eMusic Connoisseur: Bigger Bundles, Deeper Discounts

Victory Records may be unenthusiastic about super-sized download offerings, but consumers are likely to embrace the new Connoisseur program unveiled by eMusic.

The concept, unveiled late last week, offers a trio of beefed-up plans for “even the most gluttonous music lover.”  The three plans are the Basic Connoisseur Plan, which offers 100 downloads a month for $24.99; the Plus Connoisseur Plan, which delivers 200 downloads a month for $49.99; and the Premium Connoisseur Plan, which includes 300 downloads a month for $74.99.  Each plan drives the cost of each download to just 25 cents, if the subscriber maximizes the number of downloads available per month.  The high-volume tiers add to existing Basic, Plus and Premium plans, which currently allow consumers to bolster their total buying levels with one-off “Booster Packs”.

But according to eMusic chief David Pakman, existing portions are simply unsatisfying to bigger buyers.  “Our customers have told us that the 90 downloads a month in our highest plan are just not enough,” said Pakman.  “They’re passionate about discovering music.”  That passionate consumer base has helped eMusic grab a distant number two ranking behind the iTunes Store, though critics like Universal eLabs president Larry Kenswil have pointed to a heavily-discounted product.  Others, most notably Nettwerk Music Group head Terry McBride, feel that a quarter-a-track could represent a pricing sweet spot.  Perhaps the sales numbers on Connoisseur will become the strongest arbiter, and help to shape pricing decisions going forward.  Most recently, eMusic pointed to download sales of over 100 million, a milestone that counts transactions over the past three years.  eMusic offers a catalog of over two million tracks, and all songs are offered in the MP3 format.