Thursday, November 08, 2007

Dragged off: Drag City quits eMusic

eMusic's pricing policy has cost it more catalogue: Rian Murphy, sales manager at Drag City, has pulled his label's material off the site, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer claims $7 an album is too lean a price for even an indie to stomach:

The service provides plans that can whittle the price of a song down to 27 cents — appetizing to consumers but nauseating for artists.

For artists, of course, read 'labels'.
"Keep your eye on the bottom line, and if it doesn't make sense, don't do it," Murphy said. "Things become known eventually. You don't really have to force them down people's throats."

Murphy says it's up to independent labels to resist slashing their own prices just to fit someone else's corporate business model. Drag City albums sell for $9.99 on iTunes and $8.99 on Amazon, though Murphy says Amazon is swallowing the difference.

"There are too many people out there who don't value their own exposure, who want (their music) to get to the maximum number of people and they don't care what they have to do," Murphy said. "This is the reason, as far as I'm concerned, that the industry is in trouble."

We suspect that the P-I's $7 figure might be an assumption on the paper's part rather than Murphy's figure - after all, if you can do a physical album for £4.50 at a profit on Amazon, it's hard to believe that a digital version at £3.50 would be a loss-leader, whereas about £1.50 an album could be seen to be pushing it.

Murphy, though, is only half right - you do need to value yourself fairly, but equally, you need to get your music out to be heard for it to have any value at all. Leaving eMusic is a gamble that's only going to pay off if his market moves over to iTunes - it's more likely that they're going to shift to another label's stuff on the same site.