Emusic has been dropping their service down for awhile. Initially they were a subscription service where for about $15 per month, you could download an unlimited number of songs, and you could use them as long as your subscription was valid. It was a great setup for the customers and for the artists. It helped unknown artists find an audience, and helped customers find indie bands that they didn’t know about. In general, the idea is that it was for trying them out and that you would ultimately buy a CD. I bought a number of discs based on downloads on Emusic. They also had a setup where various third parties had made download managers for their service.

Then they decided to limit the number of downloads. 50 downloads for $10 per month. That was reasonable, but it also meant that it wasn’t as much of a place to try new artists as it was a place to buy music. Then it dropped to 40 downloads per month. Then the price went up to $12 per month. That was OK though, it was still an OK deal, and they let you download the songs more than once if you wanted or if you lost your copy, even though the third party download managers had stopped working and you were stuck using their lousy download manager. Shortly thereafter, it dropped to 30 downloads per month. If you ever changed your plan, you got even less, 24 downloads for $12 per month. And now they limit you to about 3 downloads, and because of their lousy download manager, it always expends 1 of those without actually downloading anything! It still seems like an OK deal at around $0.50 per song, except that if you don’t use your downloads you lose them, so if you miss a month, that next month is more expensive than iTunes.

A few years back they also had a fairly nice policy for inviting friends over. You invite them over, you get 50 downloads, they get 50 downloads, everyone is happy. You could keep your 50 downloads for as long as you want. I just received an email from them…

      Invite five friends to try eMusic and you’ll get 10 free downloads* as our thanks. We’ll also give each of your friends 50 free downloads to check out eMusic** 
    * Get 10 Free credits when you invite 5 of your friends through the eMusic referral page linked in this email by November 15, 2009. Your credits will be awarded 7-10 days after you have completed the form, whether or not your friends decide to sign up for eMusic. Visit eMusic by December 1st to claim your credits. Your 10 free credits will be good for 30 days from the date you claim them. You must enter valid email addresses. This offer is only redeemable once per customer.

10 downloads… For inviting 5 friends… That’s 1/25th of what their old deal was. Not only that, but the 10 songs expire! I still have 10 credits from my last 50 pack a year ago. Not only that, but 10 downloads that are of unlimited time cost $6 to buy. That’s about $1.20 per friend you push into the service. I wonder how much that is in pieces of silver. Given that silver is around $15 an ounce, I would suspect it’s far fewer than 30.