Pioneering digital music store eMusic has announced a return to its indie roots, telling members that it will no longer sell releases distributed by major labels Sony, Universal and Warner. The site, which launched in 1998 as an online outlet for independent music, but began selling product from the majors in 2009, will alter its focus as early as this week, according to an email to subscribers.
“Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, the leading download-to-own music retailer will be exiting the mainstream music business and exclusively offering independent music,” it said in a statement on Monday. “The company’s goal is to build the most extensive catalog of independent music in the world.”
According to the New York Times, that catalog will also exclude music by indie-label artists but distributed through major label services. Those parameters appear to be pretty strict — several releases that were on the site earlier Tuesday have since been purged. Gone is Taylor Swift‘s hit song “Shake It Off,” via Big Machine Records, and Spoon‘s new album They Want My Soul, released on Loma Vista. Ryan Adams‘ hot-selling self-titled album, via his PAX AM label and the Universal-run Blue Note, is also no longer available for purchase.
eMusic has struggled in recent years to compete with larger digital retailers including iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. Further, the rapid rise of streaming services like Spotify and Rdio, as well as radio giant Pandora, have also signaled the changing preferences of music fans in how they consume music.
In March 2013, eMusic merged with e-book distributor K-NFB Reading to form a new company called Media Arc Inc.