Interview with Adam Klein in Music Week

edited July 2011 in General
Music Week have published a two part interview with Adam Klein, CEO emusic - see and Apologies in advance if anyone has already put this up here

Edit - I tried out these links and could no longer access them as I need to subscribe to read more. You might be able to access, like I did initially, through a Google search.


  • edited July 2011
    ...they are obsessed with music and 93% of them say they are always looking for new music. They don't have a huge amount of respect for the playlists of their buddies or things of that nature. They are much too knowledgeable and much too thoughtful.
    Look, Adam, if you knew the kind of shit my buddies spin you'd feel the same.
  • edited July 2011
    Yes as I read that I thought the same. It is the recommendations here that I take notice of, as I know there are similar minded people here. What he didn't say that would have interested me is how the introduction of the majors to the UK market will impact the pricing structure. I suspect that it will be similar to what you have already
  • The links seemed to work OK for me - most interesting aspect for me is the prospect of members being able to sample entire songs or albums, at least once. The cloud is not a big deal for me at present since I do not do the majority of actual listening at the computer, and very little that way at work.
  • How do your users engage with social media?

    “Of course they turn to elements of social media to learn - but only form a community they respect. They are obsessed with finding new music and if they can find a useful way to do that they will go there.

    I like the tenor of his responses - but can he follow-through? And does the rest of the organization follow what he is saying?
    The enhanced sampling is a great idea - it would definitely help me (I've downloaded Spotify and have done some streaming of tunes that I'm thinking of purchasing - I've been surprised at some of the depth of its catalog).
  • I had wondered why I wasn't seeing anything in the way of a new member push. Was that decision "flexible" or "wishy-washy"...!? Obviously deserves some credit for trying to find out who his customers are.

    Interesting on "renting music." That's accurate for me, anyway. Interesting about Adele...Now if he could only get Taylor Swift back!

    Um, I think if you raise prices, your ARPU is pretty much going to go up...even if your user numbers decline. "We are stable and have not grown, but that is by design." Ahem.

    He also lacks credibility on the re-DL thing. They could do it if they wanted to, just don't want to.

    The commitment to an indie orientation sounds great, yet they apparently don't offer indie labels the same deal as the majors. I think we can all agree the recent editorial changes have been positive.
  • Doofy - Exactly my thoughts on the ARPU thing. He also remains insistent on the 30%-50% cheaper thing, which for the most part just isn't true.

    That said, his comments make clear that at minimum their customer research has taught him how to sell to the traditional member base. At this point it's just talk though. Until they actually get Beggars, Merge, and Domino back it's pretty disingenuous to continue to try to position themselves as the online local record store.

  • Also, his chortling about the "fire Adam Klein" thing is kind of pathetic, if you recall the way he hid under the bed while throwing Cathy to the wolves. If he wanted to be accountable and put all this stuff out there, he had every opportunity to do so at the time.
  • But I do find it interesting that we have had a Merge release on emusic in the UK a couple of days ago - see Is this an early attempt to try out the 'new market'?
  • I continue to be baffled by complaints about amazon deals. They're nowhere close to having a monopoly, and if they ever did start monopoly pricing, some kid would start a competitor with his phone from his parents' garage in about 15 minutes. Amazon and emu just have different ways of offering discounts - emu does it across the board and amazon does it on selected items. Dangerous pricing? Pfft.
  • edited July 2011
    I agree amclark. I don't know about the States, but we regulalry get 'loss leaders' to get us through the door at supermarkets, where we are bound to buy something else. I am sure that is how Amazon view their deals - we get used to using Amazon and buy other things as well. It must work, or they wouldn't do it. Parallel with supermarket pricing, the label probably takes part of the cut, just to get their artist out there to sell a few more with costs being covered by regular price deals later. I see nothing wrong with that kind of approach
  • The argument Klein is following is that selling a popular album like Lady Gaga for less than a dollar devalues the price of music in the minds of consumers who don't realize it's a loss leader. The biggest (of many) problems with this argument is that much of the costs associated with releasing an album are no longer necessary, but each level (label, distributor, retailer, and everything in between) refuses to streamline to the internet age and actually make music at what is now a reasonable cost.

  • I rarely DL anything from Amazon that isn't a Deal, on sale, or just plain cheap but they do very well by me because it's the first place I'll be ordering a CD from if it's not much more than the MP3 release I'm researching.
  • I still get my basic eMu monthly downloads, usually classical. But on other albums I want, if it is $6.49 at eMu and $6.99 at Amazon, I will go with Amazon for the better sound quality (IMO) and the cloud. I have been using the cloud for all my purchases since it arrived. Hard drives are full and I haven't had a chance to get rid of what I really don't like -- or get more storage space.
  • edited July 2011
    Hmm... Having read through that interview, I'd call it about 95 percent bullsh*t, spin, and deception. ("ARPU"?) The other 5 percent includes things like "people don't read first and listen second; they listen first and read second" and "If all you are searching for is top 40 music... the likelihood of you becoming a member is around zero." But even the second of those two statements contains the words "we know from historical data" in the middle, and we know from historical observation that these folks wouldn't be able to interpret user behavior from data if their lives depended on it. (Which they probably do, to some extent.)

    I guess the positive aspect of this is that he still cares enough to try to spin things to the media - some CEOs in his position would just clam up completely. But if he's saying that their customer attrition is minimal even after what they did in 2010, I guess for now we have to take his word for it, and assume that most eMu subscribers just don't care all that much about how they're treated by e-Commerce operations. I would have thought otherwise, but then again, you generally don't win in the marketplace by betting on consumers (or people in general) to behave logically.

