eMusic Gets Zorn'd

2:10 PM -- Yesterday I mentioned that a few labels felt they were not seeing eMusic's purported success reflected in their bank accounts. According to rumblings on the site's message board, avant-garde klezmer jazz classical legend John Zorn's Tzadik Records is among those cutting their ties with the digital music store.

Tzadik and eMusic have a long-standing conflict, rooted in Tzadik's refusal to allow their tracks longer than 15 minutes to be downloaded. It's easy to see their point; the unit of a "song" is arbitrary and three minutes of music should cost less than 15.

This highlights how the shifts in the music industry and the way music is sold will actually affect the music itself. Will uniform costs cause fans to see longer songs as a better value? Or will short attention spans prevail? What will become of the often annoying, yet entirely essential, thirty-second rap skit?

Only time will tell.

— A.L. Friedman, Editor at Large, Light Reading

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:09:01 PM
re: eMusic Gets Zorn'd Zorn's move makes sense. He's taking a lot of flak for it, people saying he's losing incremental sales, etc. But it's consistent with the way he runs Tzadik, which is a not-for-profit label that reportedly pays musicians more than others.

Zorn knows from hard experience that most people refuse to listen to this kind of music. So he avoids doing normal promotion -- Tzadik doesn't service radio stations, for instance. It just doesn't move sales. Likewise, the pennies eMusic probably pays him aren't enough to support what he wants to do with the label.

Other folks feel differently. One of the top avant-garde sellers, and it's only been up there a month, is a 9-CD Anthony Braxton set: http://www.emusic.com/album/11...

As for the song lengths -- eMusic should probably let artists decide how many "tracks" a song is worth, so that a 60-minute piece could cost, say, the same as 4 or 5 normal downloads.
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