I signed up for e-music in April 2005 and according to my profile history, I have downloaded tracks from a grand total of 1,185 artists but today I decided to cancel my account.

In the six and a half years I have been a member the download and online streaming options have changed radically. For example, in 2005, there was no Spotify (launched in 2008), no Soundcloud (2007) and no Bandcamp (2008). Also, it was not so easy to find tracks and albums on blogs and I was not so genned up on P2P sites like e-mule or Soulseek.

I am grateful to e-music for helping me to discover artists like Jack Rose, Charalambides and Acid Mothers Temple but I have decided to leave what I regard as a sinking ship.

In my view, e-music have failed to move with the times and have missed an golden opportunity to profit from niche marketing. Instead of aiming to compete with other legal download sites like i-tunes or Amazon they should have worked to maintain its links with independent labels to build on its appeal to older listeners with more eclectic tastes.

Instead it struck deals with major labels like Warner and Universal while, almost simultaneously, big name Indie labels like Merge, Drag City and Matador withdrew their catalogues.

There is still a lot of good music in all genres to be discovered at e-music but I have been increasingly frustrated at the slipshod way e-music treats its customers.

The final straw for me came with a complete redesign of the site on November 17th. An e-music moderator posted a message on the discussion forum to explain that “the design change was made with one thought in mind: enhancing your music discovery”.

There was no warning that the major site overhaul was in the pipeline and the flood of angry responses to the redesign shows that it has fundamentally failed to enhance anyone’s experience of using the site or finding new music.

Most people will accept change if it improves the online experience – this is proven by the way WordPress continually updates its service in an intelligent and transparent manner.

In contrast, the new e-music has chosen to make changes that make a dramatic visual impact but makes the site more difficult for the end user. It is full of flashy (and often slow loading) graphics while features that regular users have taken for granted are either lost or hard to find.

The basic principle of a site like this is that it should make it easy to search, save and spend. You ought to be able to find what you are looking for quickly; to save items you are interested in and buy individual tracks or whole albums without any hassle. To use the new site I had to get an updated download manager but there was nothing on the site that told me this was necessary (I only discovered this after a frustating trial and error session).

When I came to cancel my subscription I had to make four attempts before I could  even access my account. When I hit the ‘cancel’ button I got an automatic message: “We hate to see you go. Stay with us and we’ll add one free month to your plan”. I hesitated for fully two seconds before confirming the cancellation.

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