eMusic: Now it’s universal

eMusic The big news this week is undoubtedly Apple’s announcement of the new iPod product line and the lower price of the iPhone. With new iPods comes a new version of iTunes — 7.4 in this case — but despite The Steve’s Thoughts On Music and NBC’s very public departure from the iTunes Store, iTunes purchases are still heavily bolted to the floor with DRM. Even iTunes Plus purchases are watermarked, if not rights-managed.

Fortunately, there’s eMusic, the next largest online music retailer behind the iTunes Store. All songs at eMusic are available in pure MP3 format, encoded with the LAME variable bitrate (VBR) encoder, completely unrestricted by DRM. If your musical tastes are like mine, you’ll find eMusic to be indie music heaven. Many artists available there are unsigned or self-promoted through IODA, the Independent Online Distribution Alliance, but eMusic’s catalog of popular names is formidable as well, including the only DRM-free online version of Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full.

Until recently, though, the eMusic Download Manager has been available only as a PowerPC application, and ran a bit sluggishly under Rosetta on Intel-based Macs. But that has all changed. Meet the brand spankin’ new eMusic Remote 1.0 — available for Windows, Mac (PPC, Intel, and Universal), and Linux.

The new eMusic Remote is built atop the Gecko engine from Mozilla and integrates a browser window with the download manager, allowing eMusic customers to browse, preview, and download all from the same application without having to open a new window or tab in Safari, Firefox, Camino, or other browser.

So for all you readers who are already eMusic subscribers, go download the Technology Preview of the eMusic Remote; I’d like to hear your thoughts on it! Do you like the integrated experience, or would you rather have a slim application that just does the download? Is it just me, or does it actually run faster?

If you’re not an eMusic member, you can get 25 free downloads when you sign up at the website, or if email me at tab (at) paXoo -dot- com, I’ll send you a link to double that for 50 free downloads when you sign up.