Several services, including those run byand , let people buy songs directly over the air. But they focus on songs by mainstream performers like Prince, who has a deal with Verizon. EMusic sells music only from independent labels, a category that these days includes the new album from Paul McCartney as well as obscure punk bands. The arrangement with will make those songs available just as easily as the more conventional ones.
Nearly all of the 2.7 million tracks eMusic has the rights to sell will be available through the service, which will work on several handsets by Samsung and Nokia.
"We know that we have a lot of customers in the segment that eMusic is trying to reach," said Mark Collins, vice president of consumer data services for AT&T's wireless unit.
Record labels have long believed thatwill encourage impulse purchases. EMusic will encourage consumers to browse, reading about bands and hearing snippets of songs to discover music they might like.
Tracks will cost more than they do over the Internet--$7.49 for five songs, as opposed to $9.99 for 30 at the online site--because ofto a user's phone. For that price, however, users can also get another copy of the song, which they can download from the Internet as an MP3.
, the private equity arm of JDS Capital, currently has a marketing deal with AT&T to encourage consumers to "sideload" their phones with MP3s from its existing Internet store--meaning that they can plug their phones into their computers to transfer the music. But this will be its first time selling music on a mobile network.
"We think there are customers that are ready for eMusic, but they haven't heard of it yet," said David Pakman, the company's president and chief executive. "We've focused on making this easy to use."
Few of the albums that eMusic carries are likely to sell as briskly asthe mobile-phone services have concentrated on selling so far. But its strategy has always been to sell comparatively fewer copies of the vast number of releases available on independent labels. For some of those labels, rarely seen in big-box retail stores, eMusic has become an important partner.
"EMusic isn't pushing top 40 on you when you get to the front page," said Allison Robertson, guitarist for the Donnas, a rock band with its own label, Purple Feather. "You find stuff that you can't find on the iTunes top 100."
This service could make some independent music even easier to find.
"For eight bucks a month, you can get exposed to music you can't hear elsewhere, so you might be more likely to experiment," said Mike McGuire, a vice president of research at Gartner Inc. "It could be an interesting way to discover music."
AT&T is also the service provider for Apple's iPhone, but eMusic's over-the-air service