Presenting possibly the biggest threat to the dominance of iTunes so far, Amazon.com has announced it will commence an international roll-out of Amazon MP3, it's DRM-free digital music store, this year. Amazon MP3 will offer customers MP3s free from the constrains of digital rights management from all four major music labels - …
In Keeping with Current Exchange Rates
The 89-99-cent/track rate will convert to £1.29/track when launched in the UK....
*the one with the huge pockets stuffed full of cash, please...*
RIAA/IFPI At it again?
I'm sure we will have global price fixing where the uk and europe gets screwed over by the RIAA/IFPI just as they forced apple to price fix, i'm sure the same will be done with amazon by denying outside region credit card payments where the same content can be found for half the cost and piped from the same servers!
The BPI Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, EMI.
The RIAA Soundexchange Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, EMI.
The MPAA Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, DISNEY, PARAMOUNT, FOX.
When will they offer APE or FLAC lossless downloads ?
I don't want to waste $5-$10 on a MP3 lossy copy of any album. And the majority of people will still prefer buying the physical CD to get the cover art,booklet and obviously the raw uncompressed tracks.
The fact that they removed the DRM stuff is a good thing for customers but prices are still too high for low quality lossy MP3 copies delivered online with no case,covers and booklet,physical media. For the current price they should be selling lossless APE and/or FLAC copies of each track. Manufacturers have started releasing MP3 players capable of reading APE and FLAC lossless compressed audio tracks, like the all new MPIO MG300 that I'm probably going to buy pretty soon.
WMP and itunes?
Why the mention of WMP and iTunes? Surely MP3 should be compatible with any MP3 player and should not require any proprietary software to be installed? That's just as bad as DRM!
Why an incremental rollout?
It must be more difficult than unblocking sales to all IP address. I wouldn't have expected this announcement if the right holders hadn't already agreed.
@the FLAC/APE fanatics
Oh for goodness sake stop going on about 'lossy' MP3! It has been shown repeatedly that in proper double blind tests even "audiophiles" can not tell the difference between MP3 of 196kbps or above and the original CD.
The choice of codec is not the issue here. The issue is an album costing $9.99 should cost £4.99 in the UK, but both you and I know that this will not be the case, it will be at least £9.99. Sadly this is so inevitable that most people in the UK will just accept it.
However Amazon are to be appluded for being the first (legal) service to offer DRM free downloads from major labels, and for this reason I hope the service is a success and then perhaps competition between iTunes + Amazon will drive prices down to where they belong (hey I can dream!).
@joerg & mark
Lets just be clear on one thing, the majority of plebs out there cannot tell the difference between a reasonable (168kbit+) MP3 track and CD quality. Personally, I can, but then I can also tell the difference between Vinyl and CD (although you can tell that most nowadays are recorded from CD-quality digital sources :( instead of a good analogue source). And I would love to see FLAC/APE downloads. But then I'm a musician who wants the best possible quality...
Most people are more than happy with the quality of downloaded music. Most people are fine with having no cover art, because Winamp/WMP etc download them automaticaly. They are less than happy about restrictive DRM. This is a major breakthrough, IMHO, but only if Amazon do not cave to the big lables over price fixing, and offer the same price everywhere (or at least let anyone use any counties server, allowing those in the know to use the cheapest). Price fixing is a MAJOR complaint for a lot of people (we pay in pounds what the US pay in dollars), and is one of the reasons I just dont buy music anymore (although its mainly that I have a large collection already, and the stuff being released ATM is pap).
I welcome this move wholeheartedly, assuming said price fixing doesnt occur.
I'm feeling optimistic today and don't see why Amazon would charge more than the US - so in my mind, the release of this service in the UK and the price sticking between $4-$10 in UK monies, could be the the year I stop being a downloading pirate *YARRR*, and start paying for music again. The only reason I stopped was the fact I never use CD's, that CD's started being mean to PC's, and the downloaded DRM hell I refused to buy into at a higher cost per track..... looks like Amazon are about to call my bluff! ;)
It's a marketing dig. ITunes DRM songs won't play on WMP and vice versa. Buy the DRM free songs from Amazon and they'll play on either or any player.
Competition is this market is good. If anyone thinks that Apple is just going to throw in the towel is kidding themselves.
So, ripping people off with high prices it's a good thing ?
To those claiming that people don't bother and wouldn't be able to tell the difference between lossy and lossless audio.. so multinationals can keep selling MP3 lossy encoded audio tracks at high prices for maximum profits at a fraction of the cost they had for CD distribution? Remove the higher quality physical media from the market and sell only lossy encoded lower quality versions of the products which ensures no delivery, packaging, marketing costs ?
For current prices and to be fair towards customers they should offer APE/FLAC lossless encoded audio tracks along with high-resolution cover arts and a license to print them for personal use. Also, the license should state that the owner is allowed to make copies to his/her relatives and parents. Simply because they know that that would happen anyway, so why keep negating that ?
Anyway what is for sure is that current prices are too high for MP3 lossy encoded audio tracks. They should lower MP3 tracks to 10-30cents each and leave current prices for APE/FLAC lossless versions.