Amazon MP3: I’ll Buy Into That
Hey iTunes, check out the some of the DRM-free music deals the mega online retailer is offering.
September 26, 2007 by Arlen Schweiger

I have no idea if this is true or not, but my vision of the iPod world is that it’s split into two kinds of users: those whose iTunes music collections are 95 percent ripped CDs and 5 percent purchased downloads, and those whose collections are 95 percent purchased downloads and 5 percent ripped CDs.

My collection falls into the former category. Well before I got an iPod I had downloaded iTunes (for my home PC since I don’t have a Mac) and ripped as much to it as possible in preparation for the inevitable iPod buy.

Yes, I download plenty of music. Actually, plenty is an understatement as my CD collection contains a massive amount of downloaded concerts from some excellent BitTorrent-compatible sites. I have no idea how many CDs I’ve ripped, but I do know how many I’ve purchased from iTunes: only one.

Though I don’t buy too many CDs anymore, when I do I’ve generally given my loyalty to Newbury Comics, an awesome New England-area old-school type of record store that has a great selection of used CDs and DVDs.

Amazon.com, of all places, might get me to start buying more downloads though.

The company opened the virtual doors to its digital music store, Amazon MP3, on Tuesday, with 2 million songs available from 180,000 artists. The best part? You can play the tunes on any MP3 player you want because they are all digital rights management (DRM) free. 

The second best part? They’re cheaper than iTunes. Considerably so in some cases. Most iTunes downloads cost 99 cents per song and $7.99 to $11.99 for full albums. DRM-free songs, at twice the bitrate (256 kbps instead of the usual 128) were added for music in the EMI catalog recently to iTunes, at $1.29 a pop.

On Amazon, 89 cents is a common song price, and albums start at $5.99, though it looks already that some deals abound. Here’s one I found pretty quickly just perusing: Pink Floyd’s 1975 classic Wish You Were Here, in its 1992 digital remaster version, for $5.60 on Amazon in 256 kbps. As individual songs, four of the five cost 89 cents, while Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part Two) is $1.94. On iTunes, the 1975 version costs $7.99, with only two of the songs available as individual purchases, while the 1992 rerelease costs $11.99!

One more: the Smashing Pumpkins’ epic double CD Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is just $8.99 for the full 28-song album, at 256 kbps on Amazon; it’s $19.99 on iTunes.

Now there’s a deal I won’t even find at Newbury.

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

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