Quietly a couple weeks ago Amazon launched its own music download store, the aptly title Amazon MP3 store. This is noteworthy compared to the other online music stores that still get crushed by iTunes is that Amazon MP3 is the first online store that offers DRM-free songs from major record labels. For you non computer geeks out there DRM (Digital Rights Media) is what keeps you from putting songs you download from iTunes on other MP3 players, tells you how many computers you can put the song or how many times you can burn a song to CD. So songs downloaded from Amazon MP3 are free for you to do whatever you want with them like the ones you downloaded from Napster years ago. Granted this also means they have significantly less number of songs than any other music store. Here is what Amazon says about its new store:
Amazon MP3 offers Earth's biggest selection of a la carte, DRM-free MP3 music downloads. With over 2 million songs from more than 180,000 artists represented by over 20,000 major and independent labels, Amazon MP3 complements Amazon.com’s existing selection of over 1 million CDs to offer customers more selection of physical and digital music than any other retailer.
Every song and album on Amazon MP3 is available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. This means that Amazon MP3 customers are free to enjoy their music downloads using any hardware device; organize their music using any music management application, and burn songs to CDs.
Most songs are priced from 89 cents to 99 cents, with more than 1 million of the 2 million songs priced at 89 cents. The top 100 best-selling songs are 89 cents, unless marked otherwise. Most albums are priced from $5.99 to $9.99. The top 100 best-selling albums are $8.99 or less, unless marked otherwise.
Every song on Amazon MP3 is encoded at 256 kilobits per second, which gives customers high audio quality at a manageable file size.
For those of you like me that like to dip their toes in the pool before diving in, the store is offering a free download of Energy by The Apples in Stereo where you can test out their product without actually spending the money. It only take a couple minutes to set thing up, it is no way as near as frustrating as the Unbox set up and download, and you should have the song playing within five minutes.
For anyone who is interested I will keep a link to Amazon MP3 on my sidebar for easy access from the 9th Green (full disclosure: I get a whopping 20% commission, granted that is only 20 cents per song, but I would be able to buy that gumball I’ve been eyeballing) and you can always buy the songs through the album ad for Amazon I post in every music review. And since the songs are DRM-free and sometimes cheaper (DRM-Free songs on iTunes are $1.29 per song), it is always worth looking to see if Amazon has it first before buying from iTunes. For fun below is a widget featuring songs from my list of 100 Best Songs of 2006 below (for those keeping track at home, only 22 songs on the list are available through Amazon MP3):