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Amazon's DRM-Free Download Store Launches With 2.3 Million & Analysis: What The Amazon Store Is… And Is Not.

SEATTLE (Hypebot) – After more than a year of speculation, The Amazon DRM-free download store has finally opened with an impressive 2,323,235 mp3's available from 180,000 artists on 20,000 labels. All tracks are 256 kps mp3's priced at 89 to 99 cents.

Included are thousands of tracks from Universal (more it appears than are available elsewhere) and virtually the entire EMI catalog including Radiohead and Pink Floyd. Missing are digital hold outs The Beatles and Bob Seger.

Leading independent labels offering their catalog of music for the first time DRM-free include Alligator, HighTone, Madacy, Sanctuary, Rounder, Righteous Babe, Sugar Hill, Trojan and Phillip Glass' Orange Mountain.

Vanguard/Sugar Hill/Welk, who have been experimenting with a limited mp3 offering via eMusic has a much broader selection on Amazon. Drag City and Red House who had left eMusic's subscription service are now available as mp3's on Amazon. But eMusic's most high profile defections Epitaph and Victory have not yet made the jump to Amazon.

No downloads from Sony BMG or WMG are available on Amazon, but some labels distributed by WMG owned ADA are available including Beggars Group, Merge and Touch & Go. Several other ADA distributed labels are absent from today's launch.

While there is a distinct mp3
section and chart
, Amazon has smartly also positioned downloads alongside CD's in the general music section.

Search for the Beatles and you'll find only CD's for sale. Search for most other EMI artists and you'll find mp3's also available.

Amazon has priced more than 1 million songs lower than iTunes price at 89 cents including most of the top 100 selling tracks. Other songs are priced at the industry standard 99 cents. Full album purchase is encouraged with most albums priced from $5.99 to $9.99 with much of top 100 best-selling albums at $8.99 or less.

As with most Amazon offerings, ease of use should be a major draw. Customers can purchase downloads using Amazon 1-Click shopping and using a special

Amazon MP3 Downloader add their mp3s to their iTunes or Windows Media Player libraries. Amazon's popular recommendation feature looks back up on all of your previous CD purchases to provide instant download suggestions.

Analysis: What The Amazon Store Is… And Is Not.

You can find our in depth first look at the new Amazon DRM free download store here. But just how "industry changing" is it?

The Amazon MP3 Download Store IS:

  • An important step forward for digital music.
  • Amazon has set the bar higher and that's good for the entire industry. Plus Amazon name and buying experience and the universal usability of the tracks should help expand the universe of download buyers.
  • A another big nail in the DRM coffin.
  • A boost for the record industry.
  • Amazon is a partner the labels already know and trust who just gave them everything that Apple is fighting not to: variable pricing, full album downloads, universal compatibility and DRM sales of indie artists.
  • Come on WMG and Sony BMG…walk towards the light…
  • A serious threat to every other download store.
  • Not only does it have all of the major label DRM free product that they do. It has hundreds of thousands of indie tracks that the others do not.
  • A possible eMusic killer.
  • With defections from some a few of their most important labels, eMusic is left competing on price alone. I predict that when the checks from Amazon downloads equal those they get from eMusic that more indie labels will pull out.

    The Amazon MP3 Download Store IS NOT:

  • The iTunes killer.
  • Serious competition yes. Killer no. Too many people are used to the iTunes to iPod experience no matter how easy Amazon makes it.

  • The answer to all your download buying needs.
    It's not their fault. The labels won't let them…yet.
    A mobile solution.

  • With the Verizon's deal with Rhapsody/MTV and the the iTunes Wireless store, Amazon needs to move quickly to add over the air downloads.