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Review of Amazon's DRM-Less Music Download Store 437

fdmendez writes to tell us that he had a chance to check out Amazon's DRM-less music download store that was recently released as a beta trial. "Amazon one-ups the iTunes store in every way except for popularity. Never once did I find an album to be more expensive on the Amazon store in comparison to the iTunes store. The download experience was pleasant, and the lack of DRM truly makes it YOUR music. I don't know of any other download service that could top the Amazon MP3 store."
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Review of Amazon's DRM-Less Music Download Store

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  • Obligitory (Score:5, Funny)

    by El_Smack ( 267329 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:32PM (#20759715)
    "I don't know of any other download service that could top the Amazon MP3 store."

    • Re:Obligitory (Score:5, Insightful)

      by p0tat03 ( 985078 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:36PM (#20759779)

      You mean the service where everybody leeches, resulting in complete lack of bandwidth available to downloaders unless you're in an exclusive, ratio-metered club?

      Or the one that really only works for popular albums, as anything old or otherwise unpopular and non-mainstream will have no seeders?

      Even accounting for the $0 price tag, Bittorrent has a LONG way to go to rival ANY paid music store.

    • Re:Obligitory (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:41PM (#20759879)
      Why was the parent modded funny? If anything is should be modded sad but true. Pirated music is typically of better quality (bitrate, encoder, etc) than any "legal" music store on earth.
      • by Leviathant ( 558659 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @05:23PM (#20760561) Homepage

        That's funny! At one time I thought the same thing. Anecdote: I was going through the tedious task of ripping my CDs, and after going through my collection of Nine Inch Nails and Autechre discs, I got the bright idea that instead of ripping my Aphex Twin collection, I'd just download a torrent. Same end result, right? I figured Aphex Twin fans would be fairly careful about audio fidelity, so I grabbed a torrent of some giganto Aphex Twin collection.

        The end result was all over the map. Sure, there were a number of albums that were alright, some of them were terrible, with skips and low bitrates and mistitled songs, not to mention whole albums of "rare and unreleased" mislabeled garbage that wasn't even by Aphex Twin. I would have better spent my time continuing to rip them myself.

        Alternatively, if I didn't already own the CDs, I would have happily bought large chunks of the Aphex Twin catalog from, which has been doing the DRM-free $1 MP3 download thing for over three years now.

  • I do... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:33PM (#20759725) Journal
    I don't know of any other download service that could top the Amazon MP3 store.

    • Re:I do... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by feed_me_cereal ( 452042 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:40PM (#20759869)
      what's the point of paying for mp3's you wont legally own? You might as well just pirate them for free.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        But we do have a right to use them, via our BLANK MEDIA TAX :)
        • Re:I do... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Goldberg's Pants ( 139800 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:55PM (#20760145) Journal
          Not only that, I find it endlessly amusing people see buying a digital replica of a song a good deal, especially when you work out the prices. I worked it out yesterday. The album I was looking at was a mere dollar cheaper in MP3 format. So that extra dollar gets you a physical disk you can make your own MP3's from, or if you want lossless, quality sound, FLAC format, (not an option when all you have is an MP3) all the packaging etc...

          It's like settling for a JPG of the Mona Lisa.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by fyrie ( 604735 )
            I agree. If I want the whole disc, buying mp3s isn't too appealing. However, if I want to make that perfect Yacht Rock mix CD, I'd rather buy 15 mp3s all from different albums rather than 15 albums. For single songs, digital downloads are the shiz.
          • Re:I do... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by ConanG ( 699649 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @05:33PM (#20760695)
            What if you only want a single song from that album? If you buy the disk, it's NOT cheaper than buying the one song.

            It's not like settling for a jpg of the Mona Lisa. It's like buying just the Mona Lisa jpg instead of a collection of artwork that includes the Mona Lisa. Maybe the rest of that artwork is crap.

            Back to the album...maybe you don't want to go through the trouble of converting it yourself. Maybe you don't want to mess with CDs at all. There are plenty of reasons why it's a better choice to buy a single off an album rather than the entire album.
          • Time = Money (Score:5, Insightful)

            by msimm ( 580077 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @05:43PM (#20760853) Homepage
            While I agree (mostly), those lines of thinking side-step things like convenience (I download it when I like, from the comfort of my home, probably while doing other things) and format (I use mp3's exclusively, so buying 'hard' media simply adds an additional step between me and the music).