    I like how he saves the biggest whopper of all for last:
    ...the price is no longer this 'Monopoly money' of credits - they can really see what the value of the tracks are. People are attracted to that and are buying more music - hence the ARPU increase.
    Uh, sorry Adam, people are not "attracted" to that in the slightest, and they're not "buying more music," they're just paying more because you jacked up the prices.
  • I think there's a possible germ of truth, in that eMusic truly does have the lowest prices on most albums* ...even if it is more Monopoly money now than it ever was. Must admit to recently buying a booster so that I could finish off a box set for markedly less than available anywhere else.

    *Not counting Amazon "deals," which are generally pop/indie faves. Also ignoring the fact the difference on top/new releases is often so low as to be neglible.
  • I may be spending more but it's because 1. they raised the goddamn prices, duh! and 2. because I'm really trying to pick up the stuff I really want, to be able to get the hell out of Dodge before the situation worsens - this includes not letting any fetching bargains lie fallow so that I can kick myself next year that I didn't get them this year - no more SFL blues (although I did just manage to find a couple of old items cheaper at 7dig, to help ease the pain). Whether this denotes the kind of customer profile a supposedly growing business would want is doubtful to me. If only I'd bought every crack card I could have laid my hands on instead of just most.......
  • Adam does seem to neglect to mention all the long time users that have left in the last year or so.

    BDB, I'm with you on buying the CD if it's the same price or sometimes even cheaper than the MP3 version, which sometimes happens for pre-orders or new releases on Amazon.
  • Neato. Now someone explain to me why Kindle books are about as expensive as print books. What's up with that?
  • Doofy, because the IP and its marketing have always dominated costs, or at least, do so recently? Do you find that implausible enough to be notably skeptical? (I do not.)
  • I thought I recognized that photo...!

    As for Kindle books, I thought the authors had a big role in price-determination (or fixing, if you prefer) for those? I recall reading on this very site of how some authors were actually making considerably more money by charging less, essentially taking advantage of the fact that most people don't really understand the "digital marketplace" by simply undercutting everybody else. Unfortunately that could easily result in a race-to-the-bottom situation, if taken even close to the extreme. (Which is probably what will happen...)
  • edited July 2011
    All of this goes along with why my Nook is loaded with collections by long dead authors that were free, or a couple of bucks - the Complete Charles Dickens, for instance (where would I keep it?). I'll be damned if I'll pay near the same price for something I can't strum the pages. It's kind of like the Master Classics label for books.
  • I actually read a lot of 'classic' books, and am English major enough to care significantly about the edition I'm reading. Thus those public domain editions have little appeal to me. I loves me some introductory essays and footnotes! Indeed I would prob buy Norton Critical Editions if they were available on Kindle.

    I also have trouble spending $15 on something intangible as a digital book, but that may be running into my love for physical books. Once ebook prices drop below a 'bargain' level--say the price point we see on Amazon deals--I predict my resistance will drop. For books as for music, I see no reason for not making the price friendly to move as many copies as possible for backlist titles.
  • Yes, crappy or dubious editing seems to be a danger of bargain digital books - can't really complain much about the free ones however. It has given me the opportunity to revisit some dubious pleasures of my youth, Edgar Rice Burrough's Mars series and Tarzan, the Conan stories of Robert E. Howard, without much investment and no space taken up, so that's working for me.

    To revisit a theme from above I just found this Staple Singers release Freedom Highway at Amazon in CD form for $6.42 - that's seven cents cheaper than the eMu MP3 version. Of course I had to buy something else to get free shipping but that's what the Wish List is for.
  • edited July 2011
    You do have to be careful with those free or cheap editions, especially for older stuff. There's an edition of the Janua Linguarum Reserata by Comenius on Kindle for I think a dollar that was apparently scanned in from a multi-column edition and not proofread, so the entire thing is gibberish at the word level and also in terms of text organization since the original had parallel columns of text and these have been read across the page... I was quite excited when I saw there was an electronic edition until I discovered it was completely unusable.
  • On a writer's forum that I (sometimes) participate on, there are looooooong discussions about the above.

    As far as the cheapies, yes, there are spammers who basically do nothing but compile sections of books copied from various site, presumable based on a title word search, slap them all together, sell it for a dollar, and collect the money even if it's not a complete book. Amazon has been trying to compensate for it, but those dollar kindle bins are totally buyer beware.
  • I've been reading lots of freebies and have no complaints. Free is probably better than cheap as far as editing goes because it's a whole different set of motivations. As for notes and extras I never bother with 'em - guess it's good I was an art major.
  • Not an interview, and not Music Week.

    Business Wire: eMusic President & CEO, Adam Klein, Joins midem Innovation Factory Program

    Of note -- links to studies at bottom of article.
  • purchasing ‘music to own’ remains the primary way to acquire music online
    53% of all consumers who purchase music online buy digital music files to own

    If this were a sports game, I would call that a slim lead rather than the "primary way".
  • From mommio's link:
    Adam joins the session “Tips from Successful Digital Entrepreneurs to Help You Grow Your Business” on Saturday 28th January, from 16:45 to 17:45, as part of the Innovation Factory at midem. Adam, along with other senior entrepreneurs, will give startups hands-on, crucial tips to help them take their technology company to the next level. Participants will be able to ask questions and get practical advice on the business issues that matter most to them.

    "...Hep You Grow Your Business". Grow? Hasn't eMu's membership numbers been essentially stagnant for the last 4 years or so?

    "...take their technology company to the next level". Next level? I guess they don't specify if that 'next level' is up or down. In relation to eMu's apparent lack of grasp on technology maybe they're talking about different levels of Hell.

    I gotta wonder about Mr. Klein's presence on the panel. Seems to me like he should be taking a seat in the audience instead and start asking a ton of questions and taking copious notes.
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