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Amazon MP3 Vs. iTunes Music Store

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the head-to-head dept.

Media 310

Ali writes "As discussed here recently, amazon.com has launched a public beta of Amazon MP3, a digital music store that provides DRM-free downloads of over 2 million songs from 180,000 artists and 20,000 labels. In comparison, Apple says the iTunes Store now contains over 6 million songs. Here is a head-to-head comparison."

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310 comments

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I choose Amazon (Prime) (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798615)

I still like getting the actual CDs. Better quality, fewer restrictions, less chance of me losing it, etc. With Prime I get them in a couple days, which is fast enough for me, then I convert them to FLAC for later conversion to any other format I desire.

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (-1, Redundant)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798697)

I choose none. Until I can buy an album for a buck or two, I just don't care. Honestly, how many times am I going to listen to it anyway?!

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (2, Interesting)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798769)

I suppose then you aren't one of those people who likes to listen to albums years after buying them? Or who likes to listen to music while reading a page? If I like an album a lot, I'm going to listen to it dozens of times. Ten to thirty hours of listening is worth five to ten dollars to me.

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (4, Funny)

anagama (611277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798863)

Crap. If I like an song a lot, I end up listening to it over and over and over incessantly. Longest was around 3 weeks. And when I say incessantly, I mean constantly -- just leave the song on repeat. If I'm that stuck and I turn it off, I get uncomfortable as it imperfectly echoes through my head. If I try to listen to something else, I just get frustrated. So anyway, I have a certain subset of songs for which I've really gotten my money's worth.

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799001)

You need to seek professional help, my friend.

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799103)

Hopefully this won't get modded Offtopic before you see it, but there's a track of Paranoid Android covered by a university marching band I used to listen to over and over just that way. What kind of music did you prefer? You didn't say.

Dan

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (1)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799323)

Someone in my old apartment block did that, starting Friday night and going right through the weekend (stopped late each night, back on first thing next morning). By Saturday I hated the song (I sort of liked it before). By Sunday I wished fervently that the person playing it would just die. Not nicely either, but painfully and slowly. It was more than a little irritating.

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (5, Interesting)

0123456789 (467085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798789)

They're so close to getting it right though; why not, when you order the CD from Amazon, allow you to download the MP3 while you're waiting for the 'couple of days' shipping?

profit margin (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798995)

They're so close to getting it right though; why not, when you order the CD from Amazon, allow you to download the MP3 while you're waiting for the 'couple of days' shipping?
Wow. That's a killer idea. I hope they steal it.

The problem with that, and maybe with the whole amazon gig is the profit margin issue. My impression, perhaps I'm wrong, was that apple was pocketing less than a dime a song for itunes music store. I suppose that varies a lot with the rate songs are sold since there are many fixed costs. If that dime a song margin is accurate then amazon must be running on fumes since they are underselling Apple. Presumably this is not too server lite either since I'm guessing the songs are watermarked with your ID and then MP3 compressed. So assuming amazon is not getting a better deal than apple it's hard to see how these low rates will last. Recall the record companies wanted apple to 1) share Ipod revenues with them and 2) raise prices on new releases. Given that I'd say either the record comapnies have decided to sell music for less (ha ha ha) or these are teaser rates. Does anyone think Amazon is giving them a cut of music player sales.... So it makes not sense for the record companies to move away from apple to accept even less (unless they were incredibly freakin' scared). So getting back to the CD shipping. That would mean even less profit perhaps or perhaps they could charge $1 for the instant album download option.

Re:profit margin (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799023)

Thinking about this some more. I now wonder if you nailed the entire gambit. It's win for amazon and win for the record companies if they can drive people back from single song sales to album sales. What better way to do that than to give free instant downloads for each physical media purchase. To get that of course you are buying the album. That would be a reason for the record companies to be willing to give amazon a lower price--especially temporarily.

Re:profit margin (3, Interesting)

Temposs (787432) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799183)

There's at least one Indie label doing something like this. They sell some vinyls as well as CDs. The problem with selling a vinyl is of course that you can't easily make a digital copy of it. Here's how they sell the music of Page France:

http://www.suicidesqueeze.net/order.html [suicidesqueeze.net]

"Page France
and the Family Telephone CD/LP...

CD Price: $12.00

LP Price: $10.00 (Limited edition! Comes with a coupon for a free download of the entire album in MP3 format.)"

So basically, you pay less for the vinyl and get to download MP3s as well. Pretty good deal there.

Drive customers away from Apple... (3, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799309)

No, the labels aren't scared, they're pissed off that Apple has the ability (and the gall) to stand up to them and tell them what to do.

As such, I think you're missing an essential part of the strategy: The labels put MP3s on Amazon in an attempt to drive customers away from Apple, with the result that if enough people switch then Apple no longer has the clout to stand up to them. After that the next time the contracts are negotiated they raise the rates everywhere and require everyone to use whatever brand of DRM they see fit.

Goodbye DRM-free iTunes. Goodbye DRM-free MP3s.

As much as I like Amazon, I like Apple's stance on the subject more. I'm sticking with iTunes.

Re:Drive customers away from Apple... (4, Interesting)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799395)

After that the next time the contracts are negotiated they raise the rates everywhere and require everyone to use whatever brand of DRM they see fit.
And when neither Amazon nor Apple play ball, they give up and come back. Quietly.

Heck, in that sort of situation Amazon and Apple could probably sue "them" for antitrust violations.

!FLAC, !Lossless.... !Problem (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799207)

Let me guess: You buy overpriced $100 gold tipped cables, don't you?

