Key Indie Labels Exit eMusic

Repertoire from Domino, Merge and the Beggars Group of labels will no longer be available on the eMusic subscription service Thursday.

The announcement was made via a statement published on eMusic's official message board and in an email to subscribers.

"We want to be up front with our loyal indie fans and provide advance notice that music from Domino, Merge and the Beggars Group family of labels will no longer be available on eMusic as of Nov. 18, 2010 pending further discussion," read the statement, which immediately drew a damning response from eMusic customers.

"This is pretty much a disaster," posted one user. Some users have also voiced opposition to price changes on eMusic. 

Universal Music Group has licensed its catalog to eMusic with 250,000 UMG tracks to be made available for U.S. subscribers later this week, according to the download subscription service. Sony Music and Warner Music are already licensed to eMusic.

Beggars Group, which encompasses labels like Matador, XL Recordings and 4AD, issued a statement which made clear the split from eMusic was over the arrival of majors on the service, and the subsequent changes in terms by eMusic for licensing with indies. The new pricing structure meant labels were offered new terms by eMusic.

The Beggars statement said: "As those of you who buy our music from eMusic will know by now, our music will very shortly no longer be available from that site. We wish this hadn't happened, but as eMusic has brought major labels on board, they have changed the terms on which they deal with labels in certain ways, some of which we have found impossible to accept, in our own interests, those of our artists, and ultimately those of their fans.

"We have loved eMusic, and the support it has given to our music, but it was the dedicated home for independent music and is, in our view, not that any more. You will continue to find our music on many other great sites and stores, we encourage you to visit them, or ask us where."

Beggars said it is coming off eMusic stores in the United Kingdom, Europe and Canada as well as the U.S.

A statement from Merge said: "We at Merge are longtime fans of eMusic; it has for years been one of the premiere places to discover new and independent music, and their editorial is among the best around. We are truly grateful for their coverage, and have enjoyed working with them for many years.

"Unfortunately, eMusic's unilateral changes in effort to bring on the major labels has created a situation where it would be harmful to the interests of Merge and our artists to continue our partnership at this time. We encourage those who regularly purchase Merge titles from eMusic to head to your local independent record store, the Merge Digital Store, or one of our other digital music partners."

"Please know we have done everything we could to keep them from leaving. Forging deals with our label partners can be pretty complex," continued the statement from eMusic, which added "we hope to see these labels back soon."

"For those of you wondering if this means eMusic is losing its focus, rest assured, we're still the place you go to find the records that hover under the radar, records that represent clear artistic vision -- and the records that we find inspiring on both major and indie labels, regardless of how many albums were sold," the statement went on to say.

Later, eMusic CEO Adam Klein addressed the situation on the company's blog, 17 Dots, writing: "We are treating all labels equally and therefore we believe fairly. We will greatly miss [the exiting labels'] artists and their music and trust that they will find their way back to our members soon.