eMusic merges with e-book distributor, loses CEO

As interest grows in the online music subscription sector, one pioneer appears to be throwing in the towel.

eMusic quietly announced a merger yesterday with K-NFB Reading, an e-book distributor founded by noted inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil. Adam Klein, the company's chief executive for the past three years, has also left the company, The Wall Street Journal reports.

"I am very pleased with the significant repositioning of the company and its future direction," Klein said in an e-mail to the Journal confirming the exit.

The newly merged company will "create a consumer-centric interface that makes … Read more

DOJ: Toss the cartoonist's appeal out of e-book case

Bob Kohn, the founder of eMusic and apparently an amateur cartoonist, has had his laughs but he has no standing in an antitrust case involving five top publishers and Apple, the U.S. Department of Justice argued this week.

Kohn is trying to stop the settlement agreement between the DOJ and three of the five publishers accused earlier this year of conspiring with Apple to raise e-book prices. A U.S. District Court denied Kohn's motion to intervene in the case, and he filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

On Tuesday, … Read more

eMusic adding majors, real prices

Today, online music retailer eMusic announced a deal with Universal Music Group that will bring 250,000 new songs to its catalog starting in November. Along with the expanded catalog, the retailer will begin displaying song and album prices in dollar values, instead of the obscure credits system that has been in place for years.

These changes are part of a larger effort by eMusic to bring the service and its music catalog in line with the big guns of Apple and Amazon. After appointing a new CEO in August (Adam Klein), the company has been working to swiftly add … Read more

Antigua distances itself from download site

Another reminder about music sites that sound too good to be true arrived in my in-box Friday.

Earlier this month, I blogged about Zookz, a new site currently in beta testing that allows users to download an unlimited number of MP3 audio files or MP4 video files for a single monthly fee ($9.95 for audio or video only; $17.95 for both). This seems to be an amazing deal compared with similar services--eMusic, for instance, offers a limited number of downloads for a monthly fee, and all-you-can-eat subscription services like the Zune Marketplace disable some portion of your … Read more

Zookz: Unlimited downloads, one price

Hear that popping sound? It's the sound of executives in the music and movie industries taking an extra dose of heart medicine. Wednesday, a new site called Zookz began public beta-testing a service that will let users download an unlimited number of MP3 music files for a single monthly fee of $9.95. Users can also download an unlimited number of MP4 movies for the same price, or both music and movies for $17.95 per month. Those are unprotected, DRM-free downloads that can be transferred to any device or shared an unlimited number of times.

Of course there … Read more

eMusic raises prices as it signs Sony deal

Music subscription service eMusic has always puzzled me. While it was the first site to offer DRM-free downloads, I never downloaded enough music to justify paying even the lowest subscription rate. The fact that it makes you navigate a long sign-up screen and enter a credit card number before showing you the song selection and other features of the site--even if you just want a free trial--drives me nuts. But despite my skepticism, the site has some big fans among voracious consumers of indie music.

Judging from the angry comments on the site's message board, some of those … Read more

Sony's 'classic' catalog comes to eMusic

Subscription music site eMusic has inked a deal with Sony Music to bring selections from the label's catalog--"classic" recordings that are at least two years past their release date--to the online retailer starting in a few months.

eMusic hasn't had the biggest footprint in the digital music retail space of late, falling well behind iTunes--and some say that Amazon MP3 has grown bigger as well. eMusic was one of the first players in the space to offer music free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions, which a few years ago more or less meant that … Read more

Archos 10-inch Netbook

Archos, a popular maker of Portable Media Players and Mobile Internet Devices, is joining the Netbook fray by releasing one of its own.

Earlier this week, the company announced the availability of its new 10-inch Netbook on its online store. The Netbook was originally slated for release in April, but because it was announced at CES in January, I guess the company felt ready for prime time. Finally, Archos is said to be working on several new versions based on Intel's Moorestown platform, which will replace Intel's current Netbook and MID platform sometime in 2010.

For now, let'… Read more

eMusic redesign still doesn't fix the main problem

eMusic users awoke Friday to a redesign of the subscription-based download site, which specializes in music from independent artists. The main feature is a recommendation engine provided by MediaUnbound, which uses a combination of computer algorithms and real live music fans to duplicate the services of that one friend of yours who always seems to know about the new bands first. MediaUnbound CEO Michael Papish had this funny exchange with TechCrunch in which he explained why his company's technology is better than Pandora and other recommendation engines, although the TechCrunch reviewer remained unconvinced.

It sounds intriguing, and I'm … Read more

eMusic CEO leaves for venture capital firm

David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, is leaving the online music service at the end of the year, he said in an interview with CNET News on Monday.

Pakman said he is departing after five years at eMusic to become a partner at a venture capital firm. He declined to specify which firm.

An important part of Pakman's legacy at eMusic is that the company continues to exist. How many CEOs of digital music stores have been around for five years or longer? I can think of only one: Apple's Steve Jobs.

Pakman has watched stores from MTV, Microsoft, … Read more