!lossless = !buying (3, Insightful)

Dhraakellian (665509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799275)

Let me guess: You buy overpriced $100 gold tipped cables, don't you?

Don't get me wrong. My ears probably don't care, really, and I'd be transcoding to Ogg Vorbis as soon as I got it.

But I still don't want to be locked into a single lossy format forever, even if I was buying it in today's best codec.

This is one reason I plan to start buying and burning off FLACs from Magnatune [magnatune.com] in the near future. Their full-length mp3 samples are fine for previewing/freeloading, but if I'm going to actually pay money for the music, I'd like the freedom to change to tomorrow's super-high-compression/quality format when it comes out. (Plus, supporting indie artists on labels with cool business models is nifty too...)

Tomorrow? Don't lie, you'll buy it again! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799351)

I'd like the freedom to change to tomorrow's super-high-compression/quality format when it comes out.

Tomorrow's 1280 kbps, 192 kHz, 8 channel surround sound? I'm sure you'll dutifully transcode all your old files, just like you converted all your old 11 kHz mono WAVs to FLAC, right? The anal retentive FLAC crowd will be at the front of the line to throw away more money on the same files they've repurchased dutifully for decades. I can hear it now... "It's better quality!" Like any of you can hear the difference anyway. I stand by my gold cable statement.

Re:I choose Amazon (Prime) (4, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799287)

"fewer restrictions"

After seeing how many music disks are sold without the CD-DA logo, strongly suggesting that there is non-audio, likely executable code on the disk to interfere with ripping, I have my doubts about this. I find myself wondering if, at this point, buying a DRM-free MP3 from Amazon actually leaves the consumer more liberated than buying a music disk.

Bad info in article. (4, Informative)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798621)

iPod compatibility. Thanks to the lack of DRM, and in particular, Windows-specific DRM, songs purchased from Amazon MP3 will play on an iPod, something that has never been true for a mainstream online music retailer (other than Apple) before.
Wow. I wonder if this place has ever heard of eMusic [emusic.com] .

Re:Bad info in article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798649)

I know I've never heard of eMusic

Re:Bad info in article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798665)

Last I checked eMusic didn't sell mainstream music.

Re:Bad info in article. (2, Insightful)

log0n (18224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798669)

emusic isn't mainstream. 9 out of 10 non-slashdot'r haven't heard of it.

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

kungfujesus (969971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799179)

It's the 2nd most popular online music store if you count sales.

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799317)

Which means what? They make rank number two, but what are their sales? 1/100th that of iTunes? 1/1,000th?

Re:Bad info in article. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798673)

Maybe they should let people see what's available without signing up.

Re:Bad info in article. (0)

subsolar2 (147428) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798787)

Maybe they should let people see what's available without signing up.

You can, and even preview songs... just go to http://www.emusic.com/ [emusic.com] and you get the main page where you can start browsing.

Yes it used to have just an advert to join up, but you could browse them if clicked on "contact us" at the bottom of the page and then the browse tab at the top.

Re:Bad info in article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798881)

I don't know what it's returning for you, but I just get "Join now" links plastered everywhere and a huge advertisement. No browse link anywhere.

Re:Bad info in article. (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798931)

You can, and even preview songs... just go to http://www.emusic.com/ [emusic.com] and you get the main page where you can start browsing.

False. This works for you because you are signed up. Try accessing the site from a different profile or browser (or clean out the cookie and restart the browser). I can't see any way to browse what's available without signing up first, giving them my credit card number and authorizing them to bill me.

Re:Bad info in article. (2, Informative)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799019)

Go here: http://www.emusic.com/browse/all.html [emusic.com] .

You can also click on the "Login" button on eMusic.com and then a search box and all the links are there.

Or install the Firefox search [mozdev.org] .

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

carbon116 (792624) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799083)

If you actually read arth1's post, you'll see he's right. Click on the "about eMusic" link at the bottom of the front page then hit the browse tab. I've never been to that site in my life, but I' browsing without an account now.

Re:Bad info in article. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798961)

Epic fail. For those who can't find it. [emusic.com]

Seeing as how that's probably the most important thing anybody would want to do before signing up, seems pretty silly to hide it in such a non-obvious place.

Re:Bad info in article. (5, Informative)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798681)

eMusic is certainly not a mainstream music retailer. They don't sell you MP3s the way the grocer sells you a melon. You have to sign up for a month and you're allowed to download a song a day, roughly, although nobody does that. I can go to Amazon and spend 89c on a single song and never return. At eMusic, I have to pay $9.99 at least and then I have to remember to cancel it if I don't want it any more.

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798733)

Fair point. A number of people I associate with have subscriptions (yes, some have multiple) to eMusic, however. It isn't as unknown as it once was - just the fact that Winamp users are greeted with it upon install is enough to establish it a little more than some places.

Re:Bad info in article. (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798777)

Indeed. eMusic is the internet equivalent of the sleazy music subscription services which sucker customers by offering initial "FREE" music. The catch is that you have to sign up for a plan in advance, and the onus is on YOU to cancel the subscription before the trial period expires, and NOT order more than what the free offer covers, or the plan will automatically take effect, and your credit card will get charged. And continue to get charged every month, whether you order anything or not. Termination of the service is invariably more cumbersome than signing up for it.
This kind of offering is illegal in several countries with government mandated consumer protection, which I find rather telling.

