Friday, October 23, 2009

For those who came in late

I've just been reminded by a correspondent that, eMusic having dumped its Asian customers some time ago, he wasn't aware that Nereffid's Guide was gone. So, let's take a trip down memory lane and rake over some old coals while I resurrect a couple of eMusic posts I made explaining what I was about.
The first is from June 3, not long after the first announcement that eMusic had sold its soul to the devil brought Sony onboard. It was titled "... And, in conclusion, f*** you":
Oh Christ, not another new thread about the Sony/new price fiasco?
Sorry. But by the time it happens here in Europe everyone will have stopped caring, so I have to get my full piece in now.

My situation, briefly, is that it costs me just 21.4 (euro) cents per track. When we in Europe lose our grandfathering, that cost will rise by 92 percent. So something's got to give. I'll have to substantially reduce my downloads per month. I'll go from 255 to (probably) 150.

Let me just read something by a Mr Stein, who I believe had something to do with the situation:
"eMusic's customers are rabid, smart and adventurous consumers of music."
Sorry, Danny. I may be rabid and smart but I'm no longer adventurous. Those 105 downloads I'm going to have to give up? They'll be the ones I devoted to broadening my horizons, like the early jazz collection I'd been building up, or the bizarre cover versions I've compiled to entertain the guests at Thanksgiving, or the various attempts at a classical listening club. The adventure ends; "purchasing" begins!

I say all this without malice. "All good things come to an end", etc. I've been getting a wonderful deal for 3 years, and I fully understand and accept why that deal has to end. I'm glad that, unlike US customers, I have time (unspecified) to get used to the change. I'm sure there'll be some good Sony stuff for me to download, and maybe the new prices will attract some of the better classical labels that are still holding out. But with the spirit of adventure gone, I won't be so excited about eMusic as I was before.

I like to occasionally buy a CD in Tower Records in Dublin. They're expensive, but hey, they're the only place in the country with a classical selection that doesn't insult my intelligence.
I also like to order CDs from MDT in Britain. They're cheap.

But I've never set up a web site highlighting all the cool stuff they've got. Because they're just, you know, shops. Which is what eMusic will be for me once the prices go up.

So, sorry, everyone who cares:
When Geocities shuts down later this year, I won't be looking for a new home for Nereffid's Guide.

The grandfather deal cuts 2 ways: Nereffid's Guide was my way of saying "thanks" for the low prices. No low prices? No need to be grateful.
Just as well I got my spake in there, because a month later I was gone from the boards. This one is called "I'm done", and I'm presenting pretty much the whole thread here, with a little editing to keep only the pertinent responses (eg, Tim Mason made a couple of comments that he subsequently deleted):

I've just deleted all my lists, and everything on my Nereffid's Guide site.

And it felt good.

It had to be done. These last few weeks on the boards have been a rollercoaster of rage and inanity, with only the occasional sparkle of wit and intelligence. Too many posters and comments have exasparated me lately, and I want to get away from that feeling. I want to be one of the 99% of eMusic users who don't care enough to get involved. And to do that I've felt the need to sever all ties. Now I'm just a shopper. It feels quite liberating, actually.

Apologies to those of you who will be disappointed by my actions. And thanks to everyone who's entertained me over the past three years.

Drama queen.

I completely understand. I've been angry enough to delete stuff from other sites.


good work at every step. excellent decision + great to hear the "feeling good" end of it all.



I found those lists very useful, and I'm sorry they're gone, but a Nereffid's gotta do what a Nereffid's gotta do.

And after more careful reading...

You mean you deleted all that great classical music content because... just because?

Like I said before, if it makes you happy, all the best. It made for great reading and you made me more of a classical music fan so thanks for that.

Nereffid, thank you for the permission to save the Guide for my personal use. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to save all the lists I wanted. You have been my #1 classical guide at eMusic, and I shall truly miss that. I understand your need to escape the vitriol that has flooded the boards recently.

Please don't leave us isolated out here on the rollercoaster. I do hope you care enough to answer future questions about classical music.

