The world’s second-largest online song-downloading service, the much-beloved indie-music bastion eMusic, will now be available wirelessly to AT&T customers. In theory, this is a sweet deal: eMusic has 2.7 million songs of the sort that you feel you must hear just when the mood strikes, so getting the chance to call one up instantly on your phone could be a wonderful thing.
But there are downsides. First of all it’s pricey. The service will cost $7.49 for five songs, in addition to AT&T’s wireless data charges (meaning you’ve pretty much got to shell out for an unlimited data plan in addition). Compare this with the desktop eMusic price of $9.99 for 30 songs.
Moreover, the service isn’t available on all AT&T phones. Only some Samsung and Nokia handsets will be eligible for the plan; AT&T’s blockbuster music phone, Apple’s iPhone, will not run the eMusic service. (When you buy eMusic songs from your desktop, they’re sent as MP3 files — these are compatible with iTunes and every iPod, including the iPhone.)
So you pay more for — and can do less with — eMusic over AT&T than you can with eMusic over the Internet. Isn’t this yet one more argument for the FCC to free the wireless business from the tyranny of the telecoms?