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

Shrubbman (3807) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798837)

I didn't have a problem with canceling my eMusic account. It's been several months since I went through it, but if memory serves it was just a click or two, and I don't remember exactly but there may have been a confirmation email I had to click a link from. All par for the course for typical website subscriptions in my experience.

eMusic was OK for me (1)

nigels (264332) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799257)

I had no trouble untangling from eMusic when I needed to trim the monthly budget. I found plenty of worthwhile music on there, although it's far from complete - so I think it works for more of the "explorative" music shopper. The thing that bugged me was the "pressure" to use my credits each monthly cycle, rather than being able to splurge them when I had the time and inclination.

Re:Bad info in article. (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798865)

Actually, eMusic does have a $6 per month plan, covering 0-10 songs per month (i.e. averaging at $1.20 per song, or $.60 if and only if you make sure you always download exactly 10 songs in any given billing period.
Of course, even getting to see their plans without signing up is deliberately made difficult, but if you follow the links around from their legalese pages, you find a well buried link to the plans [emusic.com] .

I have had no luck in finding out what quality the tracks are ripped with, or what software was used to rip them. Nor any other technical details.

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

k_187 (61692) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799007)

Checking one of the songs I got when I was a member there (which was close to 2 years ago FYI). iTunes says 215 VBR MP3, encoded w/ LAME 3.92. I can only assume that hasn't changed much. I liked emusic, just couldn't find enough to download, so I quit. Which wasn't that difficult. Just had to click through a few "yes, I'm sure. No, I don't want another month for cheaper" screens.

Re:Bad info in article. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798815)

Wow. I wonder if this place has ever heard of eMusic.


Your comment was the first time I'd heart of it (or perhaps I'd read of it in passing before, but this is the first time it registered.)

So, I went to go see what how their selection is. Guess what, can't do anything without signing up for a trial (and giving them name, address and a credit card number.) You really think I'm going to do that when I have no idea what bands they even carry?

Plus the "deal" seems to resemble those old shady Columbia House ads my parents would never let me sign up for. $10 for 30 downloads a month. Not sure what it costs to buy more than 30, and of course if you don't choose 30 songs you're still out the money. Sorry, but that doesn't work for me. Buying music is an impulsive thing. I don't want a steady stream of 30 songs to pick a month. I want to buy things on a whim, some times no songs a month, some times going on a tear and buying dozens or hundreds when I discover a new band or genre.

And of course, if they don't have what I want, I'll have to get it elsewhere-- while still paying them their monthly fee. And I guarantee they won't have everything I want. Fuck that.

Maybe this has something to do with why no one has heard of it? Sounds like a pretty crappy business model to me.

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

xubu_caapn (1086401) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798839)

I liked eMusic when you could download an unlimited amount. I could get about three albums a day, and this was on a 56k modem (that's how long ago they had that pricing scheme).

Re:Bad info in article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798981)

Not only does it require a subscription, emusic's selection sucks awefully

Re:Bad info in article. (1)

gaspyy (514539) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799405)

You know, before Amazon's announcement, I've never seen eMusic mentioned on Slashdot. It was iTunes, iTunes vs. Urge, iTunes vs SomeOtherDRMStore, iTune vs TheWorld.

Now that Amazon's store is here, I see the comparison with eMusic everywhere, as if it's no big deal since others have done that before. Maybe so, but Amazon is the first real competitor that has a compelling strategy.

Summary (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798625)

For those too lazy to RTFA, here's the verdict:

Not Too Shabby -- Amazon MP3 is the first online music store that hasn't left me cold. Its advantages are very real:

        * No DRM. No consumer likes DRM, and although Apple hasn't yet released any statistics on how the DRM-free tracks from EMI have sold in comparison with the DRM-encumbered versions of the same tracks, Amazon has done the right thing by eliminating it across the board. Hopefully Amazon's move will give Apple some leverage with the music labels to make more DRM-free tracks available.

        * iPod compatibility. Thanks to the lack of DRM, and in particular, Windows-specific DRM, songs purchased from Amazon MP3 will play on an iPod, something that has never been true for a mainstream online music retailer (other than Apple) before.

        * Low prices. I don't have a sense for how price-conscious the online music market really is, but with many tracks priced below even the cost of Apple's DRM-encumbered tracks, and albums priced even lower, I could see budget-driven consumers or those who buy a lot of music preferring to purchase from Amazon MP3 over the iTunes Store.

        * 1-Click shopping. People do not like creating new accounts for shopping, but there's no question that some people shop from Amazon over other venues purely because it's such a known quantity after years of easy ordering. Ordering via Amazon MP3 isn't as easy as from the iTunes Store, but it's not far off.

Re:Summary (1, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798901)

* 1-Click shopping. People do not like creating new accounts for shopping, but there's no question that some people shop from Amazon over other venues purely because it's such a known quantity after years of easy ordering. Ordering via Amazon MP3 isn't as easy as from the iTunes Store, but it's not far off.

And as long as Amazon holds on to their 1-click shopping patent, I (and many others) refuse to do business with them, but take our money elsewhere. Yes, there's still people who boycott them, seven years later, and the aggregate amount of money we have spent elsewhere is far from trivial.

Regards,
--
*Art

Re:Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798965)

Moderators: How can quoting and making a directly related comment on a part of TFA be "Offtopic"?

David Cross is a genius (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799299)

"There are dozens of us!"

Re:Summary (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798983)

Amazon MP3:
* no DRM
* money eventually goes to fund the RIAA

iTMS:
* DRM
* money eventually goes to fund the RIAA

Until the RIAA stops suing grandmothers and interrogating 8-years-old children, neither looks like a good option.

I'd rather go Amazon (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798661)

I prefer Amazon because I will not touch DRMed music, tied to a platform even with a 10 foot pole!