Your actions do seem a bit petty but to each his own.

"Apologies to those of you who will be disappointed by my actions."
I generally forget rather than forgive, but I always end up forgetting. Thanks for the temporary but high quality resource.


I always enjoyed your input on the board and I'll miss that. Sure wish you'd change your mind.

Sorry Nereffid, seems melodramatic to me, I've lost a bit of respect...

Porieux (responding to SoNotASonata):
It's ok for eMusic to do what they want to do but if a customer does what they want then they deserve scorn? Sorry but that is not reasonable. eMusic actually has a responsibility to provide services....we are all paying customers and owe nothing.

If you don't like the way things are playing out, take it up with eMusic, they precipitated this mess. Not everyone just rolls over and takes whatever treatment is dished out to them...something to think about.

Wesley (responding to Porieux):
Please. I can't believe you of all people actually said "It's ok for eMusic to do what they want to do". Emusic has received almost nothing but scorn on these boards for the price increase and the way they communicated. Some of that has been from me. I'm not giving a free pass to a user for something I feel is childish and petty because somehow I believe Emusic deserved it. All his actions have done is hurt Classical music fans. He was such a great resource and he can do what he wants with his works but it's all too Ayn Rand for me.

I am truly sorry you feel this way, Nereffid. As someone that you helped turn on to classical music, this loss will be greatly felt by me. I admire and appreciate the hard work that you have done.

But, I cannot admire nor appreciate you leaving this way. What is most disappointing is that you are not angry at eMu, you are disappointed in us. I think people have expressed justifiable rage and disappointment over the way that eMu has mishandled this entire move.

I feel like your actions are a direct result of what I, or others like me, have said on these message boards. But we are only being honest about our feelings. Rightly or wrongly, we feel betrayed by eMu. It was a special community to us, and it may be gone forever. Some of it went too far, but that's what happens when emotions run high.

If you need to get away from this a little bit to clear your mind and wait for the anger to die down, fine. But, pulling your lists because you are disappointed in the level of discourse seems like you are punishing us like petulant children. Take your toys and go home if you must. I hope it felt good for you. For many of us, it's just salt on our wounds.

Well, I totally understand and support your decision, Nereffid. In my own experience it was great to get a little distance from emusic and develop new shopping and internet-time-wasting habits. Tying your music-listening and discussing activities so intimately with one site really doesn't make sense.

Katrina (responding to Wesley):
All his actions have done is hurt Classical music fans.

Well, no, one of the reasons I liked this site when I first signed up was all the good recs from other subscribers.
So it -does- hurt emusic if a wonderful reviewer pulls reviews.

Retaliation is not always childish and petty.

I'm really sorry you did that. Discontinue them and leave them to rot, yeah, but actively deleting them...

However, they were your lists. It was really up to you what to do with them. Thanks for all the good music you helped me find. Now I'm more in the dark again. If it was worth it to you, well. OK.

From the CEO,

Dear Mr Nereffid,

In view of your sterling services to Emusic over many years, and your superhuman efforts in helping Emusic subscribers and publicizing our organization, thereby enormously adding to its prestige, we have decided to grant you free life membership with unlimited downloads.

Yours sincerely,


If there were justice in this world!

kargatron (responding to Katrina):
> Well, no, one of the reasons I liked this site when I first signed up was all the good recs from other subscribers. So it -does- hurt emusic if a wonderful reviewer pulls reviews.

It hurts emusic in a tiny, statistical way, the same way that reducing one's carbon emissions helps prevent catastrophic global warming - i.e. practically not at all.

Nereffid's site helped emusic's subscribers much more than it did emusic. But I think it's greatest utility was towards the classical labels (and artists down the line) who received downloads they wouldn't have without the guide. In fact, although I'm sure some users were classical fans that would have spent their downloads within the genre anyway, others were more dabblers like me, where the guide actually diverted downloads to classical from other genres.

