Amazon MP3 Expanding Internationally, More DRM-Free in 2008

Amazon MP3Amazon today has announced plans to take its DRM-free MP3 music store to countries beyond the United States. In the U.S., at least, Amazon MP3 is already the online music store of choice.

It’s hard to compete with the largest library (3.3 million songs from 270,000 artists) of restriction free music, much of which is priced lower than the going rate of $0.99/track. And it integrates seamlessly with iTunes (or other desktop music applications) plus works with pretty much any digital music player available.

This announcement comes just days after rumors of Yahoo considering opening an online music store, though Amazon has set the bar fairly high. At this point, any competition (including Apple) has to play catch up before I’d consider switching again.

For those curious as to which countries this might mean… Well, the press release doesn’t say explicitly. But reading between the lines of the last sentence (“The company is not disclosing a specific launch timeline for individual Amazon international websites”), the new offering is likely to be for those countries which already have their own separate Amazon website, namely: Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France, China, and Japan.

See Amazon’s press release below:

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jan. 27, 2008– (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that in 2008 the company will begin an international rollout of Amazon MP3, Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 digital music store where every song is playable on virtually any digital music-capable device, including the PC, Mac(R), iPod(R), Zune(R), Zen(R), iPhone(TM), RAZR(TM), and BlackBerry(R). Amazon MP3 is the only retailer to offer customers DRM-free MP3s from all four major music labels as well as over 33,000 independent labels.

“We have received thousands of e-mails from Amazon customers around the world asking us when we will make Amazon MP3 available outside of the U.S. They can’t wait to choose from the biggest selection of high-quality, low-priced DRM-free MP3 music downloads which play on virtually any music device they own today or will own in the future,” said Bill Carr, Vice President of Digital Music. “We are excited to tell those customers today that Amazon MP3 is going international this year.”

Launched on in September 2007, Amazon MP3 offers Earth’s Biggest Selection of a la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads, which now includes over 3.3 million songs from more than 270,000 artists. Every song and album in the Amazon MP3 music download store is available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software and is encoded at 256 kbps to deliver high audio quality. Amazon MP3 customers are free to enjoy their music downloads using any hardware device; organize their music using any music management application, such as iTunes(R) or Windows Media Player(TM); and burn songs to CDs for personal use.

Most songs available on Amazon MP3 are priced from 89 cents to 99 cents, with more than 1 million of the over 3.3 million songs priced at 89 cents. The top 100 bestselling songs are 89 cents, unless marked otherwise. Most albums are priced from $5.99 to $9.99. The top 100 bestselling albums are $8.99 or less, unless marked otherwise. Buying and downloading MP3s from Amazon MP3 is easy. Customers can purchase downloads using Amazon 1-Click shopping, and with the Amazon MP3 Downloader, seamlessly add their MP3s to their iTunes(R) or Windows Media Player(TM) libraries.

The company is not disclosing a specific launch timeline for individual Amazon international websites.

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  • See, Amazon’s got the right idea going DRM-Free. Just today there was news out of a new service that was supposed to open tonight (though some reports are saying it’s a scam) that would enable users to download all the free music they wanted, LEGALLy off of a type of P2P platform. The catch was that it’s ad supported AND the music comes with DRM. The recording industry and it’s contractors really just need to give up on the whole DRM kick if they want users to feel more inclined to pay for music downloads. It’s good to see that some of them have and that Amazon is taking advantage of it and providing DRM free music to it’s users.

  • Paul Ellis

    Amazon’s DRM-free MP3s are definitely a step in the the right direction, but Qtrax isn’t necessarily bad. I’m just glad the record labels have finally realized the value most people put on DRM’d music (almost zero). Qtrax is just more choice, and that can’t be bad. I won’t use it probably, but others might. On that same token, I won’t use Amazon’s MP3 store either because I can’t stand the low fidelity of MP3. I know, I’m a music snob. 🙂

  • Qtrax is a good idea in principle, mainly because of the the vast number of songs they said they would offer. The issue is that according to most news sites I’ve been reading this afternoon, Qtrax has yet to sign any contracts with any of the major music labels. Apparently, most of them are even going so far as to deny ever even being in negotiations with Qtrax…with the exception of Universal. This is slightly dissapointing.

    If someone could somehow figure out a way to offer free, legal, DRM-Free music (either MP3’s or WMA’s) that were atleast 192kbps or better, that would be amazing. It could even be ad supported for all I care. Sadly, this is probably just a dream. 😉

  • Paul Ellis

    I don’t think you could ever full support a non-DRM music business model with advertising. I would doubt you could even support a paid subscription model (ala Napster 2.0) without DRM. I probably won’t be purchasing downloaded tracks until they are either losslessly compressed CD-quality files (FLAC, WMA Pro, Apple Lossless) or a high quality audio codec at a higher sample rate and bit-depth (WMA/Vorbis/AAC at 96khz/24bit). At this point, I still find it easiest to just order the CD from Amazon and rip it myself.

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