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (-1, Flamebait)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798767)

I absolutely hate iTunes and I'm no big fan of Apple either. They're the Starbucks of the computer world with the flashiness and severe overpricing just to pay for a brand and extra prettiness. But despite my recommendations, my dad who's a DJ went with iTunes with the ridiculous DRM that went so far that they actually have their own filetype. I told him it was insane but he just downloads songs, burns them to a CD, then rips them on the player computer and they're completely un-DRMed as far as I can tell. And that barely loses quality since MP3 to CD quality to top quality MP3 isn't too bad. So yeah it's pretty fast and pretty nice. But no DRM in the first place is good too.

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798813)

you fucking low life apple fanboi. these are steps we shouldn't have to take. we have the right to the music unhindered. we're already paying too much for this music. we should get if for free and without drm.
 
you're nothing but steve jobs house nigger. how much did they pay you to come and be a shill? you paid for fuckers are easy to see from a distance.

Sick of all of you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798855)

I have declared open war on mindless Apple suckers. No matter what, they will either try to prove Apple is the best, or come up with lame defenses to remove any shade of negativity on Apple's part. Sick of it already!! Not a fanboi, huh!?

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (3, Informative)

fangorious (1024903) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798883)

When will people get a fucking clue that the MP4 files that iTunes sells are not an Apple proprietary format? It's the codec developed to replace MP3. It was developed by the same freaking people who developed MP3. You know you can buy songs without DRM from iTunes? Thirty cent price jump for 256 kpbs MP4 (theoretically superior quality to 256 kbps MP3) with no DRM for individual tracks. No price jump if you buy the whole album. And reportedly Amazon's terms of service don't allow re-downloading of transfer of ownership.

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (3, Funny)

lawrenlives (991376) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798959)

Whatever, I ain't payin 30 cents more for tracks that don't even have DRM. That's whack.

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (1, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799107)

the MP4 files that iTunes sells are not an Apple proprietary format? It's the codec developed to replace MP3. It was developed by the same freaking people who developed MP3
Why don't they just offer mp3's then? A lot more people would want mp3's because they work with everything.

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799349)

Because: A) It's a better codec, and B) nearly any modern player will handle AAC.

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799095)

But despite my recommendations, my dad who's a DJ went with iTunes with the ridiculous DRM that went so far that they actually have their own filetype.
iTunes uses AAC, which is an MPEG standard. Just like MP3.

I told him it was insane but he just downloads songs, burns them to a CD, then rips them on the player computer and they're completely un-DRMed as far as I can tell. And that barely loses quality since MP3 to CD quality to top quality MP3 isn't too bad. So yeah it's pretty fast and pretty nice. But no DRM in the first place is good too.
You need to tell him about QTFairUse6 (google it). It will remove the DRM without any loss in quality. Takes less than than burning and ripping too.

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799221)

But despite my recommendations, my dad who's a DJ went with iTunes with the ridiculous DRM that went so far that they actually have their own filetype.

With solid info like that, I can't imagine why he wouldn't listen to you.

Mee too! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798937)

Make that an infinity + 1 foot pole for me!

In Soviet Russia, pole touches you!

Re:Mee too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799327)

I have an infinity + 1 foot pole. And in my house, I touch pole.

iTunes Plus DRM free... (3, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798951)

iTunes Plus is DRM free. However, it's unknown how many titles actually are offering using it (only EMI still and not all those titles) and the price is a little higher. The quality of a 256k AAC encode vs. a 256k MP# Amazon encode may be somewhat different, but at those bitrates it's probably basically indistinguishable.

Sometimes though buying it from the iTunes store is simply more convenient... but I sure wish they'd hurry and expand iTunes Plus.

1-click patent (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799251)

I prefer Amazon because I will not touch DRMed music

Unfortunately, by choosing Amazon you'd support a company which has troubled the entire internet with their 1-click patent war.

Re:I'd rather go Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799361)

Gaaaahhh.... Not again.

Apple would just *love* to sell you non-DRM'ed music files, but it's the labels led by Universal (I would not be surprised at all that the hand of Bill is behind this) that don't want it to happen. It's not as if Apple invented this DRM concept -- hell, the first time I heard anything about "DRM", it came from M$. I don't remember when exactly (around '98, '99???), though I'm sure someone else around here must remember it.

Apple just dished out the least annoying version of DRM out there (along with being the biggest proponent of "sale" instead of _rental_).

I just hate it when people act as if Apple was the worst thing that happened to downloadable music, as if they are the ones holding it back.

Finally (2, Informative)

notoriousE (723905) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798747)

I used to say "If I could purchase a track for a buck i'd buy more music, because then I wouldn't have to buy 10 or so other crappy songs with it on an album" Then the itunes store came around -- then i realized i couldn't easily transfer songs to my non-apple mp3 player

i think now i WILL actually buy some music in digital form --- kudos to amazon

Re:Finally (2)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798905)

Right on!

iTunes came out around the time I had bought an mp3 player. I was ready to jump into buying digital music (yes, I know vinyl is the best and mp3 is the last, forgive me) when I saw iTunes. But no - Apple just rejected me as a customer by their businessmindedness when they included DRM, and also tried to force me buying iPod.

For all these years, I have been buying CDs when I wanted the music, ripping it off to mp3 (and later ogg when I learned about it) and putting it to my jukebox (iRiver H320) - while waiting for an alternate to iTunes. Yes, I have tried eMusic, I have tried Magnatune [magnatune.com] with Amarok, and I have bought songs from them. Pretty decent services - coz I was getting off the high horse of mainstream music and was discovering wonderful world of underground/secondary music scene - no complaints there. But I never found some of the mainstream music (and some not-so) anywhere.