So removing the site causes "harm" (technically, reducing aid) inversely - first to classical labels, then to users, then least to emusic. Not that any of them had a right to the help, and I can't easily estimate the counterbalancing utility to Nereffid's emotional state, but obviously emusic is least affected among involved parties.


Many of us will be sorry to see you go. I can understand in a moment of irritation and disillusionment, deleting all of your material, but that act does nothing to eliminate the kind of rhetoric you seem to be protesting.

Sure, there are lots of things on these boards that one may find irritating, but go to almost any online forum (on any of various subjects like politics, sports, films, relationships, etc.) and you will find those same kinds of things. I don't know. Maybe an online Quaker fellowship site would be different but there can't be many of those.

In a way, I think these past few weeks have been healthy. We're now seeing more diversity of opinions expressed on these boards and the collectivism of thought and expression seems to have been loosened. Heck, even the posters with the sole message of "E Music sucks" seem to be getting a less hostile reception.

From your message I wasn't sure if you were leaving E Music completely or just these boards. If the site still has something of value for you, I would recommend staying as a member but taking a break from these boards (such things are possible. I did it for the month of May.). During my first four years as a member, I had never come to this forum, so my only concern with the site was whether or not I found offerings of sufficient quality in any given month.


I can appreciate your Atlas Shrugged gesture. I've sometimes been tempted to take down my own lists. So far I've resisted that temptation, perhaps because I think of my own lists as being of benefit more for individual users than for the emusic corporation.

Music Lover:
I think 68 said it perfectly:

good work at every step. excellent decision + great to hear the "feeling good" end of it all.

Porieux (responding to Wesley):
No, if you think these actions hurt Classical music fans, your statement (and viewpoint) should be "eMusic's actions have hurt Classical music fans" since they are the ones to blame here.

I will restate my point I guess. It's not reasonable to expect users who are paying to use this service to continue to give help for which they receive no benefit or consideration to a site which treats them with disrespect. If you have a problem with it, take it up with eMusic, since they precipitated the problem. Don't make snarky comments about users who have been selfless and have only done things to be helpful with no gain for themselves at all. What eMusic has done here is called SQUANDERING GOODWILL and blaming the users for it is just ridiculous. If the user (Nereffid in this case) has EVER done anything to help anyone here then all they deserve is thanks and not an expectation that they owe somebody something and had better continue or else they should be insulted and viewed with contempt and insults.

There is nothing to disagree with me on here, this is simple fact. Anyone who disagrees is just being selfish and childish, frankly.

Wanderer (responding to Porieux):
Well, OK, but if you read Nereffid's post he appears to be disgusted with E Music members (or at least a subset of them) not the service itself.

kargatron (responding to Porieux):
Porieux, there are no consensually accepted definitions of "simple fact" that characterize your statements here... :)

Joey Jo Jo (responding to Wanderer):
"Heck, even the posters with the sole message of "E Music sucks" seem to be getting a less hostile reception."

Because no one is defending eMusic in these threads. I used to.

tlmucla (responding to Porieux):
Sorry, Porieux, but for once I agree with Wanderer. Neriffid did not take this action because he was disgusted with eMu. If that were the case, he would have canceled his membership after deleting his lists. He took this action because he was disgusted with the victims of eMu's action - the people who were understandably angry and posted their anger on these boards.

No one disagrees with you that eMu has squandered the goodwill of its loyal customer base. But, that's not why Neriffid took this action. He took this action because "These last few weeks on the boards have been a rollercoaster of rage and inanity, with only the occasional sparkle of wit and intelligence. Too many posters and comments have exasparated me lately, and I want to get away from that feeling."

And disagreeing with Neriffid's actions based on this motivation is neither selfish nor childish.

Ultimately, the guy can do whatever the hell he wants. Who are you douchebags to go on for a dozen posts about whether you respect it or not. No wonder he's disenchanted.

YOU: Yeah, well you're reading it, asshole. That makes you a loser, too.

