January 10, 2008 |
With all four major music labels now on board, it looks like AmazonMP3 can now be considered a real threat to iTunes and its more limited variety of DRM-free music (over 3 million at AmazonMP3 compared to just 2 million at iTunes). “All four major labels will be part of our service. It means our customers will really have access to all the biggest artists in the world,” stated Bill Carr, VP of digital music at Amazon. “We are excited to offer Amazon MP3 customers DRM-free MP3s from Sony BMG, which represents many of the most popular musicians from the past and present.”
Sony BMG recently announced its plans to offer unprotected tracks and, although Amazon is the first to make the announcement, Apple will surely be adding the Sony catalog as well. TechCrunch expects a similar announcement from Steve Jobs as early as next week at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco.
EMI and Universal Music Group were the first to offer DRM-free music via the Amazon store when it launched in September, while Warner Music Group followed suit in December with an announcement that their entire music catalog would also be available on the site. The entire catalog at Amazon will now include 3.1 million songs from 270,000 artists from all of the four major labels and over 33,000 independents. What the labels seem to like about AmazonMP3 is the variable pricing available whereas all tracks on Apple iTunes are sold at a flat rate of $0.99 each.
“We are excited to be working with Amazon as they continue to build new markets for digital music,” mentioned Thomas Hesse of Sony BMG. “We are constantly exploring new ways of making our music available to consumers in the physical space, over the Internet and through mobile phones, and this initiative is the newest element of our ongoing campaign to bring our music to fans wherever they happen to be.”
We all still know, however, that if it were entirely up to the labels, digital rights technology would be here to stay. But, since consumer demand proves that the people are against it and new threats continue to be positioned against major labels, they will go where ever the money is.
With its high-quality bitrate (256 Kbps), completely non-DRM catalog, and the freedom to play downloaded music on any MP3-capable device, I would personally choose AmazonMP3 over iTunes any day. Even to put the music on an iPod!
Though AmazonMP3 will by no means overtake the iTunes store in sales overnight, perhaps Apple should now rethink its strategy. Maybe Jobs should ditch DRM just as Amazon has chosen to do, especially since we all know how much he hates it.