Amazone comes and fills the gap so nicely. If at all I want to buy a Pink Floyd again, nothing prevents me now. If at all I want to buy Asian Underground, nothing prevents me anymore. Same is true for (east) Indian classical music, for which I never had any option whatsover, and now I have at least 500 albums to choose from. And guess what, as long as I have a browser on my system, I have the music - no matter if its Ubuntu or Windows or anything else.

Amazon needs to add easy sorting (1)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798803)

It would be really useful if I could click on "Song Title", "Artist", and "Album" to sort according to them. If I search for "Oasis", there's no easy to way to separate the albums titled that from the artist.

Re:Amazon needs to add easy sorting (3, Funny)

emc (19333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799035)

"If I search for "Oasis", there's no easy to way to separate the albums titled that from the artist."

Amazon would be doing you a favor if they returned results to another artist.

How about adding Spiralfrog & imeem (2, Interesting)

hedkandee (1148031) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798825)

Might be interesting to compare itunes vs amazon vs imeem vs spiralfrog - imeem.com [imeem.com] and spirafrog are both free music services supported by advertising. imeem is a little like youtube but it has become more music orientated and allows users to listen to CD quality music on demand via a flash based player, they've signed sony,bmg and warner brothers on top of the usual mess of indie labels and whatever the users have uploaded. Spiralfrog allows downloads and has universal as their biggest label, but the downloads are DRM encapsulated windows media files which can be copied to mp3 players but not burned to CD, spiralfrog requires a special Active-X plugin so its windows + IE only. I wonder whether the average user will tolerate the restrictions in exchange for being free, or if they'll just stick with p2p downloads instead?

Re:How about adding Spiralfrog & imeem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799061)

Spiralfrog allows downloads and has universal as their biggest label, but the downloads are DRM encapsulated windows media files which can be copied to mp3 players but not burned to CD, spiralfrog requires a special Active-X plugin so its windows + IE only. I wonder whether the average user will tolerate the restrictions in exchange for being free, or if they'll just stick with p2p downloads instead?

On a whim, I went to SpiralFrog and installed their software. I logged in with a fake account (thanks BugMeNot [bugmenot.com] ), downloaded a song from IE7 and from Firefox, and then ripped the DRM off of both using FairUse4WM [doom9.org] . The end result was free music, without DRM, and without giving away any of my personal information. If the only trade-off is that you have to use Windows (Firefox works, so you don't have to use IE), that seems fair enough to me. The music is still in WMA format, but with the DRM stripped off you can convert it to whatever format's useful for you.

Re:How about adding Spiralfrog & imeem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799253)

If you want to break the DMCA law and go against the wishes of the music companies why bother going to all that trouble of getting music through spiralfrog? You may as well just pirate it.

I see hope on the horizon! (0, Flamebait)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798849)

I sincerely hope that this store kicks the trash out iTunes. One because I know so many people that got screwed by the iTunes they purchased trying to be good little boys and girls. And Two, cause iTunes is a craptacular interface to add and take songs away from devices. When I had an iPod I used Winamp to manage the music cause it could take songs off as well as put them on, it kinda sucked cause of the ID3 tag mess ups and both Winamp and iTunes adding and taking away from the songs title, artist etc etc. Apple makes some wicked awesome hardware, I just wish they would leave the software up to some one else....

Re:I see hope on the horizon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798921)

You will find a lot of people that disagree with you. I prefer iTunes over WinAmp by far. I never heard of anyone who go screwed by the iTunes store either. To me it is a really great store, but I will check out Amazon of course.

Re:I see hope on the horizon! (0, Troll)

HartDev (1155203) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798967)

You have not heard of anyone? I have a brother in law who bought music and now wants a different device, he can't trade it over and basically lost all his music, a guy I work with in IT of all things, bought videos off of iTunes and had to fix or reformat his computer, and he can't use those purchased videos anymore, it is like buying a DVD and then if you are really good "they" will let you view it.....on their software, their hardware, their terms!

Re:I see hope on the horizon! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799031)

You are just spreading FUD, right? You can authorize up to 5 computers to your iTunes account. You can simply authorize your new computer if you need to fix/reformat/sell your computer. If you use up your authorization quota or doesn't want to waste one, you can de-authorize your old computer and re-authorize your new one. If for some reason you can't get iTunes to work, you can call up Apple Customer Service and request de-authorization.

BTW, tell your brother-in-law that he can burn his music to Audio CDs so he can use it with his new device. If he doesn't want re-compressed music, he can download softwares to remove FairPlay. Search engines are your friend.

You know... (1)

Corpuscavernosa (996139) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798867)

I'd happily deal with the slightly less streamlined process on Amazon to legally download DRM free music. That and slightly lower prices should drive me completely from iTunes.

Redundant? (2, Insightful)

weirdcrashingnoises (1151951) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798889)

The fact that it's called "Amazon MP3" and then to tag it "not flac" and "not lossless" seems rather redundant don't you think? Obviously mp3 is not flac, and everyone already knows mp3 is a lossy format.

Re:Redundant? (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798933)

If I were to listen to my music only on my iPod or with my small computer speakers, why would I care if it's lossy or not? I can't tell the difference with such small speakers? So why wouldn't I appreciate Amazon saving me the trouble of making my music compatible with the music players I already use?

