Amazon MP3 to expand DRM-Free Music Store, Thanks to Sony

Amazon.com plans to make DRM-free MP3 music downloads from Sony BMG Music Entertainment available to customers on Amazon MP3 later this month, making Amazon MP3 the only retailer to offer customers DRM-free MP3s from all four major music labels (in addition to over 33,000 independent labels). I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Finally, a real iTunes competitor". Amazon's DRM-free MP3 digital music store, where every song is playable on virtually any digital music-capable device, prices songs from 89 cents to 99 cents.

Launched in September 2007, Amazon MP3 offers Earth's Biggest Selection of à la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads, which now includes over 270,000 artists. Every song and album (usually priced between $5.99 and $9.99) in the Amazon MP3 music download store is available exclusively in the MP3 format without DRM software and is encoded at 256 Kbps. Anyone want to take bets on how long it will take Microsoft to offer the Amazon MP3 store directly from the Zune software?

"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. 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," said Bill Carr, Amazon.com Vice President for Digital Music.

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Good for them, but especially good for the consumers.

That being said, DRM or not, I haven't bought a CD or downloaded a music file (legally or otherwise) in any format in years. They can keep producing their crap, I still wouldn't want it even they offered it to me for free.

Move along, record labels, I'm not the customer you're looking for.

Amazon is now the only store I buy digital music from. All the tracks are DRM-free MP3 files encoded at 256kbps. The tracks include the ID tags and album artwork. Also they have great customer service -- I encountered a problem with one track on an album (sounded distorted). They refunded the purchase price of the whole album (even though I had already downloaded the whole unprotected album). Then they removed the album from the site, re-encoded the files, and put the album back.

This is a great step forward but I can't accept digital audio until it is lossless, contains artwork and production notes, and includes bonus material to replace the physical material (like including music videos). I just want a product that is equal to CDs. Really we should be offered higher quality than is available on CD, like 24-bit audio and surround sound, but that will take more time.

theyarecomingforyou said,
...but I can't accept digital audio until it is lossless, contains artwork and production notes, and includes bonus material to replace the physical material...

Good luck with that.

theyarecomingforyou said,
This is a great step forward but I can't accept digital audio until it is lossless, contains artwork and production notes, and includes bonus material to replace the physical material (like including music videos). I just want a product that is equal to CDs. Really we should be offered higher quality than is available on CD, like 24-bit audio and surround sound, but that will take more time.

exactly, if i'll ever buy music from internet its going to be a flac compressed album with a (minimum) 500x500 album art.

also why so few labels provide downloadable album art in high quality jpg ? you'll either have to trust some software to find covers automatically(even itunes have ones with choppy quality or washed out colours) or search them on google etc. (unless there are scanners that don't suck) *

I still think the labels are being idiots. Why do they continue to hold out from the iTunes Store when it's been proven to be the most successful store there is? Because Steve Jobs won't let them charge more for popular songs and less for unpopular songs? I don't see Blockbuster charging more for certain movies than others, just because they're new releases or really popular (or both). I don't see Wal-Mart charging an extra 30% on the most popular iPod, just because they can make more profit by doing it. Highway 407 in Ontario (turnpike) doesn't charge newer and more popular cars more money to drive on the roads. People like consistent pricing. Especially with media.

Highway 407 in Ontario (turnpike) doesn't charge newer and more popular cars more money to drive on the roads.

Bad analogy

See here's the problem. They don't care what people like. They care what they like. They likes theirs moneys. Apple is standing in their way.

The labels are finally starting to turn away from iTunes because they've learned a thing or two over the years... Apple takes a huge chunk of the profits on iTunes sales, and they aren't willing to compromise. When they labels first signed up, they took the hit in profit in order to get their music out there. Now, with stores like Amazon, the labels have learned that they do not need Apple to sell their music. And this Sony BMG announcement proves that.

thenewbf said,
I still think the labels are being idiots. Why do they continue to hold out from the iTunes Store when it's been proven to be the most successful store there is? Because Steve Jobs won't let them charge more for popular songs and less for unpopular songs? I don't see Blockbuster charging more for certain movies than others, just because they're new releases or really popular (or both). I don't see Wal-Mart charging an extra 30% on the most popular iPod, just because they can make more profit by doing it. Highway 407 in Ontario (turnpike) doesn't charge newer and more popular cars more money to drive on the roads. People like consistent pricing. Especially with media.


You assume this is a problem with the labels and not apple. If the labels wanted to charge more and that was really the issue they would be charging more. But amazon is selling everything from .89 and .99.
Which makes me think it's not a pricing issue but rather a problem with apple that's holding everything back. Maybe it's apple who wants to charge more.

And yes, new movies do sell for more than movies that have been out for awhile. It's always been that way.

Remember it was apple who originally charged $1.29 per DRM free track. They were never that high on amazon.

archer75 said,
You assume this is a problem with the labels and not apple...

I agree. While the labels are greedy, Apple is even greedier. They are hands down one of the most ego-centric companies out there. If you want to sell music on iTunes, you agree to their terms -- they aren't going to make you a special deal. It's rumored that Apple takes 70%.

I've seen some tracks on Amazon for 79 cents, though most are 89 or 99. The article says Amazon negotiates the sale price separately with each label.

HawkMan said,
why do they sell at 256 when the other stores sell DRM free mp3's at 320 ?

What stores are selling at 320? I don't think most people can tell the difference between 192kbps and a CD. 256 is plenty. 320 gets to be a waste of bandwidth.

Songs with DRM are often encoded at 128kbps.

HawkMan said,
why do they sell at 256 when the other stores sell DRM free mp3's at 320 ?

Like the other posts, I would like to know what stores sell DRM free MP3s at 320. Amazon is 256, as is eMusic and Puretracks. The stores selling DRM-protected music usually sell 128 or 192.

The only difference you will notice between 256kbps and 320kbps is the extra hard drive space the latter takes. =)

I've been waiting for this day for so long I'm still in shock at this press release. Somebody wake me up because the music labels have finally made the first great choice in a decade that is best for the consumer and also for the labels and artists.

SeaClearly said,
I've been waiting for this day for so long I'm still in shock at this press release. Somebody wake me up because the music labels have finally made the first great choice in a decade that is best for the consumer and also for the labels and artists.

Amazon has been working their ass off to get the major labels. They now have all of the major labels, and it shows in their selection. I don't know how many tracks are in their library, but it seems to grow by the hour!

Harbinger said,
At the rate things going I don't think anyone will sell DRM songs in a year from now.

It's inevitable. The record labels are finally realizing it's a losing battle to keep pushing DRM.

Although I have no sales figures to back this up, I suspect that all of the labels Amazon has signed up have seen a sudden surge in digital sales since Amazon opened the MP3 store.