-crippled format for the same price as a physical CD, or turn to other more doubtful sources. You can probably guess what most people would do in this situation. Since I am a hobby musician, I would very much prefer to pay artists for their work. However, given the current situation in Thailand it has almost become impossible to acquire music legally in MP3 format.