Re:Redundant? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798955)

Never mind. Its just that Apple fanbois are out in droves to put stupid tags to salvage some points on the story which will get some anti-Apple comments favoring a service from a competitor to apple.

Re:Redundant? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799067)

It's just the flac/lossless obsessed fanboys that did that. Can't read any digital music stories on Slashdot without them showing up with their terabyte HD's devoted to their music.

Re:Redundant? (2, Interesting)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799163)

What's the point of selling FLAC? You can just get the raw 44.1 Khz samples from the CD itself. And, FLAC doesn't play in mp3 players like iPod etc.

What would be really cool would be 24 bit 96 khz (or higher) FLAC files for sale on online sites - and please no $5 per song, $1 a song. Maybe even promote 5.1 mixes and none of the peak mashing on CDs. Just a different mix for audiophile listeners.

Would start a whole new excitement around music.

Re:Redundant? (3, Informative)

BungaDunga (801391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799343)

And, FLAC doesn't play in mp3 players like iPod etc.
Does if you run Rockbox. Granted, that's a small minority of users.

If you can't see the point you're a stupid cunt (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799263)

That is all.

Re:Redundant? (3, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799297)

The point is they're trying to tag it "my piracy is still justified."

no-DRM is significant (0, Troll)

confused_demon (1161841) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798907)

I've recently started buying music again now that it's possible to get DRM-free music again (on amazonmp3 and a few others). For those that haven't thought very hard about it, DRMed music (itunes music) is essentially ephemeral. At some point it will stop working, either when it thinks it's on too many devices, or when the vendor decides it's no longer important to support that format (ever try opening a decade-old data file made by a windows or mac product?). The music I love, is music I want to keep forever, and I still listen to those gold-printed CDs of 'The Wall' I bought in 1990. My older friends still have their Beetle's Albums on LP.

Even without DRM (itunes premium?) using apple's proprietary data format, you're taking a risk since the data format hasn't been made publicly available. Re-processing those files as MP3 (or doing the 'burn to cd and reimport to get around apple's DRM' trick) is non-optimal since you're using two compressed data formats which are lossy in different ways.

iTunes Plus not proprietary... (2, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798979)

iTunes plus uses a standard (DRM free AAC) that is just as well documented and supported as MP3. For goodness sake, the Zune can play iTunes Plus music! And so can snything else that supports AAC, which is most new players. I don't think there's a Linux player around that could not handle them.

Re:iTunes Plus not proprietary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799249)

For goodness sake, the Zune can play iTunes Plus music!

Nothing from Microsoft ever does anything for the sake of goodness.

Re:no-DRM is significant (1)

mad.frog (525085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798985)

I've recently started buying music again now that it's possible to get DRM-free music again

"again"?

funny, the 200+ CDs I have next to me have no DRM. (Yeahyeahyeah, I know some CDs have weird crap to attempt to inflict DRM, but those are few and easy enough to avoid.) And no lossy compression, either. Plus, they're pretty much impervious to hard drive crashes.

And if you hit a good used-CD store, the price is comparable to the prices listed above...

Re:no-DRM is significant (1)

nigels (264332) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799223)

I had a fairly straight-forward time cruising over there to browse some Paul Van Dyk for my DRM unencumbered collection. However, Amazon still needs to work on it:

- Amarok can't handle the preview song format/mu3/url/whatever.
- If I buy an album, I want a zip file, not some silly downloader tool (kubuntu here)
- I don't want to go through several steps (card, billing address) to purchase each track
- I'd prefer Ogg or Flac, being a spoiled magnatune cumstomer. :-)
- The buy button is too far away from the track name - too easy to buy the wrong track.
- Ideally, they would do some deal with http://www.last.fm/ [www.last.fm] to integrate some better functionality into the web interface.

In a nutshell, make it more like magnatune!

Amazon fails the random song comparison test (2, Interesting)

Gerald (9696) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799017)

Song            Artist        Amazon  ITMS
Genius of Love  Tom Tom Club  No      Yes

Re:Amazon fails the random song comparison test (1)

themushroom (197365) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799155)

See, that's what I was hoping to see in the article. It went on about the software and the guy's computer's configuration, but didn't go head-to-head on content.

I did a comparison last night by this method: I looked up Depeche Mode. Everything listed was from tribute disks (and one audio book about the group). I am aware that labels have to get onboard to offer artists. That may come. But the article didn't say anything about that valuable detail, whether you can find what you want.

Text of article (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799043)

I got a login/password pop-up when I tried to read the head-to-head comparison. Here's the text from a mirror in the event anyone else sees the same.

***
Entertainment | 25 Sep 2007 | Recommend?
Amazon MP3 Takes on the iTunes Store

by Adam C. Engst

Amazon.com has launched a public beta of Amazon MP3, a digital music store that provides DRM-free downloads of over 2 million songs from 180,000 artists and 20,000 labels. In comparison, Apple says the iTunes Store now contains over 6 million songs.

According to Amazon's press release, most of Amazon MP3's songs are priced between $0.89 and $0.99, with more than 1 million songs in the current catalog available at $0.89, a full $0.40 less than Apple's iTunes Plus songs. Most albums in Amazon MP3 are priced between $5.99 and $9.99, again a bit cheaper than albums in the iTunes Store, which generally check in at $9.99.

All songs in Amazon MP3 are encoded at 256 Kbps, which is comparable to iTunes Plus songs, although in theory, the iTunes Plus AAC format could provide better quality than the MP3 format used by Amazon. Because Amazon is using MP3 and avoiding DRM entirely, songs purchased from Amazon MP3 are playable on any device, including the iPhone and iPods, along with Macs, PCs, and music players from other manufacturers.

