After some tweaking, I'm back on eMusic. From first-hand experience, I can confidently say to Linux users everywhere that the eMusic tar.gz patch is crap. Months ago – the salad days, when eMusic was offering 50 free downloads to new members – I screwed up every last free download figuring out how (not) to use it. So do not waste your time with it, go here instead and install this Java-based application. (But really: if you're a Linux user and you've come here for my expertise ... well, that's pretty sad.)
I still have extreme reservations about installing third-party software, so let's call this a “trial marriage”. All the same, eMusic's selection is keeping me on their side of the threshold. To name just a few examples of artists whose CDs are typically a costly affair (at least for Canuckle-heads like myself): Townes Van Zandt, Josh Ritter, Steve Forbert, The Drive-By Truckers, Joe Henry, Peter Case, Stacey Earle, Pierce Pettis, Kate Campbell, John Hiatt, The Be Good Tanyas, The Waiffs, Neko Case, (Stacey's lesser-known older brother) Steve Earle, The Legendary Shack-Shakers, Reverend Horton Heat, The Cramps, Moxy Fruvous .... (get me a paper bag, I'm hyperventilating!)
There's also some early Medeski, Martin & Wood (including this incredible song, from Friday Afternoon In The Universe) and a heap of jazz to be had (though I have to admit, I'm still a hold-out for the CD when it comes to jazz or classical – MP3 sound compression does not serve these genres well. I should also mention, eMusic's "Metal" selection leaves a lot to be desired (but perhaps that's just because metalheads are used to getting their music for free)).
Finally, they stock two artists whose work I promote out of a sense of mission: my man, Jason Ringenberg (whom I've written about here and here; it'd sure be nice to see the entire Scorchers' back catalogue made available, but that's beyond his control so I'm not holding my breath), and Mark Heard, whose Mosaics I somehow missed the first time around (more on that later, I suspect, considering my earlier recollection, here).
In the meantime, perhaps my brother has some thoughts re: Linux and the MP3 market?