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–Amazon.com (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, Amazon.com Vice President of Digital Music. “We are excited to tell those customers today that Amazon MP3 is going international this year.”

Launched on Amazon.com 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.