eMusic CEO disputes Amazon MP3 ‘number two’ report

USA Today on Wednesday reported that Amazon.com MP3 store “has quietly become No. 2 in digital sales since opening nearly six months ago.” That claim is disputed by David Pakman, the CEO of eMusic.com.

eMusic.com claims to be the second-largest digital music reseller behind the iTunes Store. While iTunes and Amazon.com both focus much of their catalog on commercial music, eMusic.com specializes in the sale of independently published music. The company’s catalog, comprising millions of songs, spans the gamut from classical to jazz, pop to rock, folk to punk, with everything in between.

Who’s really in second place,then?

“… let’s get one thing straight: outside of iTunes, no one sells more music digitally than eMusic, and we don’t plan on giving up that title anytime soon,” writes Pakman in a blog entry.

Pakman said that USA Today’s claim is based on reports from representatives of the four major music labels, and that USA Today “believed that [eMusic’s] subscription model was not relevant to the story they wanted to tell.”

eMusic works off a subscription model — for a flat rate each month, eMusic subscribers are able to download a set number of songs. The music eMusic.com sells are all in MP3 format, unrestricted with any form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. By comparison, Amazon.com uses an “a la carte” method similar to the iTunes Store, charging users for individual tracks or albums.

Amazon.com hasn’t made sales data available, but Pakman indicated that eMusic sells “more than 7,000,000 songs a month.” Since Amazon.com’s MP3 store opened in September, he said, eMusic has sold 40 million tracks. Since November of 2003, eMusic.com has sold almost 200 million.

“These are huge numbers, and firmly back our claims to be the #1 site for independent music and the #2 digital music service after iTunes. Those declarations have not previously been disputed,” wrote Pakman.

Pakman said that his defense of eMusic’s position isn’t intended as a slight to Amazon, who he calls “a pioneer in the world of ecommerce.”

“But in terms of digital music, we are still on top, and will continue to be so. If we ever decide to start selling blenders, we’ll be sure to give them a call,” said Pakman.

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