Individual tracks can be purchased directly from a Web page, but to buy an album, you must first download and install the Amazon MP3 Downloader, available for both Mac OS X and Windows (a 615K download for the Mac version).

In my testing, the Amazon MP3 Downloader worked acceptably, but it was a distinctly clumsier experience than purchasing from iTunes. Clicking a Buy button on the Amazon Web site downloaded a document to my Desktop. I believe the Amazon MP3 Downloader was supposed to open it and download the actual song, but I had to double-click the file manually, likely because Amazon wasn't expecting that I'd be using a browser other than Safari (I generally rely on OmniWeb). Once opened in Amazon MP3 Downloader, the song was downloaded to an Amazon MP3 folder in the Music folder and then sent over to iTunes, which, at least on my machine, means that it was duplicated, since I keep my iTunes Music folder on a server for shared usage.

Songs I purchased were encoded at between 208 Kbps and 256 Kbps using variable bit-rate (VBR) encoding, and the free sample song was encoded at 280 Kbps VBR. Sound quality was certainly fine to my ears, though I'm no audio connoisseur. The metadata was complete and album artwork was either included or picked up automatically by iTunes.

Not Too Shabby -- Amazon MP3 is the first online music store that hasn't left me cold. Its advantages are very real:

        * No DRM. No consumer likes DRM, and although Apple hasn't yet released any statistics on how the DRM-free tracks from EMI have sold in comparison with the DRM-encumbered versions of the same tracks, Amazon has done the right thing by eliminating it across the board. Hopefully Amazon's move will give Apple some leverage with the music labels to make more DRM-free tracks available.
        * iPod compatibility. Thanks to the lack of DRM, and in particular, Windows-specific DRM, songs purchased from Amazon MP3 will play on an iPod, something that has never been true for a mainstream online music retailer (other than Apple) before.
        * Low prices. I don't have a sense for how price-conscious the online music market really is, but with many tracks priced below even the cost of Apple's DRM-encumbered tracks, and albums priced even lower, I could see budget-driven consumers or those who buy a lot of music preferring to purchase from Amazon MP3 over the iTunes Store.
        * 1-Click shopping. People do not like creating new accounts for shopping, but there's no question that some people shop from Amazon over other venues purely because it's such a known quantity after years of easy ordering. Ordering via Amazon MP3 isn't as easy as from the iTunes Store, but it's not far off.

I don't think Amazon MP3 will be putting the iTunes Store out of business by any stretch of the imagination. It's competitive, thanks to the lack of DRM, low prices, and ease of shopping, but it's clumsier than using iTunes, and everyone who has an iPod will be using iTunes anyway to sync music, so it's not as though Amazon can ever get as close to the iPod as Apple can. The good news is that by releasing an online music store that doesn't suck, Amazon has given Apple some real competition, and where there's competition, there's innovation.
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Special thanks this week to Richard Smith, Jacques Therrien,
Michael Hastings, and Denise Kusel for their generous support!

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Unless otherwise noted, this article is copyright © 2007 Adam C. Engst

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Reuse governed by Creative Commons License.

The way the question is framed misses the point (2, Insightful)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799073)

Amazon MP3 vs. iTunes? If you're one of the - well, one of the ones who filled up your 10,000 song capacity Ipod (or even a small fraction of that) from either of these sources then this may be an important topic for you.

But if you're like the vast majority of Ipod owners, you'll continue ripping CDs and loading MP3s from your "library" as you've been doing all along. On the occasions when you need to own one particular tune right now, it doesn't matter if it's 69 cents or 1.29; what matters is that it's in the catalog of the store you're shopping at. That's never easy to tell with Amazon; they've got a bad habit of putting EVERYTHING in their catalog and taking orders for it - regardless of whether they've actually got the item to sell or can even obtain it.

Personally, I gave up on Amazon after they left me on "backorder" status on a book order for a couple of months before I found out from other sources that the book was out of print. I finally got the book from Ebay for half of what Amazon wanted to sell it for - if they'd had any to sell.

Apple? Say what you will about them, but I've never been left feeling misused after dealing with them. What you get is what it says on the box; no "smoke and mirrors" like Amazon. But neither of them is getting any money from me this month (or next month either). I'll continue to buy CDs at deep discount and load those into Itunes.

Increases leverage of record companies, not Apple (3, Insightful)

calstraycat (320736) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799125)

There is one area where the author misses the underlying strategic implications of the recording industry's willingness to sell DRM-free songs through amazon.

" No DRM. No consumer likes DRM, and although Apple hasn't yet released any statistics on how the DRM-free tracks from EMI have sold in comparison with the DRM-encumbered versions of the same tracks, Amazon has done the right thing by eliminating it across the board. Hopefully Amazon's move will give Apple some leverage with the music labels to make more DRM-free tracks available."

He's got it backwards. This deal gives the record companies a strategic advantage in its pricing battle with Apple. Allowing Amazon to sell DRM-free songs but variably-priced would be best interpreted as the record companies giving Steve Jobs the finger. Only one of the major record companies has allowed Apple to sell DRM-free songs and then only at a premium price.

Of the battling parties, it is the record companies who have gained leverage with this move, not Apple. The message to Apple is clear: allow variable pricing and we'll let you sell DRM-free tracks. Keep insisting on fixed pricing and we'll only let you sell DRMed tracks.

Re:Increases leverage of record companies, not App (1)

dch24 (904899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799337)

You, sir, are absolutely right.

