Print 30 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on Oct 18 at 6:27 PM is setting its sites on iTunes with the release of its new DRM-free music download service is expanding its digital offerings with a new music store, Amazon MP3.  The store is considered highly anticipated, due to Amazon's high profile, despite the cluttered nature of the online music market.

The early version of the store launched this week, with an initial catalog of over 2 million songs.  The store is expected to directly compete with iTunes for online music dominance.

Singles on the new service are cheaper than iTunes -- sometimes.  Songs run from 89 cents to 99 cents, an Amazon claims in a statement that more than half of the 2 million songs priced at 89 cents.  The company guarantees that its top 100 best sellers will remain at 89 cents.

Amazon signed deals with Vivendi owned Universal Music Group, the largest record company in the world, and EMI, another major record label.  Altogether, Amazon claims it secured more than 20,000 record labels.

Users can download tracks from the new service in 256 kilobit per second VBR MP3 format without any copy protection: all music can be readily played on just about any MP3 player, including Apple's iPod family.  This move marks a departure from DRM-protected iTunes and recently launched ad-supported download service SpiralFrog. 

Universal Music Group is not happy in its relationship with Apple and voice its anger today in the headlines.  With its new deals with Amazon and SpiralFrog, UMG appears ready to jump ship from iTunes.  There may be no time like the present; NBC Universal pulled all of its iTunes offerings earlier this month specifically to move to Amazon.

Apple recently announced its three-billionth download since its debut four years ago; Amazon is the fifth largest audio CD vendor even without digital music downloads.

However, Amazon might not be the only DRM-free service in town for long.  Earlier this year Steve Jobs pledged to reduce DRM on its high-quality audio tracks.  These tracks cost more than Amazon's offerings ($1.29 versus $0.89), but if Apple is any indicator, eventual winner of this arms-race will be the merchant with the best labels, not the one with the least DRM.

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RE: Good
By h0kiez on 9/25/2007 2:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
What good is an iPod with massive gigabytes of storage space if there isn't an easy way to fill it with songs?

I'm not sure the ITMS is an easy to way "fill it". Say you've got a 30GB iPod...and a song is 5MB (round numbers)...$6,000 to fill your iPod sucks. And that's why, as Jobs has said and numbers back up that a tiny fracion of what is on iPods was actually purchased there.

RE: Good
By Oregonian2 on 9/27/2007 2:23:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, a lot of music is spendy, but you don't have to fill it all at once. I don't know the count of my CD collection but it's probably something over 400. But I didn't buy them all yesterday to fill an iPod, I've been buying them since I got my Sony CDP-101 CD player back when CD's first started (what's that been, 25 years?). True, not every track is a winner, but even still. Also when one has a "big" iPod one has room to spend, and can convert CD's with a very high bitrates and not worry about it. In any case I use iTunes to download massive quantities of free podcasts. Easy, automatic, and nicely organized. :-)

Note I'm not an Apple'ite. I'm pure Microsoft back to DOS 3.3 or so. I do like the iPods though.

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