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Why I Like Amazon Music

Posted by susabelle at 6:26 AM on May 20, 2009

I have been a consumer of Amazon MP3′s for at least two years.  Probably longer.  I choose to buy music through the Amazon MP3 downloader above almost anything else.  One simple reason:  no DRM.

Amazon MP3′s can be downloaded for great prices, and they can then be burned to a CD, moved to an MP3 player, transferred to another computer, whatever you want to make your listening easier.  With iTunes, if I download a song or album, I have to use it on that machine, or on my iPod, but can use it nowhere else.  In our house, there are four people, 7 computers, and four MP3 players, only one of which is an iPod.  iTunes may have a great selection of music, but because there is no flexibility in use, iTunes is pretty much useless to me.

From Amazon last week I downloaded an album of 50 kid songs for my 7 year old.  I burned them onto CD and placed them on her computer so we could update her MP3 player when she is ready for new music.  I also downloaded two jazz albums for my own use, burned them to CD for my archives and also uploaded them to my iPod.  And I downloaded an album of circus music for my husband that he will use for background music when doing shows.  I burned them to CD and they are now in his show trunk.  And finally I downloaded the latest Green Day album for my 15 year old.  She immediately put it on her MP3 player.

I paid $23.95 for all of this music.  The same music on iTunes would have cost well over $100, and the songs would have all had to go on my iPod.  With Amazon, I can download whatever I want and give it to whichever family member is desiring it, and save it to whatever device I choose.  This flexibility pushes Amazon to the top of my list when it comes to music accumulation.  I live in constant fear that I will lose my downloaded iTunes music in a computer crash or iPod failure.  With the Amazon music, I know it’s always there, in multiple places, and that if I crash a computer or my iPod, I can still retrieve my Amazon downloads either from the CD I put them on for archives, or by logging into Amazon from another computer and re-downloading them (for free).

Another bonus for using Amazon?  They often have freebies, or 99-cent album sales, or special deals (I got the Green Day album for 5.99 as a deal of the day).  When it comes to pinching a penny, I’m an expert, and I definitely take advantage of Amazon’s specials and sales.

To be fair, I have also tried eMusic, and while it’s a great service with decent prices, selection is rather limited and can keep me from using that subscription enough to make it worth paying for.  Perhaps when they are further developed, they will be a better service.  eMusic downloads are also DRM free and can be burned to CD or uploaded to any type of MP3 player.

5 Comments

  1. From Michael Anderson at 6:49 am on May 20, 2009

    Um … while I agree with you on the love of Amazon MP3 store, do you not feel it is disingenuous to be posting this more than a month after *everything* in the iTunes store is DRM-free?

    It makes one of the core tenets of your article fundamentally … well, wrong.

    But what attracts me about Amazon is the sales – my wife and older son love Green Day, so the $5 price was a no-brainer. They have done loads of those ‘day of release’ sales and we have saved big bucks.

    I have also done very well with some of my more obscure jazz stuff, getting it for at least $1 less than on iTunes.

    My concern is about *how* they are offering these? I mean, the iTunes business model is pretty upfront, and the vast majority goes to record companies. Then there are server and bandwidth costs and service costs. Amazon has similar things in both counts, perhaps less on support and infrastructure because of their existing business.

    But still – unless they are choosing to lose money, how can they do this? The only other option is that record companies are choosing to (illegally, I might add) offer differing price structures as a means of reducing Apple’s power in the MP3 market.

    This is not a consumer-driven choice if true – it is about a path to higher prices and more control for record companies.

  2. From Joe at 7:31 am on May 20, 2009

    As the previous commenter pointed out, iTunes music is now DRM-free. Amazon is still the better choice for me, since the files are already in mp3 format and therefore don’t need conversion to play on any mp3 player in existence. If you have a bunch of old DRM-infected iTunes tracks, the easiest way to free them is to burn them to cd and then re-rip them. The whole process is ‘lossy’, but the difference isn’t that noticeable. Or you can pay Apple 30 cents per track to exchange them for the DRM-free version (if they are still doing this).

    By the way, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Napster, Rhapsody, etc, ALL sell DRM-free music. I don’t know of anyone major player still trying to sell protected music files. The online music landscape has changed dramatically in the last year.

  3. From susabelle at 7:49 am on May 20, 2009

    Yes, iTunes is “DRM Free.” Sort of. You have to do some finagling to get it to a point where it can be put on something besides the iPod registered to the iTunes account you are using. And it is more expensive. Amazon MP3 started out perfectly right out of the box, with no DRM and with ease-of-use in any form I want, at any time. iTunes didn’t do that until everyone else started to do it, and it’s still a difficult and time-consuming system to navigate.

    As for profits and where they go, that’s not my concern nor my problem; that’s between Amazon/Apple/Whoever and the artists/record companies. The fact is, I only have X amount of dollars to spend on music, and I try to get everything I can for that X amount of dollars, like most consumers.

  4. From susabelle at 7:50 am on May 20, 2009

    Thank you for your comments, Joe. Yes, I still like Amazon for myself, even though there are other things out there, I find their prices are consistently better (new albums for 9.99 or less most of the time) and the ease of use is just unmatched.

  5. From Michael Anderson at 11:57 am on May 20, 2009

    Rhapsody had some awesome deals on their DRM-free store when they started, but haven’t found anything lately (I got the 10-CD ‘Works’ by minimalist composer Steven Reich for $9.99!) … leaving Amazon the place to go for me.

    I recently set up to compare my listening devices after the most recent PSP firmware and DSi launched … the DSi uses AAC (but not MP3) so I could just bring my songs from iTunes, but the PSP uses MP3 (but not AAC) … so I had to do transcoding … listening to the results was unpleasant, so I ended up re-ripping some stuff from CD twice to get MP3 and AAC formats that would make them happy. What a hassle!

    Susabelle – I agree that we shouldn’t care WHY Apple had DRM for so long, but how can we not? The only reason we have a viable digital music market now is BECAUSE of Apple … and they only got there because they had to relent on DRM to the greedy record labels. And they only got it removed by relenting on price – and that only happened because the record companies had started offering DRM-free to others.

    I know, I know … blah, blah, blah … but as someone who has bought ~10 or so CD’s this year despite being nowhere near young, I am concerned that the record companies are so short-sighted that they will play games with the financial health of other companies in anti-competitive ways in order to further their own greed in anti-consumer ways.