The 200 millionth download at eMusic has provided an opportunity to take a stab at how many active subscribers the service now has. I did it the not so subtle way by plotting the cumulative downloads against days since eMusic went subscription only. The company conveniently provided three real data points and one implicit point in an arrangement that suggested some kind of power law was at work in the cumulative count.
For one, it implies that the growth of eMusic in the last couple of years has been pretty linear and got a bit of push sometime during 2006. Wasn't that roughly when AllofMP3 got its marching orders?
Using the graph it looks as though eMusic has surpassed six million downloads a month. The company claims 7 million a month now, which is kind of borne out by the fainter trend line in the graph. However, based on the figures provided, the launch of Amazon MP3 last September didn't seem to do a lot to download growth and it may even have tailed off a little. In either case, it's tough to square the downloads with the last known subscriber count of 350 000, released towards the end of November. It implies that the average user downloads way less than even the minimum subscription.
Simply dividing the 30 downloads of a basic subscription into the six million downloads I estimate were made in the last month only gives you 200 000 subscribers. The subscriber numbers seem somewhat inflated based on this, but eMusic said at the time these were paid subscriber numbers so it seems unlikely that there is some kind of Second World effect coming in here. It seems, therefore, that a lot of people do not come close to downloading their full allocation of files every month.
I tend to make sure I use up almost all of my allocation - and I'm on the 65-download subscription - as download credits don't roll over. So, there must be quite a few people who come nowhere near their quota. That's a nice little earner for eMusic as it means royalties that the company does not have to pay out, or it means that users who eke every last credit out of their quote every month are getting music cheaper than they might if, for example, eMusic started rolling over credits each month.
Either way, it remains my favourite paid-music download site.