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September 26th, 2007

Amazon MP3: Pretty Darned Good

In case you were under a rock yesterday: Amazon launched its MP3 music store. It’s interesting to see more competition for iTunes, of course, and ultimately I think Amazon will do well.

The biggest advantages Amazon has are a popular and major label-based library (versus largely-independent eMusic) and pricing that undercuts iTunes in most cases. For instance, the Decemberists’ The Crane Wife – on my “music to buy” list – costs $9.99 on iTunes (DRM free, 256k AAC) and is $7.99 on Amazon (DRM free, 256k MP3). A big difference versus iTunes is that the pricing is flexible. Most albums I looked at were indeed $9.99 or less; tracks varied between $0.79 and $0.99 each. A downside is that Amazon’s catalog is smaller than iTunes. (I wasn’t able to find Sleater-Kinney’s last album at all on Amazon MP3, yet it’s on iTunes.)

Is this good? Absolutely. This puts a little more pressure on Apple since these MP3s work on any player, including the ubiquitous iPods. But here’s where it could be bad: it’s entirely possible that the record companies are calling the shots with the pricing, and it’s entirely possible that we’ll see some classic RIAA moves. Then again, Radiohead is doing just fine on their own: their music is available on Amazon but only as whole albums. No individual tracks. Lame.

Of course we’ll see how it all goes but Amazon definitely has a fighting chance. I’d say they’re the strongest iTunes competitor yet, and I’ll definitely shop them first.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

Paul August 26, 2008, 2:59 am

You know, Amazon MP3 makes me wonder why I should use iTunes at all for music. So I generally don’t. Good stuff, great sales… they won me over.

iTunes has a better browsing experience though.

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