Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 Downloads

Yes, you’ve read about this some­where else already. How­ev­er, I just want­ed to pro­vide a lit­tle detail on the ser­vice as-is. The files are prices at 89¢ to 99¢ each, and appear to all be 256kbps .mp3 files. Ama­zon has a small appli­ca­tion to help man­age down­load­ing the files and adding them to your music data­base (iTunes or Win­dows Media Play­er, appar­ent­ly); though it’s for Win­dows XP & Vista (no mac ver­sion, boo!) or Max OS X if you hap­pen to be on that type of machine (I was­n’t when I was try­ing this out; but yea!). The files you down­load are .azm, which appears to be just a wrap­per around what­ev­er .mp3 files you’ve pur­chased. I don’t know that the .mp3 files have tag/header infor­ma­tion that ties them back to the pur­chas­er, a la iTMS Plus songs. Frankly, I don’t care, either, pro­vid­ed it does­n’t have any data that can lead some­one to get into my Ama­zon account.

KT Tunstall's Drastic Fantastic

KT Tun­stall: Cool Scot­tish rock­er chicky.

The music that is avail­able is fair­ly impres­sive. Of course, it’s not as large a cat­a­log as the iTMS has. I was able to find some fair­ly obscure music (exam­ple: Bat for Lash­es, who I’ve writ­ten about before), though not every­thing I was look­ing for. Any CD’s for sale that have down­load­able .mp3s now have a link on that CD’s sale page, and vice-ver­sa. I down­loaded KT Tun­stal­l’s Dras­tic Fan­tas­tic (which is a great album and I’ve devel­oped a small fan­boy-crush on her already…). Down­loads are fair­ly fast (rough­ly the same as iTMS) and I used the Ama­zon down­load app to place them into iTunes for me. I’ve yet to try this out on the mac and I’ll update as soon as I can (I can only hope that if you don’t use the app, the .amz wrap­per isn’t used as I don’t think my mac knows what to do with it).

So far, I have to say that I’m pleased as punch with Ama­zon’s store. Frankly, even if you don’t use their store, you’ll ben­e­fit from what they are doing: help­ing to pull down DRM just a lit­tle more. How­ev­er, giv­en the com­pet­i­tive pric­ing and use of more com­mon file for­mat (.mp3 instead of .m4a), I think I’ll use Ama­zon’s ser­vice when­ev­er pos­si­ble for the near future.

Update: John Gru­ber has more infor­ma­tion and opin­ions than you could ever want on this over at Dar­ing Fire­ball.


By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.

1 comment

  1. So I’m real­ly intrigued by Ama­zon’s mp3 down­loads. The prices look phe­nom­e­nal, and if it was­n’t for me love of album art, lin­er notes, and actu­al­ly own­ing CDs, I think I would take more advan­tage of this. Their full album prices are like half the cost of own­ing a phys­i­cal disc.

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