This is a brand new part of the Amazon website. I think it just opened within this past week, and from the looks of it, it is shaping up to be pretty sweet. Here’s the basic jist of it:
– Over 2,000,000 songs are available on the website
– The songs are all in 256kbps mp3 format
– The songs are all DRM free (!)
– Amazon mp3 is 100% compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media Player, so you are covered in whatever platform you use
– Songs are priced at either $0.89 or $0.99 (or so it appears for now). Albums range from $5.99 to $9.99
– Since the songs are mp3 format, they will play on any digital media player, including but not limited to the iPod, iPhone, Sansa, Creative Zen, RAZR, or even (dare I say it) Microsoft Zune.
Amazon offers an app called the Amazon mp3 Downloader to make getting the content really easy. Even better, as the Downloader downloads the music, it automatically ports the songs into iTunes or WMP. Not too shabby, Amazon!
I wanted to try out Amazon mp3, and so I picked up a few albums. One was the newest Feist album that I’ve been debating getting for the past few days. I’m listening to it right now, and I must say that it’s pretty good. That’s another story for another time. The other is Pink Floyd‘s The Wall. I’ve yet to listen, but, common, it’s Pink Floyd. It’ll be great.
So, you may ask why you should use Amazon when you have iTunes right there available and so easy to use. Well, let’s compare:
– Over 6,000,000 songs available
– Over 3,000,000,000 songs already sold
– Songs available at 128kbps AAC with DRM for $0.99
– Songs available at 256kbps AAC with no DRM for $1.29
– Most albums sell for $9.99
– Completely fluid compatibility with iPod and iPhone only
– Also available as iTunes WiFi for iPhone and iPod Touch for music-on-the-go
– 30 second previews of all songs
– Supports podcasts, movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and games
– Stand-alone app connects to the Web for content. No need for a browser.
– Over 2,000,000 songs available
– All songs available at 256kbps mp3 with no DRM for between $0.89 and $0.99
– Albums sell for as little as $5.99 and as much as $9.99
– Works with any digital music player on the Market
– 30 second previews of all songs
– Web interface
– Renoun Amazon “recommendation” algorithms fully integrated
Clearly iTunes has more “bells and whistles” to its name. But let’s not forget that iTunes is in version 7.0 while Amazon mp3 is in 1.0. iTunes is great and I will continue to use it. Plus, iTunes is the only really easy solution to get podcasts and tv shows and such onto the iPod. It has more musical selection and, with over 3Billion songs downloaded, has proven its reliability. Here’s the wrench in the iTunes utopia, though. As far as pricing goes, Amazon has them beat… by a lot. Many popular songs are at $0.89 while the others are $0.99. And all the songs are 256kbps DRM free. The iTunes 256Kbps DRM free music is priced at $1.29. True, iTunes offers their music in AAC format, which is superior to mp3 and so the iTunes music will sound better (to the trained ear), but AAC is an Apple proprietary format and is incompatible with other players. Mp3 is universal and open to all. And you’re saving as little as 30-cents and as much as 40-cents per song bought. The purchase of albums can even wield better results. Look at the iTunes and Amazon pages for Pink Floyd’s The Wall (click the images for full-sized versions):
Amazon mp3 is 1/2 the price of iTunes in this instance! This, coupled with the fact that the Amazon mp3 Downloader automatically sends the downloaded music to iTunes, makes the choice obvious that the way to go for this album is to use Amazon mp3. And this is why I bought Pink Floyd as one of my tests for the Amazon mp3 store. And the music has all the meta data in it. It has the cover art attached. It looks just like Apple music when viewed side by side in Cover Flow:
So, what does this mean? It means that I will be checking with Amazon before I make any music purchases. I can deal with a 256kbps mp3 as compared to a 256kbps AAC for all the money I am saving and for the ease of use it offers.
I did find it a wee bit hard to parse through Amazon’s database. I tried searching for a Bob Dylan album, but couldn’t quite get to a Dylan artist page to select the album I wanted to purchase. iTunes does have music searching down to a science, and their iTunes Essentials, Celebrity Playlists, iMixes, and other specialty playlists does make it fun to find new music. I bought about $10 of music the other day while just browsing those little playlists in iTunes.
The other good thing about Amazon jumping in the digital music distribution business is the fact that Apple finally has some real, solid competition. That can only mean good things for us, the consumers. Will we see some more competitive pricing? New innovation? Who knows, but it can only be good.
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