Thursday, October 18, 2007

iTunes Store vs. Amazon MP3

I love my iPod and iTunes, but I am extremely wary about purchasing music from the iTunes Store. Like everyone, I hate DRM and would rather hunt elsewhere to buy an MP3. I've been able to strip all my iTunes purchased songs using QTFairUse6 but that's a pain. For classical music, I usually buy the CD so I don't get the watered down bitrate. But my CD shelves are getting a full and I've found that I never listen to anything but my iPod anymore. Until now, I never had a one-stop place to look DRM-free MP3s. I'm sure Amazon has had their MP3 store for ages, but I just assumed it was just as pricey as iTunes (yes I am so cheap that I think $0.99 per song is pricey). But when I got this email from them detailing their store offerings, I took a another look.

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'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.

Even though Apple has just announced that they are dropping their DRM-free price to $0.99, that extra 10 cents that Amazon offers will definitely send me there. It's a 10% discount after all and every penny counts. And to test their breadth of selection, I searched for a version of Finzi's Eclogue for Piano and Strings where iTunes only has had an album-only version (edit - just checked, now they have a $0.99 version as well). Now I can finally enjoy this 10 minute long piece for $0.99. And you can as well!

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