ME: Touché

Televiper (responding to a deleted TimMason comment):
"If I remember rightly, he said in an earlier thread that he was thinking of pulling his lists in disgust at what eMusic had done. In that light,he is more likely to have been disgusted by those who defended eMusic, rather than by those who were angry about it."

Seems weird that he would have pulled his lists for such a small minority.

Neriffid himself said: "I agree with this elephant analogy. Quite a few posters seem to be speaking from an authority they don't have. There are rather a lot of posts along the lines of eMusic should do X or if eMusic doesn't do X, then Y will happen. As if the poster actually knows."

[Nereffid interjects: I can't find the original thread in which the "elephant analogy" appeared - it was to do with the old adage about the blind men examining the elephant, and how this is relevant to any discussion about eMusic's supposed subscriber base]

tlmucla (responding to bklynd):
Who are we douchebags to reply to a thread that Neriffid started to broadcast his decision? It seems to me that he expected response.


I really wanted to stay away from this, but seeing as you've moved on to the calling-each-other-douchebags stage of the conversation I realise I should give a clearer explanation of my thoughts/feelings.

First of all, this was a complicated decision that wasn't taken lightly. The Sony debacle catalysed something that had begun several months ago. Let me take you through the process.

- I hope no one is shocked to learn that Nereffid's Guide took quite a bit of my time. I did it because it helped me choose great music to download and because it filled a gap in eMusic's editorial coverage that I felt needed to be filled. It was important to me that eMusic's classical section be promoted, especially to those subscribers who were just starting to explore such music.
- But it took too much time, and also it inspired insane thoughts like "Hey, I could get a subscription to Diapason magazine - sure, reading it would prove a struggle because my French isn't good enough, but they have a rating system so the reviews would still be useful". These were thoughts prompted by a desire to make Nereffid's Guide better for other people, not for me.
- In February I put usual business on hold and started work on my Handel Guide. Something of a niche idea, I knew, but I hoped it might inspire some interest and enthusiasm. (I was always in awe of Music Lover's promotion of that Sharon Bezaly album a few years back). Instead it proved a damp squib. Aside from any wounded pride, this at last got me thinking clearly about the time I was spending working on a site that, even at its most popular, was of interest to only a very small number of people.
- So at this stage I wasn't sure whether I should continue with the site anyway. Then came Yahoo's announcement that Geocities was to be shut down. I looked around for a new host but my heart wasn't in it.
- And then came the Sony announcement. My first reaction on reading that we wouldn't be getting Sony over here was to consider that any future Nereffid's Guide would be Sony-free and therefore less useful for US users. That was probably the final nail in an already well-sealed coffin.

So that's why there is no more Nereffid's Guide.

And why take away all the material I'd already created?

For a start, it's not about punishing eMusic.
Remember that I'm not affected (yet) by the recent changes. I'm still grandfathered, I'm not going to see any Sony, and album pricing won't be coming in here either. So my situation in terms of my subscriptions is completely the same, and I'll remain a happy customer.
But what the Sony situation means is that eMusic has broken the unwritten "social contract" it had cultivated with its community. I was initially angry about that but I'm not now. I don't feel the need to punish eMusic. I simply, and cold-heartedly, believe that eMusic is no longer entitled to any work I have produced for it, whether that work adds value or not. I used to regard the terms "eMusic" and "eMusic community" as interchangeable. But they're not.

What about the community? Am I punishing you?
I wasn't clear enough in my initial post. It's not that any one poster, or any one side of the argument, has exasparated me. There seems to me to be a general tone of rancor about the place. Nothing offensive or outrageous, just a general tone that gets on my nerves. Tempers are still a little frayed. I've lost count of how many times I've started to post something and then thought "no, someone's going to misunderstand that", or "no, that's just making things worse". Over time I'm sure it will die away, but this passion that inspires people (in the past, to leap to eMusic's defense; at present, to leap for its jugular) - it's gone for me, as a result of all the things I've talked about.

Chas - you got the hint. If anyone wants to know what was the final straw, read the post from gerrrgity just above what appears on 68's "sparklespeak" link*. It was when I read that post that I finally thought "ah, fuck it, I just don't care any more".