            So while I agree that you end up paying more for less (no album cover, no liner notes, no physical media) it comes close to being a wash (not quite) with the immediacy and the convenience.
        • Re:I do... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent DOT jan DOT goh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @06:01PM (#20761105) Homepage
          NO. STOP IT.

          It's legal to download music because it's legal, not because of the blank media levy. Whether or not the industry is bilking you of that money, you have that right. It's not illegal. The media levy doesn't make it any more or less legal, though it may assuage some of the guilt people feel.

          If you put a levy on bullets to ease the pain and suffering of families that are broken apart by gun violence, it doesn't make shooting people legal. It's an illegal activity no matter what.

          The levy is a smoke screen so that we don't notice if they try and legislate our IP rights away. It's a random and immoral money grab. It presupposes guilt when you buy media for any purpose, even if the media has non-infringing purposes. We should all hate the levy.
      • Re:I do... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Lussarn ( 105276 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:52PM (#20760089)
        what's the point of paying for mp3's you wont legally own?

        What's the point of legally owning an mp3?
  • by SiChemist ( 575005 ) * on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:34PM (#20759743) Homepage
    I tried the store out yesterday (bought 1 track) and was very impressed. No special software needed (making it Linux friendly). This might just get me back into buying music again instead of listening to all my old stuff.
  • by mattgreen ( 701203 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:34PM (#20759759)
    I hope this service takes off, as competition between iTunes and other services only means less DRM, higher quality songs, and better selection for all of us. Amazon just needs to land some deals with record labels...
    • I've been surprised at how much they already have. Things I've struggled to find elsewhere. And when I did find it, I'd have to order the whole cd. There is a lot more that they can get, but the selection now is not what I would call sparse.
    • by e2d2 ( 115622 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @05:03PM (#20760251)
      Seems the current selection is pretty good. I did a check for my favorite artist, Bob Marley, and where some places only stock a few albums of his they have 66 albums. That means tons of live albums and other fairly obscure stuff. Bob is a pretty popular artist, but I dare anyone to walk into a Sam Goodies or HMV and find a copy of Boston '76 (live).

      But I fully agree, I really hope the record industry takes note and realizes that people actually will pay to download DRM-free music, it's profitable. That's what's gonna matter to these guys. When they realize they can sell the same album with NO media costs they'll jump (like they are selling ringtones!).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:36PM (#20759789)
    "the lack of DRM truly makes it YOUR music"... and YOURS, and YOURS, and HIS, and HER, and THEIR.
  • I've been getting my music either free or DRM-free or both from Emusic, Jamendo and Magnatune. I don't see any reason to start paying for mainstream music again.
  • It's too good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Necreia ( 954727 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:38PM (#20759835)
    It had the music I wanted -- Didn't require a special download -- Is DRM free -- Is properly priced. When will MAFIAA shut it down?
  • That would be any site that sold the actual .cda track, rather than an MP3. Without DRM, of course.
  • by Pausanias ( 681077 ) <pausaniasx@gmail.3.1415926com minus pi> on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:42PM (#20759903)
    is amazing! Prokofiev symphony #2 revealed 156 hits! Now that is some obscure music (his least popular symphony), and the fact that they would have multiple recordings of it right there for 90c... wow.
    • unfortunately I haven't had as good of luck as you yet. Both songs that I've been wanting lately didn't show up at amazon. I hope they have a larger collection at their official launch.
    • by Petrushka ( 815171 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @06:46PM (#20761615)

      is amazing! Prokofiev symphony #2 revealed 156 hits! Now that is some obscure music (his least popular symphony), and the fact that they would have multiple recordings of it right there for 90c... wow.

      Just for some balance,

      1. only a few of those hits are actually for Prokofiev's 2nd symphony;
      2. only three separate recordings are available;
      3. with one of them (the Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra recording), you're going to be paying that 90c for each and every variation in the second movement, for a total of $7.20 for that one movement. With the other two recordings (LSO and Berliner Phil.), you have to buy all the symphonies just to get number two, as number two is marked as "album only".

