On the eMusic message boards I just saw a post from rednano74 about Amazon offering 50 albums for $5. Silly me, I thought this meant for $5 I could buy 50 albums, or $0.10 an album. This of course was just a fever dream; Amazon is simply continuing its standard practice of discounting selected MP3 albums from $9.99 to $5 or less.
It’s interesting though: I looked through these 50 albums and didn’t see anything that was attractive to me at a $5 price point. This seems to be my general experience with Amazon’s discounted albums. (I subscribe to the @AmazonMP3 Twitter feed, so I see pretty much everything that appears.) When offered an essentially random collection of discounted albums, a $5, $3, or even $2 price is typically not sufficient to motivate me to purchase something I’m not already seeking out; only at the $0.99 per album level do I tend to make an impulse purchase from Amazon.
This is somewhat at variance with my eMusic experience, where I download lots of complete albums that fall into the $2-4 range. I think this is due to a number of factors: First, and probably most important, eMusic’s download-based system hides the true prices to some extent; I just know that I have X downloads and I need to use them for something. This is also related to the issue of mental accounting costs (aka mental transaction costs): I’ve already paid my money for eMusic, so (unlike Amazon) decisions about what to download don’t invoke the paralysis by analysis of deciding whether a particular album is worth spending money on.
Second, I know that everything on eMusic is already discounted, so I can just explore the catalog on my own and not have to wait for discount offers to come to me. Finally, I think with 17 dots, the message boards, etc., eMusic is doing a better job of explaining exactly why I should download something; as I noted, Amazon is just spraying discount offers at me at random with no context or justification. This ties in with my previous argument that a good strategy for eMusic would be to pursue a role as a thought leader and trusted advisor for its customers.