EMusic Wants to Ride Shotgun

Digital Music Retailer Partners With Avis for Free Downloads, Custom Road Mixes

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Since the first car radio in 1929 straight through the ghost-riding hyphy scene more recently, cars and music have been constant companions. Now, with a co-promotion deal with Avis, digital retailer eMusic is hoping to control the stereo on your next road trip.
EMusic's MP3s contain zero emissions.
EMusic's MP3s contain zero emissions.
Under the partnership, for every car rental between one and four days, Avis customers will receive download codes for five free songs, and rentals of more than five will earn 10. The company, part of the Avis Budget Group, previously partnered with Apple's iTunes Store but forewent that deal to work with eMusic, which provides DRM-free MP3s and a team of "eMusicologists," who are assembling semi-customized playlists for drivers.

"If someone was looking for the perfect music to listen to with their car windows down at 11pm on their way to Las Vegas, we could make that playlist," says Yancey Strickler, senior director editorial features at eMusic. "We have a team of editors who can speak with authority on pretty much every kind of music, no matter how specific the audience."

Strickler's team of editors has created brand-identity soundtracks for everyone from Urban Outfitters to Gold's Gym, and their new effort with the car rental company promises to be even more extensive. They began with some holiday collections and have since moved into genre-specific mixes for Avis customers. In the future, eMusic plans to offer destination-specific tunes to accompany customers in their drives.

According to Kip Morgan, eMusic's CMO, partnering with the brand was a chance to provide Avis customers with better value while hitting the No. 2 digital download site's core audience. "EMusic targets a specific customer that's under-served by iTunes and many other digital music services, adults that are interested in music outside of mainstream pop and rap."

EMusic's catalog trails the iTunes Store in scope, 4 million songs compared to 6 million, but the digital retailer has been working to differentiate itself with a strong editorial hand. Last week they launched eMusic Selects, a monthly program where the editorial team picks two artists they like and promotes them with unreleased tracks.

"We are about music discovery," says Strickler. "We want people to buy the songs they know and introduce them to new favorites."