I'm not punishing anyone, I'm not protesting over anything. I'm not disgusted (really? where did that one come from?), or angry, or offended, or upset. If anything, I'm tired.

Like I said at the start, I didn't take lightly the decision to pull all my lists. I know people value them. But my connection to eMusic and the eMusic community is through the lists. If I want to sever my emotional involvement, then I have to take the lists away, otherwise there's always going to be something pulling me back in. I hope everyone understands that: ultimately this is a personal decision, not about anyone else.
As I said above, part of what was troubling me about the effort I was putting in to Nereffid's Guide was that I was developing a sense of obligation to the people using it. But there is no obligation. eMusic isn't entitled to those lists and - yeah, this is cold - neither are you. Everything I've done was free and voluntary. I accepted your thanks when you thanked me, and now I accept and understand your disappointment. But I don't accept any anger or any sense that I have "hurt" anyone.
Voluntary, free work = Help.
Absence of voluntary, free work = Absence of Help. Not = Hurt.
That just really pissed me off, that some people seem to think I'm obliged to them. If anything, a few of the comments here have helped remove lingering doubts I might have had.

btw, Ayn Rand? I've never read her books, so I had to resort to Wikipedia to understand the comments. Ha! I will say that The Fountainhead is (unintentionally) one of the funniest films ever made.
But will it be as entertaining as Nereffbeard's Castle?

And with that: Goodbye.

Well, best wishes, Nereffid. I agree the amount of rancor has gotten way beyond tiresome. Whatever my future relationship with eMusic will be, it will be about my relationship with music, and whether eMusic serves that in any positive way, not a referendum on them, their business practices, Sony, or anything else. The relationship with music is what brought me here and is really the only thing that matters. If I can do any good in the sharing of excitement about music that is fine, just as I would share with anyone else in passing.

Porieux (responding to Nereffid):
Well stated, once again far more eloquently than I could. Cheers Nereffid, and thanks again for your contributions.


I am one of the "silent majority" who have enjoyed your Guides and postings on this message board very much. As someone not very knowledgeable about classical music, your input has been very helpful to me. I apologize for not speaking up before now to say "thanks" for all of the time and hard work you put into your lists and Nereffid's Guide. I really wish I had said something before now, but hopefully you will check the board from time to time, and will see this.

I wish you all the best, and hope that after some time away that you will return to the message board in at least a limited way.
SecretDrummer, you have got your wish! Were you there to see it, though?

* 68stationwagon's "sparklespeak" link: I left this out here to avoid complicating the issue. It was in a thread begun by amclark2 asking eMusic (specifically the rep CathyHN) to answer specific questions posed by posters. I was one of those who posed a question, but that one didn't get answered. Which prompted the following:

Hi Cathy,

My question was Can we see a genuine commitment from eMusic to fully engage with its customers, specifically on these boards?

You answered everyone's question except that one.

I guess that means No, huh?

I think you're asking a rhetorical question, where you've already determined what the outcome should be, and you're simply trying to direct Cathy to respond in like.

Not that I'm defending Cathy or eMusic - I'm myself leaving after August - but I just think that it's not sincere to ask a rhetorical question to make a point.

hi nereffid.

i read tea leaves, omissions, stars and ouija boards. i dropped cathy's omission into my tea, sat underneath the stars and aimed my ouija board towards orion last nite. waited. stars went first. here's what they said:

composers are like stars in the night sky. you may call them some name. but are they really that name?

next up was my ouija board:

dear music lover: solti lies in rest alongside bartok. who would you like to hang alongside in the afterworld?

a. haydn
b. beethoven
c. mahler
d. no one - just a nice copy of spoch's beard tucked under my arm

finally, i looked into my teacup and there was cathy's omission mixed in with my tea leaves:

emusic customers are like stars in the sky, just because one or two sparkles brightly from where i now stand doesn't mean all the others sparkle with less intensity.


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