Still, Apple is by no means unseated from their dominant market position. The Record Labels could only lose, and lose they have: they have stiffed Apple *only* by offering mp3 downloads from Amazon. Wow, what a blow...

A real loss would be if Apple caved in and started selling tracks with variable pricing. On the other hand, what if Apple now said, "we will no longer sell DRMed tracks. Go give your DRM arguments to Amazon." As long as they continued to operate the iTunes store, Amazon would never have a full monopoly (there will always be a few people who buy through iTunes). Apple would be able to eliminate the DRM baggage on their music players, and in their contracts with the record labels. And the consumer would win, too.

I'd like to try Amazon (3, Informative)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799129)

However, they lock out Linux users. While I can apparently buy indivual songs, I can't buy an album without using their downloader which is Windows/OS X only. I don't feel like booting into OS X just to download some mp3s.

For now I'll stick to eMusic and DownloadPunk (albums are downloaded as a zip).

Re:I'd like to try Amazon (1)

brendan0powers (939524) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799301)

There is nothing stopping you from buying the whole album without using their downloader. You just have to actually download all the songs individually.

Amazon Problems (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20799143)

- Proprietary downloader required for albums (Why, oh why? I refuse to install crap like this that serves no necessary purpose.)
- Downloading of singles without the proprietary downloader can take ages (20 minutes for a 5MB song) or fail completely
- No sorting options on many screens, just like the rest of Amazon. At least clicking on an artist gets you that artist's music, unlike clicking on an author when looking at books, which only gets you a text search of the author's name (still amazed at the lameness of that)
- No shopping cart. WTF? Each song must be purchased individually. It's amazing how crappy these music stores start out. The bar is so insanely low.
- No media library for re-downloading. Come on people, join the new millennium. Why not make it possible forever, and only limit the number of redownloads in a given time period if you are worried about bandwidth? Where did customer service go? Not to mention this would bring consumer eyes back again and again... why run away from this opportunity?
- Lousy track naming. Decent meta information but the files are named {track #} - {track name}.mp3. Track number is meaningless without the context of the album. Why not name them {artist} - {track name}.mp3 so the are comprehensible in a directory listing?

Tip: If you record the download URL, you'll find that you can actually use it multiple times. Great for when something goes wrong with the first attempt. For some reason, Amazon can't figure out how to serve these files worth a damn. Fortunately they didn't bother to actually enforce the "one download" policy. Not sure how long it hangs around.

What About Album Artwork? (1)

Me! Me! 42 (1153289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799195)

Try as I might, I have been unable to determine if Amazon's MP3's include any kind of album art. The details on the web site are rather vague tech specs etc. Since I don't buy *any* downloadable music (only CDs) and no article or review I have seen addresses this point, I have yet to find an answer to this question.

So to you adventurous folks with 89 cents, does Amazon include cover art?

PS

I also, I have to say that it amazes me that people don't know 1.) that AAC is open and standard, not proprietary 2.) that the iTMS has been on the forefront of offering legal DRM free downloadable music (sold more than anyone else.) and 3.) that it's the music publishers, not Apple who insist on the DRM.

Re:What About Album Artwork? (3, Interesting)

confused_demon (1161841) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799279)

Album artwork is encoded in the MP3 tracks themselves.

AAC is not really open, but it's a standard and pushed by the same people that made MP3 (it's the audio part of mp4), so it is at least as open as mp3. For this particular comparison amazonmp3 sells non-DRMed music for about 40% less than itunes, so that is a better comparison. As far as I know OGG is the only really 'open' standard. I'm already being rated as a troll in an earlier post for implying that all music that itunes sold is tied to ipods and you're f***ed if you ever try to switch away from apple manufactured players. For joe-blow users I think that the added steps to make itunes music work on a non-itunes player are enough to effectively lock them into ipods forever.

non-DRMed music was available before itunes existed. I think the first non-DRMed music I bought online was from TMBG in the late 90's or early OO's (before cable modems and DSL was commonly available), after their 'major' label dropped them. At the time downloading the music from the internet was being pushed as 'bring-your-own-CD,' and the bandwith requirements were huge and it took the better part of a day to download it. non-DRMed music continued to be around for indie music and smaller labels.

With regard to Apple & the music labels...I think that Apple's executive management has many people in common with major branches of the entertainment industry, so it's very complex to try to say which are which. The issue of DRM is tied up in the disputes between Apple (which was rapidly becoming the only stylish way to sell musich) and the major labels.

Waiting for google to join the party (1, Interesting)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799203)

So how long do people think it is for Google to start a music downloading service? Lets me see...

a)Bandwidth , check
b)Storage capacity, check
c)Revenue stream, check ( subscription / adds )
d)Search, check
e)Marketing, check
f)...
h)Profit! (I'm sincerely sorry, but it didn't feel right to leave it out.)

Question is if they will write it themself or if they are waiting for somebody else to do the hard work so they can buy it.

DRM free? Not quite... (2, Insightful)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799399)

Notice that you still have to use their special program to download full albums. That leaves out the (semi) vocal Linux and BSD crowds out in the cold.

They say DRM is bad... (1)

nuggetman (242645) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799413)

They say DRM is bad for the consumer, but this is one point where it's actually working in the consumer's favor.

Apple controls the iTMS DRM. The iTMS DRM is the only DRM supported on the iPod. Having your music store work on an iPod is critical. Since working on iPods is critical to the success of any music store right now, there is only one option to sell digitally outside the iTMS and do that - no DRM. Apple's control has left the labels no choice. We would not be seeing this if iTMS DRM was opened up for licensing like everyone whines for them to do.
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