      I mean, it seems to me like they're on the right track, but someone hasn't put too much thought into the fact that classical music tends to have a lot of very short and very long tracks. Evidence of this -- compare the prices for the complete set of Prokofiev symphonies in those three recordings:

      • Naxos (Ukrainian/Polish orchestras) -- $65.02
      • LSO/Gergiev -- $36.12
      • Berliner Philharmoniker/Dzawa -- $21.67

      Who's going to pay more than three times as much for a Naxos set as for the Berliner Philharmoniker???

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @04:48PM (#20760001)
    and found your credit card number in it.

  • by Tack ( 4642 )
    For now it's US only. I emailed Amazon and asked this will be available to other countries and got the expected "we apologize for the inconvenience" non-answer from them.
  • I'm still anchored in my love for tactile product, I'll stick to cd's for now.
  • by jcr ( 53032 )
    That makes it viable. Good luck to Amazon, and I hope they can help to show the RIAA the pointlessness of DRM.


  • Granted, there probably aren't a lot of them, but it looks like an album with one very long track [] only costs the price of one track.
  • by db32 ( 862117 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @05:13PM (#20760363) Journal
    Are we still supposed to loathe Amazon for their patent nonsense with crap like the 1-click issue? I mean...I thought we weren't supposed to buy from them and support evil patent trolls. But now, we are supposed to buy from them to show support for non DRM music stores. But we aren't supposed to buy from Apple anyways because of their iPhone shenanagins. But we are supposed to love Apple because its trendy. I am so confused. Will someone please deconflict the groupthink so I know if I'm allowed to buy non-DRM (good) music from Amazon (bad) instead of DRM music (bad) from Apple (both) or if I am supposed to loathe all of the RIAA music and not buy DRM or non-DRM music from any source if it is RIAA owned. What about indie music with DRM? Where does that fit in? God, someone please help... All I know for sure is the MS music store is 100% evil and the Zune will eat your soul.
  • Amazon are not the only game in town (although a welcome addition).. personally I quite like emusic which provides plenty of drm free mp3's for a small subscription fee.. []

    You can of course keep your downloaded mp3's after your subscription ends and while you remain a member you can re-download everything you previously downloaded as many times as you want.

    You wont get the latest top of the tops crap but you will find lots of really great music in many genres such as jazz, reggae, folk,
  • I just bought a track... It took my credit info that was stored (my fault, I suppose) and charged it without asking even once. (I have never turned on that 1-click crap.) I (wrongly) assumed it'd go in my cart and then I could purchase it. Luckily, I intended to follow through the whole process.

    The download was quick, and I'm playing it on Amarok right now, no problems.

    There's been a few songs lately I thought 'I'd buy that, if it were easy and reasonable.' Hm, guess it is, now. I'll probably pick up
  • UK Works (Score:4, Informative)

    by fozzmeister ( 160968 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @05:33PM (#20760703) Homepage
    OK it works for the UK too, unlike Apple...

    Because the "cost of doing business in the UK is higher" songs from Apple are _twice_ as expensive than in the US.

    All I have to do to use Amazon is get a Zip code that fits in a selected state and bob's your uncle! Half price music!
  • by jgoemat ( 565882 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2007 @05:50PM (#20760935)

    This is what I've been waiting for, I bought over 160 songs last night... The experience is great, one click will buy and import into iTunes just like apple. The 30 second previews load in just a couple of seconds. The music for the most part is cheaper than Apple. I got a couple of double-CD sets for under $10. I think this is one reason Universal is snubbing Apple, they wanted some control over song pricing and Apple only allows the flat 99 cent rate ($1.29 for the non-DRM songs). Some songs are more expensive on Amazon, I think I saw a few that were $1.99, but most are only 89 cents.

    I love previewing the songs, what would be perfect is if Amazon had radio stations to play the song previews. I could sit all day and just listen to the previews to find new music. I spent four hours yesterday looking for music. If it was just playing in the background all day I could open my browser and buy a song when I heard one I liked...

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. -- Oscar Wilde