Amazon.com has announced that DRM-free MP3 music downloads from Sony BMG Music Entertainment will be available to customers on Amazon MP3, Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 digital music store, which is compatible with Macs, iPod, and iPhone. When Sony BMG is added later this month, Amazon MP3 will be the only retailer to offer customers DRM-free MP3s from all four major music labels, as well as over 33,000 independent labels.
“We are excited to offer Amazon MP3 customers DRM-free MP3s from Sony BMG, which represents many of the most popular musicians from the past and present,” said Bill Carr, Amazon.com Vice President for Digital Music, in the press release. “Our Amazon MP3 customers will be able to choose from a full selection of DRM-free music downloads from all four major labels and over 33,000 independents that they can play on virtually any music-capable device.”
“We are excited to be working with Amazon as they continue to build new markets for digital music,” commented Thomas Hesse, President, Global Digital Business & U.S. Sales, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, in the press release. “We are constantly exploring new ways of making our music available to consumers in the physical space, over the Internet and through mobile phones, and this initiative is the newest element of our ongoing campaign to bring our music to fans wherever they happen to be.”
Launched in September 2007, Amazon MP3 offers “Earth’s Biggest Selection” of a la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads, which now includes over 3.1 million songs from more than 270,000 artists. Every song and album in the Amazon MP3 music download store is available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software and is encoded at 256 Kbps. Amazon MP3 customers are free to organize their music using any music management application such as Apple’s iTunes and burn songs to CDs for personal use.
Most songs available on Amazon MP3 are priced from 89 cents to 99 cents, with more than 1 million of the over 3.1 million songs priced at 89 cents. The top 100 bestselling songs are 89 cents, unless marked otherwise. Most albums are priced from US$5.99 to $9.99. The top 100 bestselling albums are $8.99 or less, unless marked otherwise. Customers can purchase downloads using Amazon 1-Click shopping, and with the Amazon MP3 Downloader, seamlessly add their MP3s to their iTunes libraries.
Amazon MP3 is here.
We’ve used Amazon’s music download service and it works well for Macs, iPods, and iPhones. If you want to do some comparison shopping vs. Apple’s iTunes Store, Amazon MP3 is the place. We just wish Amazon would use the superior AAC instead of the ancient MP3 format* for their DRM-free music.
We do not believe that Steve Jobs really cares if you buy tunes at Amazon or iTunes, as long as you don’t buy something encoded with Microsoft DRM and as long as you play it on Apple hardware (Macs, iPods, iPhones, Apple TV). It’d be nice if you used iTunes Store, but it’s not at all essential to Apple’s success.
Now, how long can the music cartels get away with offering DRM-free music to the also-rans while blatantly excluding Apple? Are they demanding variable pricing (read: price hikes) and bundles (read: albums-only with assorted, mostly-unwanted “extras”) from Apple before deigning to remove their locks? Is it legal to exclude the dominant seller of online music simply because you desperately desire to “level the playing field?” Where is the collusion line and when will it be crossed, if it hasn’t been crossed already?
* AAC (Advanced Audio Coding codec or MPEG-4 Audio) provides higher-quality results with smaller file sizes and better decoding efficiency (requiring less processing power for decode) than the old MP3 format. More info here.